Aussie MSM: Heavy Industry Not Seeing the Advantages of Low Cost Renewable Energy Opportunities

Blast furnaces of Třinec Iron and Steel Works, Czech Republic
Blast furnaces of Třinec Iron and Steel Works, Czech Republic. By Třinecké železárny, Attribution, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s leading newspapers, aluminium smelters and other heavy industry is just not seeing what their role could be in our renewable energy powered future.

Australia’s climate future to evolve as economy is rebuilt

Just a few months ago there had been growing consensus among scientists, activists, economists and even investors that 2020 would be pivotal in the fight to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

But the Glasgow meeting has been cancelled and politicians are now focused on keeping citizens alive in the face of a more immediate threat.

Rather than lose the momentum that had been growing, scientists and activists groups around the world are focusing on a campaign to ensure that economic stimulus packages being adopted around the world are green.

Leading economist and renewable energy expert Ross Garnaut says Australia’s vast capacity to generate wind and solar energy could fuel not only exports but a boom in domestic heavy industry and replace petrol for transport.

“The full emergence of Australia as an energy superpower of the low-carbon world economy would encompass large-scale early-stage processing of Australian iron, aluminium and other minerals,” Professor Garnaut says.

He told the Herald and The Age that Alcoa and Rio Tinto had already signalled they did not see a long-term role for the nation’s three largest aluminium smelters in their portfolios under current electricity supply arrangements due to their high electricity cost and emissions output.

He believes that if such plants made use of Australia’s advantages in low-cost renewable energy, they could expand their output to meet demand during a global revival in aluminium demand.

Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australia-s-climate-future-to-evolve-as-economy-is-rebuilt-20200517-p54tps.html

Those fools, if only they had a little more faith, and saw past the needs of today to embrace the wonderful opportunity green energy presents to the world’s energy intensive industries.

138 thoughts on “Aussie MSM: Heavy Industry Not Seeing the Advantages of Low Cost Renewable Energy Opportunities

  1. I’m surprised that we all live as well today as we do because I think that governments and industry have been led by burocrats who have little understanding of how machinery really works.

    • I was going to say it differently, but effectively the sam emessage.

      Well, heavy industry requires heavy energy. Who’d a thunkit? Certainly not newspaper reporters, paid-for-life government bureaucrats and university professors; all people so far removed from the real world and yet we allow them to tell us what to do?

      I apologize that my posts here on this great site are becoming increasingly political but this now goes beyond legitimate scientific discussion to deliberately roused hysteria.

      • Since politics is now involved in pretty much everything, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid it.

    • I heard a story of an academic stating that, should a particular item of electrical equipment fail then it could simply be replaced.

      On completion of her talk, my acquaintance asked her to follow him to show her the equipment she was talking about.

      The machinery was very large, heavy, embedded in the building and connected to several other large pieces of infrastructure.

      The ‘simple’ replacement option would have been impossible to implement.

      The real world is parsecs away from academia’s model worlds.

      • A contingent of Pennsylvania’s bureaucrats and politicos when to S. Australia in 2018 to encourage their heavy industry to move to our state, all the while Gov. Wolf signed the Regional Energy Pact to eliminate fossil fuels over the objections of the Legislature and the rate payers–oh and the same goes for nuclear. Must have been one of those junkets that climate wonks are famous for.
        I guess they believe bird mashers and fryers will smelt Al ore!!
        MORONS ALL

    • James Francisco
      I’m surprised that we all live as well today as we do because I think that governments and industry have been led by burocrats who have little understanding of how machinery really works.

      You misspelled burrocrats.

  2. Those Chinese aren’t really building lots more coal power, India isn’t really intending to break coal production records; no, it’s all an elaborate game of industrial misdirection/sabotage – they want to keep the secret of all that ‘cheap reliable renewable’ energy for themselves.

    Journalism like this must be borderline treason.

    • Swamp slugs have higher IQs than journalists like this. These morons have the insight and intelligence of 4th grade boys who collect Swamp Creature cards for trading despite no market for them.

  3. Is this satire?
    Wind and solar are expensive and erratic. Why would anybody who needs abundant and cheap electricity go with those sources of their own free will? The promise of govt subsidies is unconvincing. The govt can change its mind. And, when you think about, what do we Americans buy that is manufactured in countries with a high penetration of their energy market by wind and solar? Places like England. Almost nothing, AFAIK.

    • Is the “Leading economist and renewable energy expert Ross Garnaut” as good as Greta? What can he do that she can’t?

      • Ross has a lot of skin in the renewables game. He needs the outcome he is wishing for here.

      • Ross is all fluff and redefinition, he is at best over educated idiot who thanks to them PM Kevin Rudd got some limelight. His role on the Climate Change Review ended in 2011 and he hasn’t held a position of significance for what now going on decade. His current job is some obscure Economics role at University of Melbourne which he does when he isn’t trying to grab some free cash by plugging a book or doing stuff for MSM. He is basically an educated version of Greta.

      • Garnault managed to be involved in the creation of two massive environmental disasters, at Ok Tedi and Lihir Gold. Looks like he is trying for a third massive disaster.

        • every time I hear the abc promoting this senile twit I cringe
          why the hell he ever got or still gets airtime is a utter mystery
          hes so full of crap he would have been the first to stockpile loopaper to wipe his mouth

  4. Just to add, the lowest electricity costs in Europe, from what I have read, are in Eastern Europe where they use mainly coal for electricity generation.

    • The US has some of the world’s cheapest electricity and natural gas has been the cheapest source of that electricity for a few years now.

      The global LNG (liquefied natural gas) spot market has been very cheap for over a year due in large part to US exporting of LNG at scale. There is now more supply than demand.

      In 2019 and 2020 at a minimum, the cheapest source of electricity globally is natural gas, not coal.

      For 2020, coal will provide less than 20% of US electricity. That’s less than nuclear. Less that renewable [hydro+wind+solar+geothermal].

  5. What happens in an aluminum smelter to the hundreds of pots of molten metal electrolyzing away when the wind stops blowing/sun goes down? Must get ugly.

