The Looming Failure of Wind Energy

Guest post by Mike O’Ceirin


This is not about “Climate Change.” It addresses the issue of whether wind as implemented is an effective replacement for fossil driven power stations. This is about Australia where we are according to the mainstream media in a transition to renewable energy even though after many years, we are far from it. We are closing coal-fired power stations, but the expansion of renewable energy is slow. We are approaching a crisis point. The reality of the Australian situation can be applied worldwide, and this report draws on data and nothing else. This 

There are many offhand comments that we should just replace fossil as a source of electricity with renewables. What is the detail and how successful has it been? That is exceedingly difficult information to come by. This so-called transition started in 2000 with the implementation of the Renewable Energy Target. 

For years, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has published data on the amount of energy dispatched to the eastern grid by all generators registered with them. Using this data, a relational database was created for analysis. 

Wind at the end of 2019 was 8.3% of the dispatched energy to the eastern grid. The infrastructure to achieve this is extremely large. There are 55 active wind power stations over a huge area. The plate capacity is 6973 MW and their capacity factor is 29%. On today’s prices that is a cost of $15.7 billion. The dispatched energy from wind was 16.9 TW hours in 2019. This exceeds the second-biggest coal-fired power station on the grid, Bayswater. After 20 years the biggest source of renewable energy can on average replace one large coal-fired power station. There are 16 coal-fired power stations and their lifespan is twice that of wind. 

The supporters of wind energy ignore the actual performance. Plate Capacity is less important than energy dispatched. Critically the importance of variability is not understood. Faith that the large pumped storage facility of Snowy Mountains 2.0 will stabilise renewable energy dispatch is a delusion. 

Our current wind infrastructure plus that large pumped storage theoretically could replace only one large coal-fired power station. To do that it has to be stable. That comes at a cost the current estimate is $5 million but more importantly the other cost is a diminishing of the available energy from wind. The data when modelled for 2019 shows that the amount of energy available drops by 3 TW hours to 14 TW hours. To put it another way stability with pumped storage means 17% less electricity. 

Wind is a failure; every 2 GW of fossil generation is only with replacement by rebuilding the entire wind infrastructure plus a pumped storage facility of the size of snowy Mountains 2.0 again. It will not happen. Wind is growing very slowly and that will continue at that place. Over the last nine years wind has grown by 5.5%, and only 1.3% in 2019. 

Bayswater Versus Wind 

If wind energy generation is to replace coal, we must compare them. Bayswater is the second largest coal-fired power station on Australia’s eastern grid it has a plate capacity of 2.6 GW. A comparison can be made with the data produced by the AEMO.  

Wind dispatched about the same amount of energy as one large coal-fired power station in 2019. For the comparison I choose Bayswater Black coal station in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. That single station dispatched 16 TW hours during 2019. The 55 wind stations connected to the eastern grid spread over the entire east coast of Australia dispatched 17 TW hours. Advocates of renewables propose that that is the answer to replacing coal. Wind supplied 8.3% and fossil fuels 77.5% of electricity on the eastern grid. Can we then simply set about duplicating our current wind infrastructure ninefold and coal is gone?  

First, we must consider how coal which is a controlled generator compares with wind that certainly is not. 

The chart above shows the whole month of July 2019 in five-minute steps. The published data by the AEMO has that resolution but to show this in print is difficult. This chart stands for 9000 rows of data and is representative of all the other months. 

The dispatched electricity from a coal-fired power station depends on the load and the number of turbines running. The low output in the beginning of the month for instance was as result of only three turbines running. The chart shows coal does vary, in this case from 112 MWh to 220 MWh. The variation is because of demand. 

By government mandate the energy delivered by wind must be accepted and it is not driven by demand but by the amount of wind occurring at any one time. The chart shows that variation, it is from 12 MWh to 385 MWh. Since it is not controlled how can it be accommodated? In the electricity industry that the question is, how dispatchable is it? For a generator to be useful when run it must reliably produce a known amount of energy when needed. Would be it useful for instance to have a car which is only capable of more than 20 km an hour some days? If renewables are going to become practical as the sole source of electricity it must be able to satisfy the demand when required. The only way to achieve that is storage of the energy produced so that it is dispatchable. For this to happen there is a significant financial and efficiency cost. 

