More evidence that renewables alone don’t cut it

You can’t rely on renewable energy and so need to keep other options, making it still more expensive.

WUWT reader Dixon writes:

Tasmania, an island state in Australia generates a large proportion of its electricity from hydroelectricity. Thanks to generous government subsidies during the last 2 years of Australia’s now repealed carbon tax, the private company in charge ran down the dam reservoir to maximise the benefits gained from the subsidy. While Tasmania is known for usually having wet winters, a prolonged drought meant that left the dam reserves precariously low. So when a fault in the trans-Tasman cable that crosses the Bass straight and which connects the Tasmanian grid to the Victorian one a crisis emerged as it was no longer possible to rely on the cheap coal powered electricity from Victoria.

PHOTO: Water levels continue to fall in Great Lake which is Hydro Tasmania's second largest storage system. (Supplied: Kaylee Hattinger)

Water levels continue to fall in Great Lake which is Hydro Tasmania’s second largest storage system. (Supplied: Kaylee Hattinger via Australia ABC)

To compound the PR disaster, the drought was broken in spectacular fashion recently with a full 3+ days warning of severe weather that did not stop the hydro-power company proceeding with cloud seeding flights the day before the flood tragically took 3 lives in the State.

Coincidentally, South Australia also generates a significant proportion of it’s power from wind and makes a great deal of huff and puff about it. It doesn’t tend to point out as readily that this is only viable because it too can import electricity generated with Victorian coal when the wind blows too much or too little!

If there was any rational scientific, engineering and economic logic underpinning Australia, it would be building best-of-breed nuclear power stations. It’s tectonically stable, has huge amounts of uninhabited space to store waste and vast reserves of resources that it almost always ships offshore for other to do the value adding that comes from refining ores. Instead, they have lost their manufacturing (cars), they are selling their farm land, real-estate and strategic assets to foreign ownership and they wonder why the economy is heading south!



133 thoughts on “More evidence that renewables alone don’t cut it

  1. In fact, nuclear waste can be reprocessed into new fuel and that fuel can be made such that it is nearly impossible to weaponize (“contaminated” with enough 240-P to make it unusable for weapons but just fine for fuel). Not only is the volume of waste reduced by 90% by reprocessing spent fuel, but the waste decays to safe levels in a much shorter period of time (hundreds rather than thousands or tens of thousands of years as is the case with convention waste). Everyone in Australia should read this and then get on board the “small modular reactor” bandwagon.

    • crosspatch says: June 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

      In fact, nuclear waste can be reprocessed into new fuel and that fuel can be made such that it is nearly impossible to weaponize (“contaminated” with enough 240-P to make it unusable for weapons …

      Dirty bombs rely on conventional explosives to spread radioactive material. Dirty bombs wouldn’t produce many fatalities but such devices could really mess up the economy. I don’t think we can totally ignore the nuclear waste problem.

      • Dirty Bombs are complete hype. They were studied in the 60’s by the USA (for large scale warfare) as area denial weapons. They were rejected as ineffective. In the terrorist threat world we live in today, they are still ineffective from a military, tactical standpoint. They would, however, be extremely effective as a terrorist PR campaign once the MSM got wind that radioactive materials were involved. I would be much more concerned about the practical effects of an explosive device, from a response perspective, than I would be about the radioactive material the explosive device might spread when detonated.

      • You do not ignore radioactives any more than you ignore plastic explosives. But we as a nation do not go into a multi-decade long fear frenzy over high explosives. We even allow the use of high explosives on an industrial scale. Our use of high explosives is rational, our fear of the use of radioactives is not.

      • I did not say you ignore radioactive materials. I said, ” I would be much more concerned about the practical effects of an explosive device, from a response perspective, than I would be about the radioactive material the explosive device might spread when detonated.”.

        The people most likely to be affected by the radioactive material that would be loaded into a dirty bomb, are the same people that would be most likely to die from the detonation of the explosive device and shrapnel. As for the economic impact, on a macro scale, it would be negligible except for the panic caused by the MSM’s theoretically overhyped reporting. Once folks got over the psychological impact, any economic impact would be negated.

        Dirty bombs are ineffective, except as a Terrorist PR stunt in the current 24 hour MSM news media. It is only in the realm of the MSM where they would have, or potentially have, real prompt and/or knock on effects.

      • Nobody said to ignore anything. I said we can greatly REDUCE the waste issue by 90 percent.

      • The truth about Radioactive-material Dispersal Devices lies in the specific activity of their components. If the specific activity is high enough to be problematic to clean up then it is too deadly to build. If it is easily built then it is easily cleaned. The main effect of RDD is hysteria.

        Calculate it yourself. If it was easy then everyone might do it.

      • Take the hyped dangers of waste and even nuclear accidents and divide them by several orders of magnitude. The whole nuclear fear industry is manufactured by activists. Dirty bombs haven’t gone off because they are more of a nuisance than a danger. Better just double up on the explosives and forget about the scary nuke waste. Since the 1950s, nuclear accidents in laboratories and power generation have resulted in miniscule amounts of casualties.

        Globally, there were accidents causing death at only 7 out of 437 nuclear reactors in the world. The number of deaths were 70, 56 of which were at Chernobyl, a bare bones reactor built with no concern for safety by the Soviets. Of the 14 deaths at the the other 6 reactors, 2 workers downed at the Fukushima plant, a steam explosion killed 4 at Japan’s Mihama plant, a fuel rod ejected and killed 2 at a Czech plant and 3 were killed by an explosion at Idaho Falls when a fuel rod was removed too far. One was killed in France by an explosion in a metal melting furnace. Radioactive deaths: 2 at Tokaimura plant in Japan. So, nuclear deaths outside of Chernobyl number 2!!!