    • For Aluminum the electrolite itself (cryolite and Al fluoride) even freezes when the power goes off. Think a few hundred full cement trucks getting interrupted in delivery. A large plant is over km long with 400 cells (pots, potlines) that produces a million tons a year.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4131935/figure/F1/?report=objectonly

      Traditionally they have only been built in countries with hydropower, but coal/gas power is fine where cheap and reliable. Did the moron politicians not consult these companies? Did they think just build these quixotic nightmares and aluminum and steel plants would just switch over?

      If I we’re the Russians, I’d build a dozen aluminum and steel plants each and become the global supplier of record using abundant cheap energy. Invite Alcoa and Rio Tinto with a deal they couldnt refuse and those in brain-dead Europe. Canada has abundant hydro installed, fortunately, otherwise they, too, under Trudope, would be shipping their Al plants out.

    • South Australia and Victoria are both pretty much socialist states now and both are heavily invested in renewables. I’m not sure which state it was but in one of those states an aluminum smelter had to shut down because of a massive grid problem. The molten metal cooled to a point that caused irreversible damage to the system. The company shut down it’s operation.

      • I worked near an aluminium plant in Victoria last year and was told by the locals that the owners were paid $A10 million by the taxpayer for every hour the plant was forced off the grid because of a need to ensure no overloading of the system during high demand times.eg hot/cold weather extremes.
        Victoria has an abundance of fossil fuel supply unused.Madness!

  6. Excerpt from the above article:

    Leading economist and renewable energy expert Ross Garnaut says Australia’s vast capacity to generate wind and solar energy could fuel not only exports but a boom in domestic heavy industry and replace petrol for transport.

    “The full emergence of Australia as an energy superpower of the low-carbon world economy would encompass large-scale early-stage processing of Australian iron, aluminium and other minerals,” Professor Garnaut says.
    ___________________

    Where do they get these ridiculous delusions?

    Even little children know that the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow all the time.

    No rational person could be this stupid for this long – the catastrophic global warming / green energy scam is now about 40 years old – and it never made sense!

    Everyone should see by now that the climate scam was never about the climate – it was always a false front for the politics of dictatorship – when they control energy they control everyone.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/04/22/earthday-epic-michael-moores-new-film-trashes-planet-saving-renewable-energy-full-movie-here/#comment-2977639

    Mike Moore finally gets it right… and gets cancelled by the extreme left. Who is the distributor who censored Mike’s latest film “Planet of the Humans”?

    I have two engineering degrees and a career in energy. I will compare my energy achievements with anyone on the planet, and I say Mike Moore is essentially correct in this film.

    A GREEN ENERGY PRIMER – WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY BOTH FAIL DUE TO 1) INTERMITTENCY AND 2) DIFFUSIVITY.

    1) Intermittency means the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow 24/7, and the electric grid needs reliable dispatchable generation, not generation that goes up and down uncontrollably. Battery storage is touted by warmists as the solution, but it does not economically exist at grid-scale – they might as well rely on unicorns to solve the intermittency problem.

    2) Diffusivity means it takes far too much land area to replace conventional energy with wind and/or solar generation –it would take fully ~10% of all the land area in Britain to do so. In the USA, this 10% would total about 300,000 square miles, or all of Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

    Energy experts have known these facts since ~forever – my co-authors and I published them in 2002 – but a leftist lie goes around the world ten times before the truth gets its boots on.

    Regards, Allan

    • Where do they get these ridiculous delusions?

      “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” – George Orwell

    • “Leading economist and energy expert …” indeed.

      These guys annoint and appoint themselves as top notch. Thousands of klimateers gave themselves Nobel Prizes. Cartoonists, philosophers, social(ist) psychologists, historians, sociologists, lawyers, doctors, butchers, bakers, candlestickmakers.. are experts in climate. Look at the protesteth-too-much names of research faculties, particularly in Australia but also in US and Europe.

    • Green energy does not have the energy capacity to reproduce more of itself. So after all fossil fueled power and nuclear power is phased out when windfarms get to the end of their life there is insufficient power from the remaining ‘green power’ to build replacements. Steel, concrete, miles of cable and steel pylons and concrete for distribution etc
      So at the end of the useful life of the systems capturing the diffuse ‘renewable energy’ – The country would have to go cap in hand to another country with reliable baseload power and beg them to make more windfarms/solar farms and the grid cables required. And if they say no Australia joins the 3rd world – that may only take 20 years.

      • An excellent point, Ian W. I bet 99.9% of people fail to understand this crucial point. It is a one-way ticket to serfdom. I’ll be sure to tell my local LNP member.

    • Allan, not only are your points correct but severe weather is a big problem. With 55 years in aviation and a former airline Captain, I have seen thunderstorms and cyclones/hurricanes that can completely destroy wind and solar power. Most don’t know that it is impossible to design wind turbines to withstand vertical sheer but this is what you get in downbursts in severe thunderstorms. Puerto Rico lost all it’s power from wind and solar in HUrricane Marcia.

      Regards

      RK

    • Allan
      You said, “No rational person could be this stupid for this long.” Thus, it is evidence that the green acolytes are not rational.

    • Allan
      You remarked, “… it would take fully …” Another point is that where the sun shines and the wind blows may not be close to where the power is needed, meaning greater distribution infrastructure costs and transmission losses, increasing the need for expanded installations. Also, the best places may compete with other critical land-use needs such as agriculture.

  7. If there is one thing primary metals producers need, it is low cost, reliable electricity 24/7/365! Ross Garnaut’s inability to understand this fundamental requirement is either willful deceit or blatant stupidity.

  8. All one has to do is look to the UK to see what low cost and reliable wind and solar energy has done for their manufacturing. It has all but eliminated their smelters, the backbone of heavy industry. Just as cheap (in cost and quality) steel and aluminum from China had already done to smelters in the US. Without metal a country can not sustain itself in time of war and in peace it would be dependent on outside source price and availability to maintain manufacturing. All part of the AGW plan and it’s being executed right in front of our noses. If you do the math and physics renewable energy cannot even sustain itself much less society as we enjoy it today. Control energy and industry and you control the world. Trump knows it, and they call him a madman for bringing industry back to America. He’s put a brick in the spoke of the Progressive/Globalist plan and fortunately there’s enough people in America to realize HIS plan will save us.

