Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Awareness is slowly permeating through the media that renewables inevitably lead to higher electricity prices – and that the Australian energy grid is in deep trouble. But this awareness is too little, too late, to save what is left of what was once one of the cheapest electricity grids in the world.
Climate change zealots need to get real
Peta CredlinJune 18, 2017 12:00am
WELL, now we know.
The biggest deniers in the whole climate change debate are those who think we can have affordable power, lower emissions and a reliable network.
And after they almost sleepwalked their way to defeat at the last election, it would appear Coalition MPs have found their voices again on the issue that has defined Australian political debate over the past 15 years or more.
There’s no doubt that any policy that lowers Australia’s CO2 emissions will increase the cost of power and any move away from baseload capacity will make our network more unreliable.
Forget the movie, this is the real “inconvenient truth” that climate change zealots have never wanted to acknowledge. For too long, the views of the Zeitgeist have dominated debate and anyone daring to question any aspect of climate change was branded a sceptic. Scientific fact or not, any issue that’s galvanised the Left to the point of hysteria makes me sceptical that it’s more about the politics than anything else.
Right now, China’s emissions are 20 times those of Australia and even if they meet their Paris Agreement commitments, by 2030, China’s emissions will be 50-60 times ours. Seriously? We sell off industry and jobs in a mistaken belief the world that is acting with similar intent but it is clear they’re not, and won’t. Again, remember my refugee example and you get what I mean.
It’s claimed that the Chief Scientist’s report to COAG aims to address the “trilemma” of achieving lower prices, greater security and a 28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. Wrong. The report is about meeting the emissions reduction aspiration (which it converts into a commitment) at the lowest cost without major interruptions to supply. It’s not about affordable, reliable power; it’s about climate change.
So what about Finkel? The Finkel Report is a government paper released a few days ago in Australia, which attempts to chart a roadmap for transition of Australia to renewable energy.
Buried under the waffle about energy security and orderly transitions and the need for more energy security is this gem;
3.2 Agree to implement an orderly transition:
• NEM emissions reduction trajectory
• Clean Energy Target
• Require all large generators to provide 3 years’ notice of closure.
7.2 Form an Energy Security Board.
The requirement for the notice period is repeated several times throughout the report.
The reason for the three year notice of closure is likely the recent abrupt closure of coal plants in several locations in Australia.
Unlike gas, coal cannot be scaled up and down at whim to try to balance the wild fluctuations of renewables. Under Australian rules (and rules in many US states), renewables appear to have pre-eminent access to the grid.
Australian Coal operators are responding by shutting down now unprofitable businesses.
The Australian government response – force remaining coal plant operators to keep operating for a minimum of three years after their businesses become unprofitable, regardless of financial losses to shareholders.
This in my opinion is naked government expropriation of shareholders funds. Not a policy likely to encourage badly needed investment in Australian energy infrastructure, at least not the kind of investment which will lead to a reduction in skyrocketing Aussie electricity prices.