Wind Energy Storage 

The proposed pumped storage facility called Snowy Mountains 2.0 is the expected answer. It is designed to produce 2 GW for seven days. This means 336 GW hours to stabilise wind. The current installation of wind has a plate capacity of 7 GW. Can these two together supply electricity so that coal could be no longer needed? 

A standard dispatch needs to be calculated and wind would supply that as the first order of business. Measuring the average power output of wind over the whole year gives a result of 1953 MW. Our data is in five-minute steps so that output will deliver 163 MWh for each five minutes. That will be achieved if there is no loss in the storage. As explained below those losses will bring the standard load down to 134 MWh for each five minutes. 

The flowchart shows the process needed. If more is being generated than the standard load, then the load is dispatched, and the remainder used to charge the storage. Unless of course the storage is fully charged. If less than the standard load is being generated, then sufficient from storage is added and the standard load dispatched. 

Charging means in a pumped storage system that water will be pumped to the upper dam. Discharging means water will be released from the upper dam to run turbines that generate the required electricity. This means a loss of 30% and must be included in the calculations. 

Another of loss will occur if the maximum capacity has been reached. Any excess electricity generated at this point will be lost. These factors mean it is not possible to maintain electricity dispatched under the current system. Trial and error shows that in the case of 2019 hypothetically 83% of the average can be achieved. Stabilising using pumped storage means 17% less energy will be dispatched! That is 134 megawatt hours every five minutes which is 83% of 163 megawatt hours. 

It is not possible to show these things in their entirety in a chart, so it is calculated on the five-minute steps for 2019. The following chart shows part of that, July in five-minute steps. 

So here graphically is the process. The green shows when there is excess energy that can be used to charge storage and the red shows when energy must be drawn back from the storage. The black line represents a constant dispatch to the grid. Of course, if this infrastructure were built wind would then be under control and the dispatch would vary according to the demand. 

Then the question is can this be applied to an entire year? It can be modelled, and the following chart shows the result of modelling the storage in the above example for 2019. Snowy Mountains 2.0 has a maximum capacity of 336 GW hours. As a starting point it is assumed that at the beginning of the year there is 225 GW hours available as carryover from the previous year. The modelling has been done in 30-minute steps because of the physical limitations on displaying the resultant chart. The amount of electricity dispatched in half-hour increments is 0.802 GW hours which is of course six times the above figure for five minutes. 

So, step through the operation for each half-hour for the entire year. That is follow the flowchart above. This produces data that can be put into a chart so that it can be seen visually what will be happening. 

At the end of January 112 GW hours is available. From there charges increase until the middle of February. The charge is maintained more or less until early March. Here is an example of what might happen from there until late March it is all discharge. On 24 March the status of the storage is 19 GW hours. That is a discharge of 200 GW hours in 17 days! There is a rise in charge from this point until it drops again to 12 GW hours 20 days later. There is doubt in practice dropping to such a low level would be an acceptable risk. In terms of percentage it means that the pumped storage is at 4.8% of the full charge. The expected stable output achieved would be 0.802 GW hours per half-hour. This is critical trying for any increase results in failure. 

From there the wind comes back and there are constant rises until 11 June. At that point the pumped storage is fully charged. Notice the flat tops in the storage line. This represents the storage being fully charged. As shown in the flowchart this is where energy must be dumped because it has nowhere to be stored. It cannot just be dispatched because that would be destabilising the grid in a world where there is no other energy source. 

So what is the end point of this? Hypothetically a large pumped storage in combination with the existing wind infrastructure could produce stable dispatchable power to replace one fossil power station. But there is a cost. According to the model this would produce 14 TW hours for 2019. This is not equivalent to Bayswater, being short by two terawatt hours. Financially the cost will be about $21 billion! $16 billion for the wind infrastructure and 5 billion for pumped storage. 