        France, the most nuclearized country in the world lost one to a non-nuclear accident! Contrary to all the hype (even before Chernobyl), that retarded tech development and prevented what would by now be a world on nuclear electricity, this industry remains the safest one of all industries. I’m sure the civilization destroyers rejoiced like hell when the Chernobyl accident took place, because before that there had been NO NUCLEAR DEATHS at electrical plants!! Shame on the legions of activists that have derailed this fruit of human ingenuity. Comparison? Coal mining deaths in China alone since 2000 is 57,000 deaths. It fortunately has fallen from 6000 annually to about 1000.

        Deaths from installation of solar and wind are significantly greater than from 436 of the 437 nuclear reactors. No link, but apparently solar in California alone is significantly more. Now let’s await the arrival of the usual suspects.

      • Gary Pearse- reading closely, the article was about nuclear power reactors, not experimental, non-power test reactors. Wikipedia is often biased. Their list includes 5 deaths at the Mihama-3 reactor in Japan- “the subsequent investigation revealed a serious lack in systematic inspection in Japanese nuclear plants”.

        Looking at this chart: it looks like nuclear power has produced approximately 52,000 terawatts of electriciy since 1970. 5 deaths in a poorly maintained nuclear power plant is an unparallelled safety record. Over 4000 construction workers died in accidents last year, Quite possibly 5 died doing solar installations. The solar industry is so small the statistics aren’t even broken out.

      • Put filters into the storm drains.
        Send in some fire trucks to thoroughly hose down the area.
        Collect the filters
        Repave the roads within few miles of the blast site.

        Problem solved.

    • Nope. No practical way to have enough Pu240. As a nuclear engineer, i wish it were so. Peer-reviewed journal articles by the US defense labs provide a metric that give the usability for weapons. Any recycled material from fuels is weapon-usable. Nonetheless, we should still recycle used fuel. Reduces the long-term hazard significantly.

      • Under normal operations that is true. The article describes exposing 239-Pu to a neutron stream in a fast neutron breeder reactor to intentionally transmutate to 240-Pu.

      • Chernobyl, a bare bones reactor built with no concern for safety by the Soviets

        And supposedly they ran it past its safety limits “just to see what would happen” prior to the event. Almost as if the accident was planned. Hmmm. *removes tinfoil hat*

      • The Chernobyl reactor was designed with a positive alpha T, or at least that is my understanding. It required the addition of poisons to control. It was an inherently unstable design.

      • SMC June 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm wrote: “The Chernobyl reactor was designed with a positive alpha T, or at least that is my understanding. It required the addition of poisons to control. It was an inherently unstable design.”

        I believe Cuba has at least one nuclear reactor of this design.

      • Thanks Leo, I guess I shouldn’t have depended on my memory. I knew Cuba had a particularly dangerous nuclear powerplant situation there, and was guessing it was the same design as the Chernobyl reactor. I did qualify my statement a little, because I wasn’t sure. Thanks for setting me striaght.

        Here is a link to the Cuba nuclear power problem

        “Cuba’s attempt to establish a nuclear power plant has been met with substantial opposition. Think tanks such as the Center for Security Policy (CSP) believe that the Juragua reactors must not be allowed to operate. In his 1995 testimony before Congress, Roger W. Robinson, Jr, member of CSP’s board of advisors, indicated that the Juragua reactors are inundated with safety problems: structural defects in support structures in key reactor components, integral reactor systems, including the reactor vessels, steam generators and primary cooling pumps were exposed to highly corrosive tropical sea weather, and that as many as 15% of 5,000 approved welds in key reactor equipment were found to be defective. Robinson’s testimony’s indicated that Cuban intelligence knowingly destroyed evidence proving the extent of the reactor’s flaws, making it impossible to take effective corrective action to repair the welds.

        CSP’s concerns over safety issues at Juragua have been echoed by academic scientists. A Cuban geophysicist defector observed that Cuba lacks the sophisticated and technological infrastructure needed to support a safe nuclear reactor program. Vladimir Cerverra, who led quality control at Juragua, stated 60% of the Soviet material shipped for the two reactors was defective. Dr. Manuel Cereijo stated that although the Juragua reactors are not similar to the Soviet Chernobyl model they are nonetheless dangerous. Four similar Juragua type reactors (VVER-440) in East Germany were immediately shut down by West Germany upon reunification. Similar plants in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria are currently under inspection, shut down or have received extensive modification.

    • The Scientific American article was published before the defense labs various papers. In fact, it and similarly incorrect articles helped motivate the defense labs papers by Bathke et al. Pu240 does make it more difficult to make a bomb, but not impossible. Of course, if a poor isolated country like North Korea can make a bomb, anyone who is left alone can do it – they don’t need nuclear reactors or used fuel. Uranium separation can be done by any nation with reasonable engineering capability that is left alone to do so. Thanks to the dishonest and dishonorable Iran deal, we will see Iran with a nuclear bomb.

      • Nuclear weapons were first developed in the 1940’s. With 1940’s technology. Darn near 80 years ago. There is absolutely no reason why a person, group or nation could not develop their own nuclear weapon if they had the materials and technical know how.

    • While I wholeheartedly agree with nuclear power and reprocessing the spent fuel, as long as it is enriched and fission’s it can be used for a bomb. The real limit of using reprocessed fuel is that is so radioactive it must be handled remotely. A facility to handle it remotely would be very conspicuous. The argument that it couldn’t be weaponized was to attempt to counter the argument that it could. Jimmy Carter signed a presidential order to halt us from reprocessing. I guess the argument was we didn’t want to go from 10,000 warheads to 10,500 or Jimmy was just an idiot. Anyway, reprocessing is the way to go. Spent Nuclear fuel is self guarding since it comes out of the reactor at about 500,000 – 1,000,000 R.