    • RE: US steel smelters

      The US still smelts iron ore for about 25-30% of the steel it consumes.

      But another 50% or so of US steel comes from recycling scrap. That doesn’t require smelting unless they are adding pig iron to the scrap. [I don’t know how much pig iron is imported].

      In 2019 only 19% of the steel consumed by the US was imported.

      You can see the biggest competitor to US iron ore smelting plants over recent decades isn’t imports. It is US electric arc furnaces that recycle steel instead of smelting iron ore.

      • I should add the US has built about 6 million tonnes per year of standalone iron ore smelting capability over the last decade.

        Iron ore goes in, pig iron [DRI – direct reduced iron] comes out.

        The DRI is used as input for electric arc furnaces.

        The US consumes about 100-120 million tonnes of steel a year, so the above represents about 5 or 6% of US consumption.

        Or if you prefer: Electric arc furnaces provide slightly over 50% of the steel consumed in the US. The main input is scrap steel, but about 10% of the input is DRI (pig iron) which is smelted in the US.

  9. Neil Ferguson has reportedly modeled all of this stuff with input from the lady who he was sneaking out to play recombinant genetics with during the lockdown. What could go wrong. I mean he is an expert right???

  10. Somewhere I heard the comment, “Aluminum is congealed energy” Awhile back I saw a You Tube about the scrap iron business and an electric arc furnace that was rated in the millions of watts*. In that Michael Moore “Planet of the Humans” documentary one of the scenes was at the rock concert where one of the contractors pointed to the solar panel and said it could run a couple of toasters.

    *This wasn’t it, but you’ll get the point

  11. If these morons focused on low carbon power instead of renewable power (which often are not even low carbon) thy would learn that the nextgeneration of nuclear power – molten salt smal modular reactors, can supply more power than they will ever need for a cost less than half that of wind/solar. And it’s safer to boot and can be installed ANYWHERE and rapidly at that. You cannot characterize these people as carbon knowledeable at all.

    • Still waiting to hear back from you about when those MSRs will be commercially available Col.

  12. There is nothing to stop the Greens from investing THEIR money in an aluminum plant that only uses wind and solar energy for electricity.

    They could call their company Algreenium and supply low cost aluminum to the world.

    Looking forward to seeing the Tides Foundation, and people like Michael Mann investing.

    • Joe,
      Some Greens are investing in green funds and green projects. So some of them are walking their talk…. A large pool of cash looking for green projects exists. But, mostly they are seeing the value of their investment decline, with the exception of taxpayer supported guaranteed rate wind farms. Their other tactic of attempting to have investment funds divest of oil and gas is just virtue signalling, that sooner or later their investment advisor will tell them is financial opportunity wasted.

      • DMacKenzie

        The greens should invest in wind and solar powered aluminum smelters.

        That way they can lose their money faster.

        But no subsidies for the greens. After all they say subsidies are not necessary.

        So greens put up YOUR money. Oh, and don’t forget to make wind and solar totally recyclable.

    • Joe
      And when the inevitable grid failure causes the ‘aluminium’ to solidify, they can proclaim to the world that they have just transmuted it into ‘unobtainium.’

  13. “Aussie MSM: Heavy Industry Not Seeing the Advantages of Low Cost Renewable Energy Opportunities”

    This completely misrepresents the article. The quote is:

    “He told the Herald and The Age that Alcoa and Rio Tinto had already signalled they did not see a long-term role for the nation’s three largest aluminium smelters in their portfolios under current electricity supply arrangements due to their high electricity cost and emissions output.

    He believes that if such plants made use of Australia’s advantages in low-cost renewable energy, they could expand their output to meet demand during a global revival in aluminium demand.”

    The article is saying that aluminium smelting does not have a long term role using conventional energy sources, but Garnaut believes they do have a future with renewables.

      • My point is, the article says something entirely different to what the headline here claims.

        I think heavy industry would be very happy with reliable low cost renewables. They will be able to make use of cheap energy however it comes. However, the article does not say anything about that.

        • I’m sure they would all be happy with low cost unicorn energy. When do you think it will come Nick? We’re all waiting.

        • “…My point is, the article says something entirely different to what the headline here claims…”

          “Entirely different?” Dream on. The best you could do was nitpicky wordsmithing that amounts to nothing. The headline is right-on.

          “…I think heavy industry would be very happy with reliable low cost renewables. They will be able to make use of cheap energy however it comes. However, the article does not say anything about that…”

          Wait, so now you want to argue about what the article and headlines don’t mention, including running industry on something like unicorn farts someday? Besides, the headline says, “Heavy Industry Not Seeing the Advantages of Low Cost Renewable Energy Opportunities.” “Not seeing” is reality and present tense. “Would be very happy” and “will be able” are hypothetical and future, respectively.

        • “reliable low cost renewables.”

          A FANTASY, that any rational person knows can never exist.!!

        • I think heavy industry would be very happy with reliable low cost renewables.

          How coy. The truth is industry is happy with reliable low cost energy. They don’t give a tinker’s d*mn where it comes from. So all the renewables fans have to do is deliver it.

          And they haven’t.