This effort would produce 8.3% of the dispatched electricity on the eastern grid. Fossil energy is still 77.5%. It does not seem likely that wind will replace it. Page Break 

Wind Energy Infrastructure 

There are a large number of wind power stations, 55 in all. The most northerly being Mount Emerald in Queensland and the most southerly Musselroe in Tasmania. These are 2627 km apart. On the other dimension the furthest west is Cathedral Rocks in South Australia and the furthest east on the same latitude is Gullon Range in New South Wales. They are 1269 km apart. This should suffice to attain stability if what is required is a sufficiently large area. If we estimate the number of wind turbines by dividing the plate capacity by 2.5 MW there are approximately 2789 actual turbines. Actual land area can be found from the work done by David Mackay. The area is nearly 3500 km². 

In 2019 wind dispatched 16.94 TW hours to the grid. Take the plate capacity and multiply it by the number of hours in the year gives the maximum energy possible of 57 TW hours. Dividing that into the actual dispatched terawatt hours results in a figure of 29%. That is known as the capacity factor and is a measure to compare with other forms of energy generation. In the case of renewables by government mandate all energy must be taken by the retailers. From this I assume in the case of wind it is an accurate measure. 

The cost of this large infrastructure is approximately $15.7 billion. A recent power station Silverton near Broken Hill has been taken as a base for this cost its size is 200 MW and was built at a cost of 450 million. It also has 25 km of transmission line which is assumed to be a common requirement. The expected dispatch was 780,000 GW hours per annum but in 2019 only 424,000 MW hours was achieved. Possibly it was not fully operational, but it was fully commissioned by May 2018. 

The dispatched energy from an electricity generator will vary. This also applies to wind. The chart shows this variation for all the wind stations above combined. 

On average wind dispatched 46.4 GW hours per day. The lowest day was 11.53 GW hours and the highest 99.11 GW hours. That’s a range of 88 GW hours.  

Coal Energy Infrastructure 

In the case of wind all stations connected to the eastern grid were included. In the case of coal comparing all stations with wind would create a large mismatch. There are 16 coal-fired power stations which dispatched 140 TW hours of energy in 2019 against 17 TW hours for wind. I will choose our second largest coal-fired power station Bayswater in the Hunter Valley. In 2019 this one station dispatched 16 TW hours and was not running at full capacity. It has four turbines each of 660 MW so a joint plate capacity of 2640 MW. In 2019 the capacity factor for this station was 70%. What this means if it is to be applied overall to black coal power stations is important. A black coal power station is obviously under the control of its operators and this can be seen graphically. 

This chart shows the dispatched energy in gigawatt hours of each turbine on daily rests. There are 237 days of a turbine off-line. If it is assumed that it was not necessary to switch those turbines off, then the capacity factor is 83%. Fully operational Bayswater Power Station can produce 19 TW hours of electricity annually. A 2 GW HELE coal-fired power station has a cost of $4 billion. That figure is based on one built in Germany in 2016 and the proposed station in Queensland at Collinsville, so an estimate to replace Bayswater would be $5 billion. 

How variable is the output? This is more difficult than an estimate for wind because because turbines may deliberately be off-line also it appears there are variations which are according to demand rather than an intrinsic variation. 

Data sources 

All data in this work comes from the official source publicly published on the National Energy Market website. The files published there are zip files which have a 13-month lifetime. This has been accumulated into a relational database on a powerful PC. The sources in their raw form now occupy about 300 GB. When you unzip these files, they are in CSV form. That is, they are text files that have the data values separated by commas. Those CSV files were imported into a relational database. The data used is the reports on electricity generators registered with the eastern grid of Australia. There are about 300 generators registered. For each of those power output at five-minute intervals is recorded. This is a considerable amount of information and not at all easy to make sense of. This is hundreds of gigabytes and from this all the information above was extracted. Being an analyst/programmer with expertise in the SQL query language allows me to do data mining of this for information. For instance, it would not be that hard to determine what a particular generator was outputting at a particular time to the nearest five minutes over the past nine years. 

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Mike Spalding
May 22, 2020 10:18 am

Thanks for the detailed analysis. Wind only makes sense if you are blind to a lot of important factors.

Reply to  Mike Spalding
May 22, 2020 11:32 am

Yes, well thought out and presented.

This means a loss of 30% and must be included in the calculations.

What is the source of the that figure, it seems excessively high.