      • “the argument was we didn’t want to go from 10,000 warheads to 10,500 or Jimmy was just an idiot

        We have a winner.

        If spent fuel can be used to make bombs, why nobody has ever tried that path?

      • Molten Salt Reactors (MSR), as designed by Oak Ridge, have an integral reprocessing plant. (It’s just a fractional distillation column). The fuel is cleaned of the neutron poisoning products and returned to the reactor. Never shipped off-site, useful radioactives as a by product. No chance for interception, easy to monitor against diversion. You occasionally add more fertile material to replenish what is consumed. All the fissionables produced are part of the fuel, and are “burned” for power.

        When the “spent nuclear fuel” on site is all consumed, we start feeding in the depleted uranium created by the original enrichment process, we have tons of the stuff, stored as uranium hexafluoride.

        That’s enough to carry us for the next three thousand years or so, at current consumption rates. Without mining anymore uranium, (and we have large proven reserves). And then there is thorium, which is three times more abundant in Earth’s crust than uranium.

      • well what the hell is DU weapon casing etc that americas busy using to get rid of waste by shooting it at some poor bastards OS then?

      • DU is uranium with most of the radioactive isotopes removed.
        It is less radioactive than was the ore when it was removed from the ground.
        BTW, you might want to get someone who speaks English to review your contributions before posting.

      • If spent fuel can be used to make bombs, why nobody has ever tried that path?

        Where do you think all the plutonium that powers the world nuclear arsenal came from?

        Early reactors were plutonium breeders with a little power station tacked on the back to cool them down.

        Hence the massive anti nuclear (power) propaganda that the Sovbloc financed in the West.

      • “Where do you think all the plutonium that powers the world nuclear arsenal came from?”

        From reactors designed to produce plutonium.

        Show me one nation that re-purposed spent fuel.

        Do you think Iran is dangerous because they could reuse spent fuel from power reactors to make bombs?

      • Donald – Jimmy Carter not only halted the reprocessing, but had the plans in hand to ‘Close the Nuclear Loop’ as LarryD mentions.

        Here is the story.
        Jim Stone, Updated on July 22, 2013 – “During my journey of discovery in my investigation into the Fukushima disaster, I interviewed an 85 year old nuclear engineer who worked in the nuclear industry during America’s glory days, an engineer who earned GE over 100 patents. He was one of the engineers who designed Fukushima, so naturally when conducting an investigation into such a disaster a journalist would want that type of reference.
        When I started to think I was going to walk away with nothing new, he began to talk about an entirely different subject. He began his new direction in the discussion with the phrase “My team succeeded in closing the nuclear loop, and Carter banned our miracle with an executive order.
        We perfected the second reactor design which used liquid sodium as a coolant and the reactor ran much hotter – 1100 farenheit as opposed to 550 in a boiling water reactor. The liquid sodium circulated inside the reactor instead of water, with the heat of the reaction being removed from the system by a heat exchanger which produced steam outside the reactor for use in producing electricity. The temperature difference and coolant characteristics in the complimentary reactor facilitated the burning of the isotopes, and you got to use both sides of the reaction – the boiling water reactor produced electricity while producing unwanted isotopes, and the sodium cooled reactor produced electricity while burning the unwanted isotopes out. This process could be repeated 20 times, and when it was finished the fuel was DEAD and no longer hazardous because all of it’s radiological potential was used up. It was a clean energy dream come true, and Carter banned it by executive order!” [Executive Order 12193]
        He specifically stated that the burn down was so complete that the spent fuel was safe to handle directly with bare hands, and needed no special care or maintenance at all, and after I questioned him about exactly how safe, said you could safely sleep on it. I questioned him several times, saying he must be exaggerating, but he said ALL radiological potential was used, and the fuel was completely inert at the end of the final cycle.

        Now Russia has it. –

        20 cycles of power generation and no radioactive waste at the end. Interesting thing about Executive Orders, the next president can unsign them.

      • As I read this thread just a few notes: All reactors, every single one without exception, that use U-235 make plutonium. It is impossible to have a neutron flux and U-238 and not get breeding. All U-235 reactors are enriched and have U-238. Just saying that is a fact. DU is depleted uranium. It means it has been refined, the U-235 extracted. It is still radioactive, it is an alpha emitter. By the way, uranium is pyrophoric which is interesting when you think of DU bullets hitting metal and disintegrating. As far as liquid metal reactors go, they are my favorite and yes I have operated one. EBR-II

      • DD More, I don’t see what Executive Order 12193 or Reagan’s follow-up has to do with a specific reactor design.

        Executive Order 12193 – Nuclear Cooperation With EURATOM
        February 12, 1980
        By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States of America, including Section 126a(2) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2155 (a) (2)), and having determined that, upon the expiration of the period specified in the first proviso to Section 126a(2) of such Act, failure to continue peaceful nuclear cooperation with the European Atomic Energy Community would be seriously prejudicial to the achievement of United States non-proliferation objectives and would otherwise jeopardize the common defense and security of the United States, and having notified the Congress of this determination, I hereby extend the duration of that period to March 10, 1981.
        The White House,
        February 12, 1980. [Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:50 a.m., February 13, 1980]

        I intend to sign an Executive Order to extend the waiver of the application of the relevant export criterion of the NNPA (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act) for an additional twelve months from March 10, 1981.
        RONALD REAGAN Feb. 24, 1981

  2. The joy of leaving the lunatics in charge of the asylum for too long. With too many vested interests all wanting their cut of the subsidy cake.