        • Nick,
          Here is an nput from a person (me) who was actively involved for years in planning and policy inputs for the future of Australian mineral processing. We owned and operated smelters and electricity generators we built/operated. We lost big $$$ on one smelter we planned poorly to satisfy a director on his hobby horse. Ignorant advocacy can cost.
          Overall, at no stage was either wind or solar calculated to provide electricity worth thinking about. Main reasons were intermittency, diffusivity and maintenance needs in locations that were sometimes remote (near the mine) and lacking local skilled tradesmen. We could do without the cost of housing and feeding a team of people to clean the dust off solar panels, it the cost it keeping large cranes in remote places to fix broken windmills.
          As is the norm, wide ranges of electricity costs were used in sensitivity analyses, wide enough to rebut any thought that since then, renewables have got much cheaper. The fundamentals of physics and chemistry have not changed. The main change has been this increased push to minimise CO2 emissions.
          In short, there was and is no way that renewables were or are attractive to producers planning new plant like smelters. We expected electricity generation to have a positive economic balance, but under many assumptions for renewables, they were negative, in the sense that the amount of electricity needed to build and operate them was more than they produced in their lifetimes.
          Nick, you must accept a possibility that Ross Garnaut is michevious, misleading and protecting vested interest with big returns for himself. His reports about mining are poorly informed to the extent that they read like he is wilfully ignoring costly drawbacks able to sink his dream time plans.
          It is dangerous to assume that he has the national interest at heart. He is pushing nonsense able to harm us. His views are pumped up by MSM so the interested public expects a reply from industry. Hence involved mineral producers say silly things in lip service to these socialistic demands, just to shut them up while they quietly conduct normal cheque book investment and get on with the real jobs.
          I could write a lot more, but I have an appointment with my homeopathy expert for my next cancer treatment.
          I do not think he is a quack.
          Quack, quack, quack.
          Geoff S

          • Geoff,
            Al smelters are great for hoovering up cheap coulombs wherever they can be found. That is why they appeared in places like Victoria and Bluff, NZ. And they will be good for hoovering up wind and solar production too, whenever that is part of the grid.

            Where I disagree with Garnaut is that I think Australia does not now have a large competitive advantage in renewable energy. It has some, but probably not enough to make it worth shipping alumina in (to the S&E locations) and then metal out. There are more choices.

            Wishing you well with the treatment.

          • Stokes
            Any industrial activity can benefit from cheap “coulombs.” However, some activities are critically sensitive to unreliable supplies. That is, if a fast food business goes without electricity for a few hours, it is an inconvenience. If an aluminum smelter experiences the same, it will likely mean the end of the plant.

          • Nothing has changed Geoff even with all the green speak being pushed around. All large mine and smelters build there own power stations you simply can not rely on someone else.

            In Western Australia the state is so reliant on the sector we have stopped even playing green speak games we have no emissions or renewables targets at all. We had a 15% renewables by 2020 target that was never going to be met and formally abandoned.

            Western Australia is currently the only state with no emission or renewables targets. The official line is the state acknowledges the Federal Governments emission targets now pay us compensation for taking steps to meet it because we can’t do it economically.

          • Clyde
            “If an aluminum smelter experiences the same”
            The smelter gets its power from the national grid. If the wind dies down, power gets more expensive. It doesn’t stop.

          • “If the wind dies down, power gets more expensive. It doesn’t stop.”

            Unless there isn’t enough RELIABLE electricity on the grid.

            And if the unreliables were not there, this fluctuations would not exist, and price would be lower all the tome.

            If subsidies, feed-in mandates, cross-payments etc didn’t exist, nobody would bother with UNRELIABLE power supply systems.

            But you know all that, don’t you Nick !

    • Actually it’s a pretty normal tactic from these industries to play the “we have no future in [X]” (substitute any country) in order to reduce what they pay for energy etc

    • “…under current electricity supply arrangements due to their high electricity cost and emissions output.”

      Yes because current prices have been pushed through the roof by renewable subsidies, continuity of supply has already been compromised by over expansion/dependence on renewables, and emissions are ideologically punished/taxed. The rest is just daft because low cost renewable energy doesn’t exist and never will. So obviously there is no competing against China etc. now or in the future who will just do it the cheapest dirtiest way possible.

      The article itself is a misrepresentation of the real underlying situation. The demise of the industry is the self imposed green ideology which is already here destroying industry and jobs – the ‘cheap conventional’ energy sources have already gone, deliberately made ‘expensive as renewables conventional’.

      e.g.

      https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6307342/rio-tinto-boss-says-smelters-on-thin-ice/

      Although they have mostly coal baseload they are contractually obliged to match wholesale prices, and they also have to ‘shut down’ to balance the grid when unreliables strike.

    • “but Garnaut believes they do have a future with renewables.”

      And Nick is compounding Garnaut’s ignorance.

      Aluminium smelting has ZERO future in a renewable UNRELIABLE energy supply syste,

      And you know it, Nick.

    • I read it differently to you, Nick. The last paragraph says heavy industry could take advantage of low-cost renewable energy. The previous paragraph says they don’t, principally because electricity prices are too high. A feature of the current electricity supply is that it has as much renewable energy as the Australian governments can enforce. So it seems correct to say that industry is not seeing the advantages of low-cost renewable energy. You could interpret that as meaning that there are advantages but industry can’t see them, or you could interpret it as meaning that there aren’t any advantages to be seen. I think the latter is the one intended.

      • Mike,
        “I read it differently to you, Nick. The last paragraph says heavy industry could take advantage of low-cost renewable energy. The previous paragraph says they don’t, principally because electricity prices are too high.”

        That is a pretty inconsistent reading. Read those last two sentences again.

        In fact they are specifically talking about aluminium smelting. About 40 years ago, we had regional electricity markets here supplied by generators next to coal mines. There was cheap off-peak energy, since it was better to keep the generators running 24/7. It paid to ship alumina from the north, extract and ship out the Al. Deals were done, relying on the strength of Al smelting that it was actually very good at handling intermittent power. They could cut usage during peak times.

        That was already coming unstuck with the national grid and market. There was a lot more competition for that off-peak electricity. And some of our fuels, especially gas, were more attractive to export.

        Al economics depend on the averaged cost of electricity, so cheap renewables are great. But it no longer pays to ship the alumina to a coal mine location. Wind and sun are everywhere.

          • Yes, you are playing a game of UNTHINKING advocacy of renewables and AGW.

            You are deliberately mis-informing and trying to cloud the issue in an attempt to avoid facing reality.

            Its tedious and boring, and below someone of your self-assumed intelligence.

            You are only fooling YOURSELF.