You can do better than that charging a lead acid battery at home. I’m sure large scale pumps and hydro generators ought to be able to cycle a lot better than 30% loss.

Reply to  Greg
May 22, 2020 12:59 pm

Pumps themselves have an efficiency around 80%, then about 85% efficiency in the power turbines, then there is a lot of pipe friction to overcome. 30%would be a good ballpark figure

Eric Stevens
Reply to  fred250
May 22, 2020 4:15 pm

There are also the electrical losses to be taken into account: pump motors, generators, transformers, line losses etc. These can easily add more than 5%.

Reply to  Greg
May 23, 2020 9:00 pm

Most of the loss is friction from the tunnel. From memory I think the tunnel is 27km and the originally the Snowy 2.0 website stated that 32% of power would be lost in the “round trip“ cycle of pumping and discharging. However, that has since disappeared.

Engineers could reduce the loss by widening the tunnel but that is hyper expensive. The 30% is only applicable at max charge/recharge. At lower throughputs, friction reduces.

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  Mike Spalding
May 23, 2020 4:34 am

The essential issue to my mind is the replacement of a reliable, predictable, high energy density source such as gas or coal with implicit high storage capacity and readily controllable output located or able to be located close to the major demand locations, i.e. thereby minimising transmission intrastructure, with one from an extremely low energy density, unreliable and intermittent source with zero implicit storage capacity and located remote from major demand locations.

Using wind linked to say pumped hydro storage makes some sense subject to doing the maths vis a vis alternatives but that is quite different from wind as it has been solled out so far.

On first principles, why the heck would you do that? You would need a fundamentally compelling reason to do so implying compelling and overwhelmingly accepted supporting evidence. You would instintively be suspicious of the spiel of vested interests for the latter proposiation, wouldn’t you?

Its all a bit like assuming the Chinese Communist Party is only acting in the broaders interests of the international community, has set aside its historical paranoia about capitalism and democracy, is transparent and apololgises profusely for the COVID 19 outbreak…….

Dennis G Sandberg
May 22, 2020 10:27 am

Australia now joins Germany in demonstrating that wind “energy” is worth less than nothing junk. One wonders if a $trillion needs to be spent on “The Cause” before the USA joins this elite club.

Paul S.
May 22, 2020 10:52 am

This is what you get when politicians and Activists are in charge instead of engineers. Don’t they say we should “follow the science”?

Reply to  Paul S.
May 22, 2020 1:22 pm

“follow the science”?

They should start following the engineering instead.

Ron Long
Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
May 22, 2020 1:43 pm

How many engineers does it take to change a lightbulb? Three: one to hold the lightbulb and two to turn him around and around.

Richard of NZ
Reply to  Ron Long
May 22, 2020 2:43 pm

Engineers overcame that problem by inventing the bayonet fitting. Only a minor turn of a few degrees required.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Richard of NZ
May 23, 2020 2:04 am

That needs energy to push against the springs. A screw fitting does not need that!

Reply to  Richard of NZ
May 23, 2020 6:08 pm

You don’t do humor do you Richard ?

Reply to  Ron Long
May 23, 2020 12:02 am

I thought that quip originally referred to lawyers.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Paul S.
May 22, 2020 2:28 pm

Don’t they say we should “follow the science”?

That is definitely used as an argument is and more these days, especially when people arguing don’t know the facts and aren’t thinking for themselves.

I often get this in arguments about CAGW, renewable energy, radiation, and I’m sure about COVID-19 from now on. The trouble is that those arguing against me often know so little about the subject beyond what the MSM feed them that it’s just impossible to have a proper discussion. Every point I make is just rejected because they haven’t heard it on the MSM.

They don’t typically have the inclination, and often not even the ability, to think rationally for themselves and do their own research, and yet they keep saying “the science” like a mantra. It’s depressing, and I’ve given up.

Now politicians (now termed ‘lawmakers’ by the MSM) are constantly using the phrase. At least it’s an obvious indicator, at least to me, that the given argument has no basis in facts nor logic.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
May 23, 2020 8:31 am

The problem is the modern education systems. Back in the day higher education made it their mission to teach people how to learn, rather than tell them what to learn. If a person knows how to learn, no discipline is off limits to them. This is a very dangerous concept to the academic expert monopolies and gate keepers for any given discipline.