    James Bull

    • “The joy of leaving the lunatics in charge of the asylum for too long.”

      That’s a very fitting metaphor indeed!

      The Germans have to rejoice the same sort of “joy” as well:

      But despite this sorrowful reality of their anti-fossil and anti-nuclear “Energiewende”, it is very unlikely that the Germans might overcome their collective green “brain washing” in near future. The CAGW eco-religion is now so deeply rooted in politics and media there, so that every unusually thing will always be seen by the German media and mainstream people as a rightly deserved punishment from Gaia for human CO2 sins:
      – If there are too many war refugees in 2015, then the war has to be related to climate-change…
      – If there is a rather warm and too dry autumn in 2015, this must be due to climate-change…
      – If there is a very wet and cold spring and too many rainy deluges in early summer 2016, that must be a clear sign of climate-change as well…
      – and so forth and so on…

      This widespread climate hysteria and weather-related superstition is quite comparable to the witch-hunt hysteria at the beginning of the Little Ice Age about 500 years ago. Consequently, the expressions “lunatics” and “asylum” are very well chosen for this kind of social psychosis.

      • Agreed. Green is mainstream, establishment and sclerotic. Each passing day and the energy events that occur will make it that much easier to tip it off its pedestal.

      • The Germans have throttled back at the point where they are already at 33% renewable electricity and their 2020 target is 35%, plus they need to build north/south grid connections…

        So they will ONLY add 2.8GW of onshore wind and 600MW of solar a year and continue with their offshore wind programme…

      • “Every unusual thing will always be seen by the German media and mainstream people as a rightly deserved punishment from Gaia for human CO2 sins.”

        Nice phrasing. Human beings have not changed in the last couple of millennia, and it should be no surprise to anyone that contemporary people are just a susceptible as our forbears, to “spirit” explanations of natural phenomena.

        In much of the Islamic world they still do it the old-fashioned way. Here is Pakistani physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy about the aftermath of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake:

        “Similarly, in the mass media of Muslim countries, discussions on ‘Islam and science’ are common and welcomed only to the extent that belief in the status quo is reaffirmed rather than challenged. When the 2005 earthquake struck Pakistan, killing more than 90,000 people, no major scientist in the country publicly challenged the belief, freely propagated through the mass media, that the quake was God’s punishment for sinful behavior.

        Mullahs ridiculed the notion that science could provide an explanation; they incited their followers into smashing television sets, which had provoked Allah’s anger and hence the earthquake. As several class discussions showed, an overwhelming majority of my university’s science students accepted various divine-wrath explanations.”

  3. you guys are stretching it too much
    making the scandal about enhancing rain by seeding…
    yikes… if it worked the Sahara would be green by now

    • Seeding is only part of the story.

      But no, the Sahara would not be green by now. Seeding doesn’t create rainfall from dry air, let alone enough to green a desert.

  4. With every big drought, there is opportunity.
    Tasman Hydro should take the low-water opportunity to cleanup and perform maintenance on their dam and reservoir infrastructure normally underwater.

    Like that dead tree log in the picture.
    Some concrete repair and crack patching.
    Replace or paint corroded metal structures.
    Earth removal to reopen deeper silted-in channels.

    • Yes, definitely an opportunity to clean up and repair dams. On a minor scale here but our main dam is now much cleaner and water intake to the pipes is very much improved. Not possible to clean up like that most years, thank you drier summer!

    • I didnt see happening on the dry Lake Mead???
      best opportunity ever to desilt n repair
      did they?
      dont think so

  5. The fallacy of wind turbines is revealed with simple arithmetic.

    5 mW wind turbine, avg output 1/3 nameplate, 20 yr life, electricity @ wholesale 2 cents per kwh produces $5.8E6.
    Installed cost @ $1.7E6/mW = $8.5E6. Add the cost of standby CCGT for when the wind does not blow. Add the cost of land lease, maintenance, Administration.

    [But the average output only = 17% to 19% of nameplate rating. .mod]

    • So much is false in that comment, and the mod’s addition.

      In the US, wind Power Purchase Agreements recently are for 3 cents per kWh, and in the recent past were 5 cents. A small federal subsidy for each kWh generated is 2.3 cents, but only for the first 10 years of operation. Additional fast depreciation accounting rules provide additional incentive. Operating costs are low at approximately 0.5 cents per kWh, but slowly increase over time. see

      And for the mod’s information, the US annual average capacity factor is 34 percent with wind, with a range of 43 to 22 on a monthly basis. As stated in an earlier comment and on my blog, Texas recently had its wind facilities operating above 80 percent for almost an entire day, with wind penetration on the grid of 40 percent and zero operating issues.

      If wind power were truly as awful as most of the commenters on WUWT maintain, Warren Buffet would never buy any wind turbines. Instead, one of the wealthiest, savviest men on the planet invests multi-billions, over and over.

      Here’s a link to US monthly power plant capacity factors, per the EIA.

      • OMG Mr. Sowell. Why don’t you provide direct links instead of links to your self promoting blog with it’s self promoting, propagandist, watermelon agenda. Go practice law, because your grasp of engineering, despite your apparent credentials, appears to be pretty poor.

      • It’s just a “small federal subsidy” you say?

        American Wind Energy Association a few years ago said that: With current subsidies, the wind industry is expected to provide 8 GW of power across the US. Without the subsidy, power generation from wind would fall to 2 GW of power.

        Warren Buffet invests multi-billions, over and over, because wind power is worthy you say?