          • Nick,
            You could find and read a proper economic analysis of the true cost of Australian electricity from fossil fuels compared with renewables. I have been unable to find any study without core assumptions that government policy has to incorporated in the cost analysis. This means that the economic analysis includes matters like renewable energy targets, obligations forced by the Paris agreement and so on. If you have found comparative studies with greenfields starts, then you might have a reason to assert that renewables are cheaper than ff. I have no more to go on than the sudden increase in Australia electricity prices at the time that govt policies started to bite. Coal was cheap before then, the coal + renewables mix was more expensive after them. Plenty of studies show this.
            So, do you have any clean, stand alone economic analysis that shows renewables cheaper than ff? If not, what is your basis for supporting renewables? Cheers. Geoff

        • Nick, I can’t agree with you when you say “Al smelting [is] actually very good at handling intermittent power”. From the reliable source, Wikipedia: “However power must not be interrupted for more than 4–5 hours, since the pots have to be repaired at significant cost if the liquid metal solidifies.”. So a smelter can reduce usage during peak hour, but coping with renewables’ unreliability is something else altogether.

          • Mike,
            ” So a smelter can reduce usage during peak hour, but coping with renewables’ unreliability is something else altogether.”

            The grid isn’t unreliable. The only issue is the price; if the wind is blowing, power is cheaper, otherwise not so much. Smelters are well placed to take up energy when it is cheap and abundant, and cut back when it is more expensive.

          • Ok, Nick, I think we’ve solved it. Grid electricity is expensive, and it looks like it will be expensive until Aus can bring serious amounts of gas or coal generators into production, so smelters have cut back – to zero. Coming back to the original point, we’ve eliminated on-grid and off-grid renewables as options, so there isn’t any cheap renewable energy that smelters can take advantage of.

          • Nick like Ross is either completely ignorant or completely stupid … you don’t run these sort of smelters without your own power station … because you don’t trust anyone else.

            Search the words “Alcoa Cogeneration” “Rio Tinto Cogeneration” now read where the cogeneration sites are.

            You want to guess what happens if a smelter loses power?

            The company execs are trying to walk the stupid green speak line all the while knowing there is no chance in hell because they have gas or coal cogeneration power stations at those sites. They are simply give Lip Service to the green cause and MSM.

          • Mike,
            ” So a smelter can reduce usage during peak hour, but coping with renewables’ unreliability is something else altogether.”

            The grid isn’t unreliable. The only issue is the price; if the wind is blowing, power is cheaper, otherwise not so much. Smelters are well placed to take up energy when it is cheap and abundant, and cut back when it is more expensive.

            How would wind or solar ever be cheaper than FF? (Without using taxpayer money.)

          • “Nick like Ross is either completely ignorant or completely stupid … you don’t run these sort of smelters without your own power station”
            Just not true. The big Portland Alcoa smelter does not have its own power station, or at least not one that can run the plant.

          • “The grid isn’t unreliable. The only issue is the price; if the wind is blowing, power is cheaper, otherwise not so much. Smelters are well placed to take up energy when it is cheap and abundant, and cut back when it is more expensive.”

            As Geoff says, you are better…….

            If you don’t know that the Oz grid has been made unreliable?
            If you think spot prices make electricity cheaper, if you think ignoring all the addition costs ‘ renewables impose on the grid is honest?
            If you think smelters etc. were designed to be run stop/start?

            All the time grids are suffering incredibly expense to deal with the problems renewables create. Until renewables are responsible for, and people like you are open about their true cost, I guess you’ll just keep posting spin and propaganda.

            The UK grid has just had to pay Sizewell to power down because of the surging windmills, to prevent a blackout. It was vastly cheaper than paying the winds preferential rates to disconnect. How is that good? What is even the point – knocking out one zero carbon generator for another and tripling the cost of the electricity.

            I guess Nick considers that a win folks!

          • “If you don’t know that the Oz grid has been made unreliable?”
            It is reliable. When did it last fail? There is no stage at which a smelter has been unable to get electricity due to a failure of generation.

            “If you think smelters etc. were designed to be run stop/start?”
            They are designed to work with varying current. The original deal with our Portland smelter was that they would get cheap electricity (and the state would pay for the expensive power lines needed) as long as they eased off at peak demand times to smooth the load.

        • Nick, one thing capitalists are usually quite good at is working out how to make more money, often by cutting costs.

          How is it that you can see opportunities that they can’t? How is it that you’re more familiar with the capital and running costs of a vast smelter than they are?

          Are they ideologically wedded to fossil fuels, and willing to lose money, market share and profits to avoid using renewables… or are you talking out of your hat?

          With your superior knowledge, why don’t you and some savvy investors set up a smelter in competition with these fossil-fuelled dinosaurs? You’ll make out like bandits and become rich, rich, rich!

          • “How is it that you can see opportunities that they can’t? “

            Who says they can’t? That was my original point. The article pointed out a reported complaint by Al smelters about current electricity supply arrangements due to their high electricity cost and emissions output. Not about the future of renewables.

            In fact smelters now and in the future will not choose between FF and renewables; they will simply draw power from the grid whenever costs are favorable. Adding a new source of power will give more periods of low costs.

          • You clearly have no idea Nick do some reading or better yet go out and visit some sites, in most non covid times they run tours. Any large smelters run there own power station which they often feed back into the grid to use as smoothing for the power station in what is called cogeneration.

          • ” will simply draw power from the grid ”

            So nearly all fossil fuel or nuclear (except where hydro happens to be viable”

            Thanks for FINALLY telling the truth, Nick !

          • But Nick, you and your canny investors won’t be relying on Australia’s current expensive fossil-fueled energy! You’ll install renewables – after all, they’re cheaper and reliable – and make $$$$$$$!

        • No industrial scale manufacturing/processing could plan their production based on intermittent power supply. Saying otherwise just displays the ignorance and lack of background typical to people living off taxpayers’ money

          • No according to Nick Stokes they just draw it off the grid and the green stuff happens elsewhere 🙂

      • “the advantages of low-cost renewable energy.”

        For heavy manufacturing, there are only disadvantages.

        And renewables are not low-cost.

      • I read it as sarcasm
        Show me the advantages as I fail to see them

        It will be like here in canada where the usual suspects will freely state that X industry will likely have to move to the third world in order for Canada to meet emission targets.