The K-12 teachers are often the ones discouraging people to think for themselves. The whole system is set up to discourage and weed out maverick thinkers.

As a community the K-12 teachers are among the most fanatical believers in CAGW.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
May 23, 2020 5:28 pm

The word for that is “scientism”.

Jon-Anders Grannes
Reply to  Paul S.
May 30, 2020 10:32 pm

They mean follow our politicized ‘science’, policy based ‘science’?

Russ Wood
Reply to  Paul S.
June 2, 2020 4:21 am

Politicians (and accountants) built two very large coal-fired power stations in South Africa. Well, I say built, but after about 12 years, the stations are NEARLY complete. The engineers who had designed and built the old SA power stations (up to 1980s) had been replaced, and, of course, the new guys knew better! SA has mostly lousy steam coal (the better stuff gets exported) and the OLD designers allowed for the low quality. So, these old stations are still keeping the grid going, with minimal maintenance (sort of Band-Aids), while the brand-new shiny stations are still not fully working. And this bunch of incompetents want to shut down all of the old (working) plants and replace them with “bird-chopping eco-crucifixes” (thanks, Dellers).

May 22, 2020 10:53 am

Commercial grid scale wind and solar should be paid intermittently, at spot market rates. That is all the asynchronous junk power is worth to a stable grid that has to be fed firm base load electricity to ensure this junk power will even work. And then the coal base load has to kneecap itself to accommodate this ill thought out boondoggle. At best, there should only be 5%-10% penetration of intermittent wind/solar to a grid, unless it can convert itself into dispatchable base load without any subsidy. And we all know that won’t be economical, practical or efficient, so time to think next gen nuclear as the permanent solution. Or what is wrong with clean coal anyway? Pollution is no longer the problem it once was with coal, and the whole CO2 argument is a red herring.

Reply to  Earthling2
May 23, 2020 5:44 am

Exactly what I would have written, Earthling2.
The ‘renewables’ should be required to stand on their merits in a competitive market; I suspect that would finish investment in wind and solar.
I understand that the Aussie market ‘favours’ the intermittents on the grid, making fossil fuel power appear more expensive.
PS: Great work, Mike O.

James F. Evans
May 22, 2020 10:54 am

No, wind energy is not a replacement for coal & hydrocarbon energy.

The intermittent nature of wind and having to blanket the land with windmills prevent it.

Reply to  James F. Evans
May 22, 2020 11:09 am

And wind energy dooesn’ protect climate, it gets dryer and warmer in lee of windmills,
and they destroy th environment at large scale.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
May 22, 2020 11:45 am

Never thought of that. I guess the turbines must be disrupting air flow and converting translational kinetic energy into thermal. In warming the air the RH would drop.

Reply to  Greg
May 22, 2020 12:35 pm

Wind turbines can modify the local climate by warming the atmosphere, according to a study that revealed an increase in temperature of 0.72 degrees over a region of Texas where four large wind farms have been built.

While converting the kinetic energy of wind into electricity, wind turbines modify exchanges between the ground and atmosphere, and affect the transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the air, the authors of the study said.

If I remember well, it was subject here at WUWT

Reply to  Krishna Gans
May 22, 2020 2:35 pm

“by The Conversation” must be unbiased and truthful then !

That whole article reads like a load speculative bunk.

“We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms as its spatial pattern and magnitude couples very well with the geographic distribution of wind turbines.”

I don’t know what the official measurement of “couple with” is – sounds like he’s trying to avoid claiming a correlation – anyway I doubt you get the spacial resolution to detect a wind farm from satellite data. Neither do I believe that they can measure ground temp as distinct from boundary layer air temp, for their mixing argument.

“trend of up to 0.72 degree per decade”, so actually is was less and why would a wind farm produce a “trend”.

Typical sloppy pseudo-science of “Nature Climate Change ” journal.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
May 22, 2020 3:43 pm

One thing seems to be clear, wind mills reduce the energy of the blowing winds, beside the effect of mixing

Paul C
Reply to  Greg
May 23, 2020 2:26 am

It’s even worse than we thought! Windmills don’t just disrupt the environment, they adversly affect each other The wake of windmills is not good for windmills.