        He’s widely been attributed with the following quote: “[O]n wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

      • For Michael Jankowski, your information is woefully out of date. The fact is that the US presently has a bit more than 17,000 MW of wind capacity installed with another 10,000 MW under construction. The latest legislation on the federal subsidy provides 5 more years, but the subsidy is reduced each year. Within those 5 years, advance technologies will have increased output, increased capacity factors, and reduced installed costs so that wind power will stand on its own with zero subsidies.

        The simple fact is, all nuclear power plants (in the US) enjoy at least six forms of government subsidy, and have done so for decades. Zero nuclear power plants would ever be built without those subsidies.

        Seventy-five percent of all hydroelectric capacity in the US was built entirely with federal funds, yet there is no outcry over that form of electricity.

        Finally, existing coal-fired power plants were exempted from the pollution regulations under the Clean Air Act, along with clever interpretation of capacity expansions. That, too, is a form of government subsidy for the coal industry. Now that the EPA is regulating the air emissions, coal-fired plants are shutting down in record numbers.

        Gee, wonder if coal-fired plants can do like wind, and be self-sufficient in 5 years time? Or nuclear?

        No way.

      • Mr. Sowell, I can and, I do, look up my own information, from multiple sources I believe to be credible, thanks for the advice. In the meantime, I think I’m done engaging you… You’re a watermelon, IMO, and that’s all I really need to know. Have a nice day.

      • [Texas recently had its wind facilities operating above 80 percent for almost an entire day]

        well that’s nice–makes up for all those days it runs at zero % capacity like for the last 4-5 days for all the wind generators in my part of Texas–not even a little breeze.

      • If wind power were truly as awful…

        So, taxpayer-funded subsidies have NOTHING to do with the “growth” of wind power, eh? Pull the other one.

      • Mr Sowell,

        I’m a little confused by your ‘capacity factor’ graph. We know, for instance, that Gas Turbine stations can run at considerably more than the 10% capacity shown.

        I suspect that you are not showing actual capable capacity – if you were, Nuclear stations would be close to 100% – but instead are showing amount of electricity actually delivered to the Grid against total theoretical capability. This is a function, not only of generating capability, but also of demand.

        What you are showing is that, with the greatest encouragement possible, wind can manage to deliver 1/3 of its nameplate rating – pro rata for other renewables. And because renewables get preferential first call for generation, all the other generating systems have to lower their outputs even though they could all do much better. So the competitive field is hugely biased against conventional power.

        If the field were unbiased, and wind power had to compete on an open market, I strongly suspect that it would be unable to deliver even the 17%-19% that the mode suggests, since intermittency is a risk, and it is hard to sell unreliable power.

      • Wind and solar power have zero reliability.

        How about the transmission costs for renewable power. How much to bring electricity from Newfoundland to New England?

        The underwater cable alone from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia is ~ $1.5 billion cost.

      • The Ontario, Lake Erie to Pennsylvania, underwater cables (1,000 MW total ) will cost ~ $1 billion.

      • The Champlain Hudson Power Express, 1,000 MW, 330 mile transmission line from Quebec to New York City has estimated cost $2.2 billion.

        Maybe people think that electricity transmission is free?

      • New England Clean Power Link

        About a 100 mile Quebec to Vermont 1,000 MW transmission line cost estimate is $1.2 billion.

      • Michael Jankowski, you are spot on.

        The full quote is as follows: “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” (See

        A break down on just how much sense it makes can be found by reading an article from the National Legal and Policy Center. Beware, you have to understand tax laws and finance. (See

        Bottom line?

        Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy (solar and wind) makes post-tax profits of $1,574,000,000 for producing just 11% of the electricity that a fossil fuel company utility (Ameren) produces.

        Tax burdens?

        “Ameren’s net income after an assumed tax rate of 37% is just $255,000,000. So, in the end: 1 kilowatt of windmill electricity produces 57x the profit of 1 kilowatt of hydrocarbon fuel electricity.” This profit production advantage is not technological, but, in keeping with today, is purely driven by finance and law.

        Here is the business advantage comparison”
        Economic Comparison of Hydrocarbon Electricity and Windmill Electricity
        Ameren Missouri Hydrocarbon Electricity Berkshire Hathaway MidAmerican’s Wind Energy Advantage?
        Annual Electricity Production KWH 111,299,000,000 11,990,854,000
        Electricity Income $/KWH $0.0586 $0.065 MidAmerican is 11% more expensive
        Renewable Energy Credit Income/KWH 0 $0.065 MidAmerican is infinitely more expensive
        Production Tax Credit/ KWH 0 $263,300,000 If Ameren had a tax credit it would amount to:
        Operating Income 810,000,000 1,574,000,000 MidAmerican is 2x greater!
        Net Income 255,000,000 $1,574,000,000 MidAmerican is 6x greater!
        Reliability 100% 36% No contest: Ameren, hands down.
        Net Income/ KWH .00229 .13100 MidAmerican
        57x Greater

        As Buffett’s Berkshire company says “When our current projects are completed, MidAmerican’s renewables portfolio will have cost $15 billion. We relish making such commitments as long as they promise reasonable returns. And on that front, we put a large amount of trust in future regulation.”

        “Trust in future regulation”, future finance and law crony capitalism, that’s the business model.

        The average American taxpayer can participate in profiting from that trust and Berkshire’s wind and solar “gold mine”. A share only costs about $200,000+ or so.

      • If wind power were truly as awful as most of the commenters on WUWT maintain, Warren Buffet would never buy any wind turbines.

        We never said it wasn’t profitable. Just that it was an total waste of money.

        Peolpe invest in heroin too.