        From the mouths of (those with the intellect of) babes

    • Hi Nick,
      I believe you missed the target with your bold text there old bean, the important phrase there is
      “…they did not see a long-term role for the nation’s three largest aluminium smelters in their portfolios under current electricity supply arrangements due to their high electricity cost…”
      Business exists to produce a product at a profit. Idealistic greenwashing claims about lower emissions only matter if idealistic consumers and investors are gullible enough to buy into that crap. As Australian energy prices are driven deep into ‘exorbitant’ territory by the political determination to subsidise crap energy boondoggles and then obliging the grid operator to (expensively) work daily miracles to keep the grid from collapsing whenever the breezes change, obviously the smallchange available from idealist consumers and investors buying-in to crap isn’t valuable enough to offset that ever ruder energy cost.
      ‘Cheap renewables’ is a pipedream and energy intensive industries weren’t established in Australia because our labourers and their unions are charming, it was precisely because conventional energy (king coal) was cheap before the energy markets were politically manipulated to give the illusion that renewables were cheaper. Conventional energy was also as reliable down under as a wood burning stove before political market mainpulation to give the illusion that renewables were viable made return on investment in conventional energy doubtful.
      One doesn’t don’t ship bauxite from Brazil to Trinidad and Tobago or Iceland ro refine it in order to enjoy a scenic cruise on a bulk cargo vessel, it’s due to energy cost in the refining countries being so cheap as to make the cost of transporting ore competative against the energy cost one wouldincur if refining in Brazil. Which will shortly be the case for Australian bauxite shipping to China or India for refining.
      The article might wish that aluminium smelters had a future if renewables were cheap and reliable, but what the article appears to be dodging is that those industries DID have a future if conventional energy sources had been left unmolested by green-fingered politicians who take advice from accountants whose next expense account depends on the gullible warming gravy train chugging right along.

      Some context for readers outside Australia on who Ross Garnaut is (from Thickipedia):
      “He was previously distinguished Professor of Economics at the Australian National University…
      Throughout his career Garnaut held a number of influential political and economic positions as: senior economic adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke (1983–85), Australia’s ambassador to China (1985–88),…
      On 30 April 2007 the state and territory governments of Australia, at the request of Kevin Rudd, then leader of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition, appointed Garnaut to examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy and recommend medium to long-term policies and policy frameworks…
      In September 2010, Professor Garnaut was appointed as an independent expert advisor to the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. The committee will explore options for the implementation of a carbon price and will help to build consensus on how Australia will tackle the challenge of climate change…”

      In other words, MrGarnaut is another public servant with a formal education in imaginary numbers who holds a season ticket to ride the gullible warming gravy train; obviously a trustworthy opinion on matters of energy policy.

    • He didn’t misrepresent anything; that’s exactly the meaning of the article. Alcoa and Rio Tinto want to divest themselves of aluminium smelters because of the high cost of electricity. At the same time “the good professor” tells everyone that they could expand output by using cheap renewable energy. Hence, the heavy industry does not see the advantages of low cost renewable energy opportunities.

    • Nick completely misrepresents what Alcoa and Rio Tinto stated.
      Nick substitutes his version of unicorn energy to mask the meaning of Alcoa’s and Rio Tinto’s statements.


      Nick Stokes May 17, 2020 at 11:41 am
      “He told the Herald and The Age that Alcoa and Rio Tinto had already signalled they did not see a long-term role for the nation’s three largest aluminium smelters in their portfolios under current electricity supply arrangements due to their high electricity cost and emissions output.

      Both industrial giants would be thrilled with cheap consistent high quality electricity.
      Not expensive electricity due to politicians closing and destroying cheap energy sources while cramming inconsistent intermittent low quality electricity down industry’s throats.

      N.B. The alleged economist author fails to mention Alcoa’s solidified aluminum furnaces thanks to renewable energy failing to supply Alcoa’s smelters.

    • I was working on part of the BHP Olympic Downs Expansion project a few years ago, to upgrade the existing underground mine to a huge open-cut operation to fully exploit one of the largest copper and uranium deposits in the world. Being so remote, sourcing enough reliable power was considered a major issue, to address which I believe BHP was considering building its own nuclear power plant, to be powered by uranium enriched from BHP yellowcake. But of course the mine is in South Australia…

  14. The only ‘green’ energy that makes any sense for aluminum smelting is hydroelectric. That’s why aluminum smelters were located in remote areas next to hydroelectric dams.

  15. Maybe the Real world could offer a trade – give these B Arkers enough premade metal, composite blades, earth moving equipment (and fuel) to start their own little world – call it Algreenastan or something. They can go off and create an industrial base and start exporting cheap (but quality) processed raw materials to the Real World. The only thing, is they have to stay there.

  16. It’s amazing how people who have to spend their own money, rarely do what leftists demand

  17. Isn’t it interesting how this article is published at a time when China’s alumin(i)um industry is product dumping all across Asia?

  18. “The full emergence of Australia as an energy superpower of the low-carbon world economy…”

    An “energy superpower” ???? Without access to abundant fossil fuels or a nuclear power fleet of generating stations that is a contradiction in terms. Does the Ignorant Professor Garnaut think Australia is going to deter the modern Chinese Navy when they sail up to the Aussie coast defended with a fleet of 19th Century-style sail masted ships?

    And the 2nd half of that sentence from the Professor, “… would encompass large-scale early-stage processing of Australian iron, aluminium and other minerals,” Professor Garnaut says.

    All that really says is the serious levels of energy input to make fully refined steel, aluminum, and other finished metals will be off-shored to China or another 3rd World country. Along with those goes the disappearance of the sk1lled jobs and foundries, and (critically for national security) the ability make those essential metals for an economy and for military build up of munitions, ships, planes, and trucks and tanks.

    Professor Garnaut is what Nassim Taleb would refer to as an “IYI.”

  19. “Leading economist and renewable energy expert Ross Garnaut”

    This is satire? Right ?

    No wonder no-one takes the MSM seriously !