F. Ross
Reply to  Krishna Gans
May 22, 2020 12:26 pm

Not to mention killing birds, bats, and insects.

Reply to  F. Ross
May 22, 2020 2:39 pm

That’s why I wrote destruction of environment, all included, trees, forests, landscape …..

Reply to  F. Ross
May 23, 2020 1:00 pm

Why did engineers not have to prove these industrial wind turbines were safe for residents forced to live within these power stations?
Take a look at this explicit warning out of Australia regarding harm from acoustic emissions trespassing onto neighbouring properties.

May 22, 2020 10:58 am

The supporters of replacing fossil fueled energy with wind and solar simply do not understand the problem. Placard carrying activists have no clue how to achieve what they are asking and are willing to sacrifice our energy and lifestyles to achieve their goal. Even though it seems the activists are winning in reality they are given into just enough to shut them up but unfortunately it will never be enough for them. So far, when pushed to the limit, reality is winning. It won’t stop them from wasting taxpayer money until the famous ‘tipping point’ of base load electricity is reached.

Gerry O'Connor
Reply to  markl
May 22, 2020 2:16 pm

A number of these supporters don’t care about any problem…..that’s soneone else’s problem. They know what they want and if they scream loud enough someone nice will buy it for them.

David Stone
Reply to  Gerry O'Connor
May 22, 2020 11:01 pm

Agree but why have them responsible for 5-10% of demand? Electricity is needed every second but wind and solar supply disappears without warning for an unknown period of time. It can’t do its job, can’t exist without subsidies, and destroys the environment it is supposed to save. Their intermittency means they are completely useless during their “working life” and no one knows what to do with them at the end of their….existence? All they can guarantee is instability. They disappear when needed most and produce an abundance when not needed – no grid can cope with them.

Reply to  David Stone
May 23, 2020 6:51 am

Why have them responsible for 5 to 10% of demand? Because it’s not about making electricity, it’s about GREED, pure and simple. People in the dark? Who cares????? The greedy, lying, misery peddlers still make a pile of cash. It’s all about “them” and the rest of us, the environment, etc can all just go die. That’s how greed works. Think gold rush, cattle barons, plantations. It’s the same thing.

Reply to  markl
May 22, 2020 2:34 pm

I think they do understand the problem, or at least the people who gave them the placards and told them to show up understand the problem. “Western Civ has got to go”

They hate us and they mean to destroy us. They say that out loud.

May 22, 2020 11:06 am

Save a bird, a bat, etc. Whack a wind turbine.

Don’t be green, clear the Green, to keep the environment green.

May 22, 2020 11:32 am

So, if all this is manifest, why is a country with a relatively small elector base unable to oust the gasheads who keep this nonsense moving forward?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Curtis D Cushman
May 22, 2020 2:36 pm

We keep trying, but the the main options are a bad lot and a terrible lot. On the sidelines are a couple of outliers, utterly awful lot, and communists.

All of them are also corrupt, although their corruptions are slightly different in each case. *sigh*

As Douglas Adams humorously pointed out:
“So why do you keep voting for them [the lizards]?”
“If we don’t, the wrong lizard might get in!”

Reply to  Curtis D Cushman
May 23, 2020 12:02 am

Curtis D Cushman, Our political system is basically two party. The Liberal Party here in Australia would be more in line with the American Republicans, confusing when having an international discussion but our Liberal Party are conservatives, or they used to be.

The Labor Party was born out of unionism and is obviously a leftist Party. There are other smaller parties, and independents who will vote for or against the incumbent government on matters to be decided on.

One of the smaller parties, The Greens, always align with the Labor Party, and the Labor Party have come to rely on their vote. I personally think that the Labor Party has lost it’s way in that regard, the majority of Australians have not fallen for the green scam and want nothing to do with renewables. The Labor Party don’t seem to get it, at the last election they were celebrating their win the day before voting began!