    • The federal subsidy is quite small. The money never comes out of an electricity customer’s payment, instead it is in the form of a federal tax credit. It is useful only if the wind power plant owner has a profit and would otherwise owe taxes. But, if it were to be paid by consumers, the subsidy is approximately $1 per month per household.

      All new nuclear power plants have the identical subsidy of 2.3 cents per kWh, so I expect the wizards here at WUWT to yell just as long and loud against that one. What’s that I hear? crickets…..

      • Well, I can buy the “wind portion” of energy from my utility for an additional 20% or I can buy the standard for 20% less. 20% more is not $1 per household per month (note even per day).

        I can tell you that the 20% doesn’t even come close to covering the extra expense that the utility pays to obtain the mandated green energy that they acquire … it is spread around among everyone.

        I don’t have to be a wizard to know that you are either deluded, incompetent, full of crap, or some combination of the above.

      • Again, wind and solar have zero reliability!

        No one would buy or invest in unreliable machinery unless there were some other financials involved to make them pay.

        Cost-benefit analysis are done and if something doesn’t pay then investments are not made.

      • Wind and other “re-newables” are subsidized on both ends. Utilities are required to buy a certain percentage of wind (or other) and the contract price is much more than what non-renewable costs are. This forcing on the supply side is a subsidy … calling it something else (or ignoring it) equates to lying.

    • The theoretical, aerodynamically drag-limited top speed of my car is 174.48934* miles per hour.

      * I used a 5 digit mantissa because that’s how ClimateScience™ does it and I wanted to be precise. Not realistic – precise. Just like ClimateScience™.

  6. Tassy is a rare example of good-renewables, “greens” often rely on its decades (some from the 1950s) old hydroelectric system to hype the so-called “energy transition” that is “sweeping the world”.

    South Australia is a good (for spectators, sadly not for the residents) example of the wind death spiral, whereby wind subsidies destroy the market for proper power stations, with obvious consequences this summer or next:

    Now the state of Victoria has got renewables-fever:

    With this devastating quote from the above link:

    “As the industry which will make the vast majority of investment and manage customer impacts we are concerned and disappointed that the Victorian Government has not consulted with the energy industry on the development of this policy,” Mr Warren said.

    • Ironically it may be “environmentalists” that are keeping a lot of the old coal power stations going, they have produced such onerous and expensive site remediation requirements that it is cheaper for the owners to keep them going than to close them down.

    • What I worry about as a South Australian are the blackouts that will occur when Victoria switches over to wind and the wind is not blowing in either place which means our backup electrical supply is unavailable. Are there any South Australians reading this who know what the plan will be or haven’t our green masters looked that far ahead?

      • worry waaay before we in Vic go to wind..cos it mightnt happen
        since sa killed PA power..and youre rel;ying on Vic now..and vic was warning us last 2 summers that they were battling to supply US, let alone you.
        if you reckon the 3 powerco ripoff of hundred per yr pricehike now is a problem?
        wait a bit.
        use your vote wisely n well and vote for the INDY who has guts enough to stand up n deny the carbon scam
        dunno who/where for you but they do exist:-)

    • The renewables are supposed to edge out the coal plant…

      No Australian coal power plant has a future – they are stranded assets

  7. So much garbage, so little time.

    The state owned Hydro-electric system deliberately and systematically dropped dam levels to around 22% to capitalise on higher energy prices due to the Federal Labor carbon tax 2012, now repealed, by 2014.

    That state owned asset was under the management of the Labor State Government, who had been in power, through dodgy deals with the Greens between 1998-2013 – meaning that the Hydro’s board was well and truly stacked to a leftist ideology.

    This time of Labor’s included oversight to the installation of the Basslink cable, joining the producer, but not the consumer, to the national electricity market. Meaning that ordinary Tasmanian’s also got to pay extra for the carbon tax, for their mostly clean, green hydro power.

    The reliance of supply/export via Basslink, coupled with additional revenue generation allowed the state run system to fail to manage water flows against inevitable dry periods.

    The rain stopped last June, but restarted in March, a 9 month period of effective drought like conditions.

    The cloud seeding alluded to here was targeted and localised at the Upper Derwent valley on the 4th and resulted in 3.5mm of rain.
    The East Coast low arrived with strong winds from the North East on the 5th & 6th – pushing any remaining particulates further south east & dumping into the upper Derwent valley another 39mm of rain.

    The water that caused the flooding was not from the Upper Derwent valley – but from spilling non-hydro lakes that received over 110mm rain across the 2 days.

    Launceston, Tassie’s 2nd biggest city had extensive flooding – the worst since 1929, but only received 59mm of rain.- however the catchment area of the South and North Esk river received far greater – without the benefit of any cloud-seeding.

    Tassie lower east coast recorded similar falls to flooded area & my water tanks spilled for 3 day – without any flooding.

    The renewable didn’t ‘fail’ – management of that renewable did.

    • The rain may have stopped in March where you live but the hydro inflows were very healthy through most of last winter, all that happened was a very dry spring and summer, which are relatively dry months anyway, so Hydro Tasmania loses credibility by crying drought, and totally failing to mention the balls-out over-consumption of water during the wet winter:

      • June – March on the Lower East Coast, but your are right in relation to winter inflows – excepting for the stacked leftist Hydro board – flogging off the renewable Tassie needed for the abnormally low inflows Sept – March

        It should also be noted that last year was Tassie’s coldest winter in 60 years, with snow to sea level in Hobart, twice now in my lifetime – leading to much greater outflows than normal to meet heating demands.

    • Considering the management of renewables is virtually always done by the government, that would mean a massive fail in all areas. Granted, hydro unless abused is generally more reliable than wind and solar, without backup, lights go out. There simply is no way of getting around that.