  20. For the uneducated masses who don’t understand energy density or intermittent production of such, this would be equivalent to cooking a turkey in an electric oven with solar power. With a big enough solar panel, (4000 watts) you might be able to do it between the hours of 9-10 Am and 3-4 Pm, but if it were cloudy, then you might not eat turkey that day. Or if the wind didn’t blow for a few days, the oven wouldn’t even get hot. My 100 year old wood cookstove would cook that turkey any time of the day or night, with a handful of kindling and 3-4 small logs. And make enough hot water for a half dozen bath tubs. Advocating renewable high grade electricity for an aluminum smelter is beyond crazy. It is insane.

  21. Perhaps Ross Garnaut, as an academic could calculate for us mathematically, scientifically and energy illiterate green brothers across the Tasman how we smelt your bauxite with wind energy and what the investment required would be to meet our contractual obligation to Rio Tinto to provide 572MW continuous capacity through to 2030?
    New Zealand has one of Rio Tinto’s Aluminium Smelters at Tiwai Point in the South Island.
    In the1960’s Tiwai Point was chosen as the location for an aluminium smelter for several reasons. Aluminium smelting requires a large and exceptionally reliable power source to continually supply electricity to reduction cells,
    The smelter’s continuous power demand from the national grid is about 570 MW. Most of the energy for Tiwai Point is supplied from the Manapouri hydroelectric power station, via two double circuit 220kV transmission lines. The facility is the largest electricity consumer in New Zealand, and uses approximately one-third of the total electricity consumed in the South Island and 13% of the total electricity nationwide, equivalent to about 680,000 households.[5]
    New Zealand Aluminium Smelters has a contract for electricity supply with Meridian Energy for the continuous supply of 572 megawatts for the period 2013 to 2030.[13]
    New Zealand has 17 wind farms operating. These wind farms currently have a combined installed capacity of 690 megawatts.
    The current live data from Transpower shows the country’s entire Wind fleet is supplying 20MW, less than 3% of the nameplate capacity to the national grid and 3.5% of the Tiwai demand. We are in the roaring 40’s with some of the best wind sites in the world.
    It is not hard to see why renewables are not an option for industry.

    • “the country’s entire Wind fleet is supplying 20MW”

      In 2018, in NZ 94.63 petaJoules was generated from hydro, 7.44 pJ from wind. The smelter is there because of hydro, not wind. But every Joule generated from wind leaves water you can take from the dam later.

      • Yes, wind and solar are totally USELESS for smelting and heavy industry

        You KNOW that..

        so stop your childish attempts at distraction from that fact.

        • Yes he is deliberately deflecting that much more than a that and they could never have used Wind. Which means it’s use is like most renewable power up to around 10 percent for non critical stuff.

      • Not always Nick…if the dam reservoir is already at full supply, the wind gets priority to the grid and the dam has to spill water. That is the case quite a bit when there is freshet or rainy season. So then the wind capacity was totally useless since the same energy would have been delivered by the hydro dam. Even in your scenario with the dam at 3/4 fully supply, and the wind blowing in gusts, then you are ramping the river up and down in flow rates that aren’t really part of the original dam operating spec for water release through the turbines which can affect downstream flows/temps and the river fishery/ecology and/or public safety.

  22. So, Australia’s aluminium smelters will close and you guys down under will have to import the metal from, wait for it, China. The incompetence of your rulers is criminal and there was a time when the result would have been considered as constituting treason, effectively making your country critically dependent on the political whims of a foreign dictatorship. The penalty used to be being shot. Perhaps that tradition needs reviving.

    • Ed
      You remarked, “The incompetence of your rulers is criminal …” You can add some academics to that.

      I think that one of the characteristics of a progressive is that they believe the world works as they think it should — and if it doesn’t, they know how to make it happen. It is totally beyond their ken that reality might be different from how they see the world. That explains their behavior such as espousing what appear to be lies, or sophistry to defend logically unsupportable claims.

  23. The only way to rebuild an economy around renewables is the China based model. Start with having no emissions targets,then make sure no subsidies or assistance for renewables, then generate all your electricity from either fossil fuels or nuclear, then supply the idiots in other countries with the equipment and parts for all their useless renewable energy. That’s the only economic way a renewables led recovery can make commercial sense.

  24. The Chinese government must be laughing at Australia. We are ‘de-carboning’ our economy while they do the opposite.

    They will even sell us the cheap solar panels that will help convince us that what we are doing is in our own interests.

    We are the ones with the coal, but they are the ones with the brains.

  25. the article is just part of the Australian media’s seamless pivot from covid back to full-on CO2, now that the lockdown is slowly ending.

    following is to be broadcast 8.30pm Monday, 18 May, on taxpayer-funded ABC’s so-called flagship current affairs program, Four Corners.

    18 May: ABC: Australia’s most senior former public servants and scientists reveal their anger about climate policy failure
    Four Corners / By Michael Brissenden
    Now, after the devastating “black summer” fire season, the former heads of the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of the Treasury, along with former chief scientists, have decided they can no longer stay silent…

    Martin Parkinson, who served as secretary of the Department of Climate Change between 2007 and 2011, described politicians as “incapable of grappling with this”.
    “I don’t know how many reports have been put in front of them,” he said.
    “No politician … has any grounds for saying, ‘Oh well, we didn’t see it coming’.”

    Former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett, who served between 2008 and 2011, labelled the failures of climate policy akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion.

    “Year after year goes by without any strong action and no apparent commitment and determination on the part of governments … it’s beyond disheartening; it’s depressing,” she said.
    “I do feel that my time was a failure for the greatest thing that could have come out of that time and did not — which was serious action on climate change.”

    Ken Henry, the former Treasury secretary for a decade from 2001, believes politics has overrun the scientific reality of climate change.
    It has left him deeply disillusioned.
    “I think [it is] more to do with personal ambition and some of the individuals involved taking the opportunity of an ideological chasm to advance their own personal interests,” he said.
    “We have failed, no doubt about that. We’ve all failed, I think. I look back on it now and I still feel gutted.
    “All these years later … I feel angry about what Australia has lost.”…

    Former chief scientist from 2011-2016, Ian Chubb, said the Australian Government needs to do more and should commit to zero net emissions by 2050, as many other developed countries have done…
    Professor Chubb laments the lack of progress made on carbon pricing…
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-18/four-corners-climate-change-public-servants-reveal-anger/12235180

    30sec trailer only at the moment. full video will be up after the program ends:

    VIDEO: ABC TV: Four Corners: Climate Wars: How brutal politics derailed climate policy in Australia
    https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/climate-wars/12247494

    • These people are so ignorant.