Our Liberal Party used to be fairly centre aligned or a little right of centre. Since Tony Abbott was ousted as Prime Minister by Malcolm Turnbull (who is pretty much a greenie) the party has moved progressively left. You could say that the Liberal Party has lost it’s conservative values, we now only have politics ‘of the left’. At least that’s how the voters feel.

The Liberal Party too has lost it’s way to the extent that it cannot read it’s own voters, it’s chooses instead to believe the polls. What is it with polls these days, you can’t trust them any more than you can trust ‘consensus scientists’! And on both counts Scott Morrison did and he was wrong, though he did scrape through.

The Greens are never going to win government in their own right, but the thing is they’ve infiltrated our Liberal Party to such an extent they don’t need to! There are a number of senior ministers in the Liberal Party that are so green I don’t know how they ever could have been accepted into the Party. They have absolutely no conservative values whatsoever and couldn’t care less about about what the people want! They claim to be acting for the ‘greater good’ and in the name of the environment. Pure totalitarianism, they are trashing the environment!

So there you have it, we might be disillusioned about the government we voted in but the alternative is so much worse. We would quite literally be voting for socialism/communism.

Unless we can educate the general public, and our politicians for that matter, about the reality of renewable energy then we are screwed.

There is a party called The One Nation Party that has been gaining traction in recent years. Paulsen Hansen founded the party which was once considered far right and a radical. She is pretty much the only politician who is willing to speak the truth, no holds barred. The party has been going for more than twenty years. She even spent time in jail and was ultimately exonerated so strong are her convictions. She pretty much speaks much the same as most of us on this site but has the courage to put it out there. She’s quite an extraordinary woman. She has attracted some decent politicians to her party in recent years. Mark Latham was ironically a top Labor man at one point and Malcolm Roberts regularly speaks out against CAGW and renewables and is likely known to some on this site.

I think it’s likely she’ll get alot of votes the next time around but I fear than if the numbers don’t work out with preferences then it could backfire. Scary thought.

This is a great post, sincerely thank you. How do we bring it to the attention of Scott Morrison?

Mike O'Ceirin
Reply to  Megs
May 23, 2020 12:36 am

Yes megs you are on the money. Something that really puzzles me and probably disturbs as well is that the Greens have done so much damage. They have placed themselves in a position that labor no longer supports the working class. The Greens promote the idea of “saving the planet” and it is used to greatly damage our economy. The price of electricity is through the roof compared to what it was. This is had a huge cost and directly diminishes the welfare of the working classes. With 10 to 12% of the vote labor depends on their support and many owe their seat to supporting the green meme. Wind and solar is about 10% of our electricity supply. I’m really not sure of the mechanism causing electricity prices change because of this. There is not that much of it!

It has affected our manufacturing costs and tipped the balance against many enterprises. That manufacturing has moved and now much that was once made here is supplied from China. The Greens are clearly Marxist as is the Chinese government. I ponder whether that is really a connection.

In Australian universities we have many Confucius centres as well there is more and more favour to socialist agendas from these same universities. Some time ago and attempt was made to establish centres for the study of Western civilisation using a bequest from the Ramsey foundation. This was actively resisted by many of our universities fortunately one or two took it up.

I have been trying to get this (uselessness of renewables) into the mainstream media all before a politician, I’m thinking Craig Kelly. So Megs and others how do we do that.

Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
May 23, 2020 11:27 pm

Mike there are so many of us stuck out here in the wilderness, unable to put forward our views even to our own sitting members! So many of them have themselves fallen for the CAGW scam. So many of them for some reason think that the majority of Australians are supportive of renewable energy right up to and including our Prime Minister. They think they are protecting their voters interests and they don’t seem interested in the truth. Then of course there are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, who have infiltrated the incumbent government and are in reality Greens! But then of course they are the very people reinforcing the green agenda!

People like you Mike can help expose the truth about renewables, people are only ignorant until they have knowledge. As you have already been in communication with the WUWT team it’s likely that Eric could potentially pass this post onto Andrew Bolt from the Sky News team. I know that he is a fan of WUWT and I think that given your post has ‘facts’ about the disaster that is wind power, this would be extremely interesting to him. There is also the fact that Andrew and or his team have regular interviews with Craig Kelly, Malcolm Roberts, Matt Cavanah and Cori Bernardi. And there’s a few others that are coming around to reality too. It would be great to get some facts out there in the MSM but I’d be hoping that Craig Kelly might be able to get your post in front of the PM!