      For two months now, the turbines I can see from my window have sat idle for most of the time. There were a couple of days where a storm hit, wind went to 30 mph for about an hour, and then stopped. I can’t think of much that is more useless than these bird-killing turbines (they are located on the flyway for bald eagles hunting in the river).

    • This time of Labor’s included oversight to the installation of the Basslink cable, joining the producer, but not the consumer, to the national electricity market. Meaning that ordinary Tasmanian’s also got to pay extra for the carbon tax, for their mostly clean, green hydro power.

      Basslink became commercially active in the Australian electricity market on 28 April 2006 … long before Julia Gillards “there will not be a carbon tax under a govt. that I lead” carbon tax.

      • it would be much better to say – If Tassie had more Hydro Dams.

        Yesterday – we had no sunshine at all, today is much the same and at best – at this time of year – we get 8 hours of sunshine a day

  8. Don’t worry, because Australia’s energy problems will soon be solved by miraculous developments in wind energy technology due to emerge from research at the University of Wollongong :
    “Researchers from the University of Wollongong are developing technologies for offshore wind turbines that are one-third the price, 1000 times more efficient and could be installed off the coast of Australia in the next 5 years.”
    And what is even more astonishing, is that the University itself DID make these claims regarding the prospects for a research project conducted by a junior researcher. And also astonishing that vast numbers of useful idiots believed the hype.
    The generator stage on a modern wind turbine is already operating at over 90% efficiency.
    A 1000x improvement on 90% efficiency seems improbable at any time in the near future!! :)

    • “indefatigablefrog”, the City of Wollongong would no doubt welcolme more cheap offshore energy to compliment their breakthrough (more like breaking up) wave machine technology. I notice in this article (see link below) the originator of this marvelleous wave machine was once connected to the University of Wollongong. Oh, the wonders of “cheap, clean” energy schemes!

      • Yeah, I am familiar with that failed project.
        A white elephant that became a beached whale. And an ugly looking rusty beached whale.
        This is not even a new idea. It’s the same old oscillating water column with air turbine device.
        What is curious about grant seeking and subsidy seeking ventures in the renewables world – is that people seem to be happy to keep inventing the same failed designs over and over again.
        And they are also happy to keep deploying them in a similar manner at a similar scale.
        Some sort of international body should have documented the designs and their failures so that we could have some chance of learning from past mistakes.
        Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it!!!
        But here is a possible improvement (see link below) – where, instead of manufacturing a tethered off-shore monstrosity, the wave trapping space is built into the shoreline out of concrete. And then the heavy turbine can be sited above the waves on solid ground.
        This seems like a more sensible approach.
        Although, I’ve been watching wave power fail to deliver cost effective energy supply for 30 years – so I am not holding my breath!!

  9. Depend on and build a power grid dependent on last year’s weather (or in the case of wind and solar, the day’s weather) and you leave yourselves open to the opposite of a “hundred year flood”. (Hydro power is very good…depending on where it is placed.)
    “Renewable” energy?
    Why not build a power grid based on a millennia or more of stored energy? Why is that not considered dependable energy that has been “renewed”?
    Nuclear only adds dependable energy to the grid.
    Wind and solar might be good at the end of the wire. And even where there is no wire to the grid. But to supply the grid?
    “California Dreamin'”.
    Reality interferes.

  10. The problems of wind and low-head hydro all through the 1800s were the primary motivating force for the development of Better/Faster/Cheaper steam engines. As far as western civilization goes, wind power is a “Been There/Done That” situation. As far as windmills go, using fancy materials and nifty paint jobs does not change the essential nature of the experience.

  11. I hope that “TonyfromOz”will not object to my pointing out his submission to the Queensland consultation on that State’s proposal to source 50% power from renewables by 2030.
    It is an impressively researched article , arguing the inviability of the scheme , and could perhaps be used as a template for those faced with such proposals in their own provinces or countries .
    One such occasion might be the proposal by the UK minister that we source 100% of our power from renewables by 2030(or 2050?) , expressed at a time when slow moving Lows meant that wind flow was such that metered wind power regularly failed to deliver 2% of demand and the country was covered in thick cloud for days on end.

  12. Meanwhile, here in Southern California, a perhaps-record heat wave is occurring. Perhaps, because there have been plenty of heat waves in the past. The big concern this time around is the lack of natural gas from the Aliso Canyon underground storage facility due to a recent leak that was repaired. Authorities will not allow the gas storage facility to be fully pressurized, that is, more gas stored until certain tests are completed. However, the renewable energy produced in California is providing approximately 30 percent of the grid power at the moment, 9200 MW out of a demand of 33,000 MW. The major share of the renewables is solar at 7300 MW. What could have been a disaster due to inadequate natural gas is now manageable thanks to the installation of renewable energy facilities. In California, those systems include wind, solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and small hydroelectric.

    I also add that California has for a few years now required the highest efficiency power plants be installed for natural gas power, the combined-cycle gas turbine plants or CCGT. These run with almost half the fuel compared to the older, Rankine-cycle plants – also known as Steam plants or steamers.

    A little foresight in requiring both renewables and efficient gas-fired power plants is just about to save the day. Or days, depending on how long the heat lingers.

    The California grid status can be viewed at

    • Huh, you’re actually singing the praises of fossil fueled power plants? Be still my heart. And, you linked to a page that wasn’t your law blog? What is the world coming too.

      • Of course load-following gas-fired power plants are a terrific complement to wind power. Every engineer knows that. Wind serves to reduce natural gas consumption, prolonging the life of underground gas reserves, and reducing the price of natural gas. All those things combine to kill nuclear power, which is the best benefit.