      The only manmade damage being done to Australia is due to renewable energy. Damage both to ecologically and economically.

      If this infrastructure is so successful then why don’t they go it alone?

      End all renewable energy subsidies now!

  26. “Virgin” iron and steel are still produced (except in Green-funded laboratories) with coke.

    Bit of a search has one lab claiming they can “see” 24/7 production of virgin iron with solar – all that they need are 2,000 to 3,000 mirrors on 70,000 square meters – but they do admit that “conventional” power would be needed as a “supplement.”

    Alloy production, maybe. At an enormously greater cost.

  27. some names from the ABC’s “Four Corners” program:

    18 May: ABC: Australia’s most senior former public servants and scientists reveal their anger about climate policy failure
    Four Corners / By Michael Brissenden
    Now, after the devastating “black summer” fire season, the former heads of the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of the Treasury, along with former chief scientists, have decided they can no longer stay silent…

    Martin Parkinson, who served as secretary of the Department of Climate Change between 2007 and 2011, described politicians as “incapable of grappling with this”.
    “I don’t know how many reports have been put in front of them,” he said.
    “No politician … has any grounds for saying, ‘Oh well, we didn’t see it coming’.”
    Former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett, who served between 2008 and 2011, labelled the failures of climate policy akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion.

    “Year after year goes by without any strong action and no apparent commitment and determination on the part of governments … it’s beyond disheartening; it’s depressing,” she said.
    “I do feel that my time was a failure for the greatest thing that could have come out of that time and did not — which was serious action on climate change.”

    Ken Henry, the former Treasury secretary for a decade from 2001, believes politics has overrun the scientific reality of climate change.
    It has left him deeply disillusioned.
    “I think [it is] more to do with personal ambition and some of the individuals involved taking the opportunity of an ideological chasm to advance their own personal interests,” he said.
    “We have failed, no doubt about that. We’ve all failed, I think. I look back on it now and I still feel gutted.
    “All these years later … I feel angry about what Australia has lost.”…

    Former chief scientist from 2011-2016, Ian Chubb, said the Australian Government needs to do more and should commit to zero net emissions by 2050, as many other developed countries have done…
    Professor Chubb laments the lack of progress made on carbon pricing…
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-18/four-corners-climate-change-public-servants-reveal-anger/12235180

  28. another example of ABC back on the climate bandwagon:

    AUDIO: 10m48s: ABC Saturday Extra: Solving solar
    Presenter: Geraldine Doogue
    Australia’s uptake of renewable energy sources – rooftop solar, mostly – is already world leading.
    We could actually be using 75% renewables within 5 years.
    But only if we make some quick, and possibly expensive, changes to how our electricity system operates.
    Guest: Audrey Zibelman, CEO and managing director of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AMEO)
    https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/new-energy-mix/12247790

    23 Jan 2017: Renew Economy Australia: AEMO hires New York energy reformer as new CEO
    by Jonathan Gifford
    The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has hired Audrey Zibelman, one of the leading players in New York’s ground-breaking “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV), as its new chief executive.
    The appointment of Zibelman (pictured right) follows the death last year of her predecessor Matt Zema, and could signal the biggest ever shift in culture and technology of the AEMO, which is responsible for the operation of Australia’s main grids, but which has been criticised in some quarters for its slow response to renewable energy and other new technologies.

    The Reform the Energy Vision plan, launched by New York in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, in which thousands of New York State residents were left without power for weeks, is considered to be the most ground-breaking and progressive in the world…
    https://reneweconomy.com.au/aemo-hires-new-york-energy-reformer-as-new-ceo-52577/

  29. “Leading economist and renewable energy expert Ross Garnaut says…”

    Ignore anything that this man utters as it is utter nonsense in regards to climate change. All his comments on the economy have been largely wrong. Bear in mind he made millions from mining, mainly gold and coal IIRC, in PNG, so he will not be affected by any economic policy relating to climate change.

    • I think only Ross Garnaut would have called himself a “Leading economist”. He had his fleeting moments of fame thanks to PM Kevin Rudd and he has been trying to live off the limelight ever since.

  30. We have an 87 mw solar farm near us. All of it’s power goes to Sydney. During the drought we had mostly sunny days, no power problems. The rain has been more reliable since Jan and on those long rainy days have brought blackouts to our area. The mines are not too far away as well as the Liddell Coal Fired Power Station a few hundred kilometers away. In the event of grid instability the power to the the mines and surrounding areas are shut down. It’s likely the mines have generators, but appart for the odd rural property most others do not.

    These rural properties, such as ours rely on electricity to power the pumps to utilise our tank water. When we have a blackout, we cannot flush the toilet, wash our hands, fill a glass with water, make a cup of tea or coffee, take a shower, run a bath, wash the clothes or dishes either.

    When we signed up for our electricity supply last year we were offered a deal for a certain amount of credit in the event that there should be a blackout. We declined, we figured that would give them an excuse to cut off our supply whenever they needed to. When our power is cut off our water is effectively cut off too.

    We have had four blackouts this year.

  31. Australia doesnt make stuff, its just a quarry, a natural gas pump and a farm. Covid may wake some up that a return to pre-globalisation self sufficiency may be desirable, but it seems unlikely. The masses are placid and compliant so the continued sale of the country to China will resume as soon as this all blows over.

    Could have been a great country. Shame.

  32. The real problem is that “green energy” is diffuse not intense so is useless for energy intensive industries.

  33. “Heavy Industry Not Seeing the Advantages of Low Cost Renewable Energy Opportunities”.
    Funny, neither can I.
    Besides Low Cost Renewable Energy is an oxymoron. Like Military Intelligence, or an honest politician.

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