        Grid-scale electrical storage is here, so eventually gas-fired power plants will not be required. I’d provide a link but don’t want you to have a heart attack.

      • “Of course load-following gas-fired power plants are a terrific complement to wind power.”

        You mean like when there is no wind, and they must supply 100% of demand?

        So the wind power is just a pointless, expensive, environmentally damaging waste of time and money.

        Thank you for confirming that.

      • “Wind serves to reduce natural gas consumption, prolonging the life of underground gas reserves, and reducing the price of natural gas”

        A viable energy alternative to “fossils”, say fission, would do that a lot better.

      • catweazle666: Just a few posts upstream from here Roger was complaining about including the costs of fossil fuel plants for backup when calculating how much wind and solar cost.

      • Roger,

        Have you ever spent any time looking at the misery that IWTs are causing eastern California residents?

        Residents in places such at Ocotillo, CA?

        Ever heard of Valley Fever?

    • Grid-scale electrical storage is here

      No, it isn’t.

      Do you have anything factual or truthful to contribute?

    • That’s hilarious. Expensive Unreliables to the rescue. Just what are you smoking out there in La-La land?

    • Roger, I believe it was 31% renewables that day but that was at noon and peak demand occurs much later in the day. During peak demand the renewables had dropped to 17%. So CCGT has to power down in the middle of the day and then ramp back up quickly to meet peak demand. That’s additional unnecessary wear on those state of the art NG plants.

      • which is why California has ambitious plans for grid storage for frequency response – eases the ramp up/down from solar – quicker response than gas plant.

      • So we are going to increase the cost of an already uneconomical power source by an order of magnitude by adding storage, and that’s going to get people to love it?

      • “grid storage for frequency response”

        the what?

        Do you even understand what you are typing?

  13. Moderate amounts of radiation are good for you. People with radon gas in their basements have less cancer.

  14. And this is one of the reasons why large hydro is often not counted as renewable. Incidentally, in India the average capacity factor of coal fired power plants has gone down a lot in recent years because of drought. They can’t get enough cooling water.


  15. RE the results of nuclear bombs. I read recently that Hiroshima was operating as a normal city ten years after 1945. And, also, there were interviews with survivors in their late 80s and 90s in the last few years. If Hiroshima is not contaminated (at least people were living in the same spot within a few years) why are people so afraid?

    An article about nuclear submarines stated that personnel who worked in them were healthier than the average citizen. Those who remained in the area of Chernobyl, and the native animals are all thriving.

    • People are afraid because the Cold War financed massive soviet propaganda to make them afraid

      • Your post makes it sound like it’s no longer going on. It still is, just not by the Soviets.

      • Actually it IS by the (former) soviets. Gazprom is hardly ‘disinterested’

        The KGB didn’t vanish, it got sold off like everything else.

    • There is overwhelming evidence the nuclear scare is based on ignorance, propaganda, and bad movies, and terrible units:

      The same source term of cesium can appear huge when expressed in Bq:

      Assumed amount of the discharge from Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS (Estimated by
      NISA) 2.4×10^17 Bq
      or 240 000 000 000 000 000 Bq !!!!!!

      source: Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency – April 12, 2011

      That number is frightening! No, terrifying! No, it’s über-awful. No, it’s the radioactive oogly-boogley! It’s end-of-the-world bad. At least end-of-Japan.

      But then, you can also use some everyday unit: kg. The mass activity of Cs-137 is 3.2E12 Bq/g (source: IPSN – FICHE RADIONUCLEIDE), so that’s actually 75 kilograms of cesium. Yeah, it’s a big quantity, but does it sound end-of-worldy?

      75 kg (165 lbs) of a pollutant doesn’t sound like the worst case of industrial catastrophe ever, does it?

  16. the private company in charge ran down the dam reservoir to maximise the benefits gained from the subsidy.

    Greedy stupidity … the unanticipated consequence of legislative stupidity.

  17. “If there was any rational scientific, engineering and economic logic underpinning Australia, it would be building best-of-breed nuclear power stations. It’s tectonically stable, has huge amounts of uninhabited space to store waste and vast reserves of resources that it almost always ships offshore for other to do the value adding that comes from refining ores. Instead, they have lost their manufacturing (cars), they are selling their farm land, real-estate and strategic assets to foreign ownership and they wonder why the economy is heading south!”
    You’ve summed up Australia in one neat paragraph.

    • I have, on a number of occasions, written to our Australian political masters, suggesting that we should value add our uranium ore exports by refining in Australia and that we should obtain the bulk of our electricity from nuclear power. I have also said that we should buy Virginia class nuclear submarines to fulfil our Future Submarines project. As you are aware, we are to buy obsolete diesel subs. Part of a reply I received as a result of writing to our current Defence Minister follows, ‘Australia lacks the qualified personnel, experience, infrastructure and regulatory systems required to independently operate and maintain a fleet of nuclear submarines’. Obviously, our masters are content that Australia should remain a fourth world country in relation to nuclear technology. Humiliating.

  18. Actually, renewable drivers alone could cut it. It’s the non-renewable, low-availability technology that cannot alone cut it, and occupies progressive stretches of land and avoids environmental protections in order to do it.

  19. Waste is a non-problem which was discussed here by Willis a while back.
    Mix waste with cement.
    Set into 1m concrete ball.
    Drop into Marianas Trench.

  20. todays NYTimes
    Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident
    The Air Force says that there was no harmful radiation at the crash site in Spain, but interviews with dozens of men and details from declassified documents disagree.
    reckon we might be able to do without nuke crap frankly.

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