I honestly don’t know if I’m being presumptuous but I couldn’t see that there’d be a problem with the WUWT team putting this post to Andrew Bolt or maybe even Craig Kelly. You may have to reformat it to include the graphs if that’s possible but I would think that there would be many people who could help you sort that. I think the comments are useful, they give the reader the whole story as to what the general population are really thinking!

I hope that there are a few more people out there who could give you some suggestions, or better still have some contacts. Keep us posted Mike.

Reply to  Megs
May 23, 2020 3:47 am

You are right Megs, the few in the Liberal party who have taken the time to read the science are ignored by their compatriots and ridiculed by the left media. My local Liberal member refuses to see me and discuss this subject. The only news outlet that gives the factual side of the science a run is The Australian. They have published articles by the late Bob Carter and Ian Plimer. This has earned them plenty of abuse. Our taxpayer funded TV channel the ABC is hard line leftist and constantly pushes the climate scam.

Reply to  CLIVE
May 23, 2020 4:42 am

Clive, did you know that the ABC is receiving funds from Getup?

May 22, 2020 11:33 am

Since the beginning of wind energy the maximum on the grid is around 18% before the grid becomes unstable. So far, they have been able to build up wind generation without exceeding the 18% as long as a big connector doesn’t go down and make the local grid a lot smaller.

As far as I can tell, if you’re in a remote desert far from the grid, you can engineer a feasible solar photovoltaic system that can compete with the cost of diesel generation. It’s a pretty specific case. Most of the time, anything else would be way cheaper and way more practical.

Pat from Kerbob
May 22, 2020 11:44 am

Excellent analysis.
I have done a simple rule of thumb here in AB Canada, to replace all our coal fired generation 5GW with wind would require 15000/2.5 is 6000 wind turbines, widely spaced meaning more transmission not less, then still need 5GW of gas turbines anyway.

Its all a bad joke on us all

May 22, 2020 11:45 am

What is the secret of getting a comment placed?

I just something innocuous (oops, maybe big words are not allowed) and no-go.


Reply to  Curtis D Cushman
May 22, 2020 12:06 pm

There’s delay in approving posts plus a few stupid “naughty” works, like ki11 and 1iar ( use the letter one to avoid getting held back ).

Annoyingly that also triggers with words containing those letters: eg. ski11, or fami1iar.

I’ve been requesting that gets fixed for years without joy. So just be aware and use h4ckerz type spellings to work around it.

May 22, 2020 11:46 am

Are wind turbines still showing 25+years of service life or have they revised it down to the 12-15 seen in reality?

Stewart Pid
Reply to  Spetzer86
May 22, 2020 12:15 pm

Reality in the renewable energy industry …. surely you are being sarcastic!!

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Stewart Pid
May 22, 2020 2:38 pm

Dont call me Shirley

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Spetzer86
May 22, 2020 12:30 pm

Back in the 80’s, when I worked for Danish wind turbine factory, the aim was that the windmills should work for 20 year, provided the scheduled service intervals were followed.

Man, many years later it turned out in Germany, that 15 years was nearer the actual lifetime.
However, nobody knows with any certainty if the 20 to 25 years for newly build windmills will keep up.
A wind turbine does not necessarily need to be scrapped after 15 years, but just like cars, the service is getting more and more expensive – broken gearboxes, failing electric circuits, wing fatigue, leaks, corrosion, etc.

Charles Ellison
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
May 22, 2020 2:12 pm

Regardless of what the mechanical device is, it is subject to the “bathtub curve”. When the item is put into service there is a time where there is a lot of service. This drops off like the wall on a canyon. Thus going for a certain length of time and then the service starts crawling up the other end of the tub until it reaches the same amount of service required when first new. At that time the service becomes costly or the parts become unavailable. The owner now owns an orphan. Every product with mechanics or half-lives is affected. This includes fences, houses and highways.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Spetzer86
May 22, 2020 6:58 pm

That’s like “20 year batteries”.
They work to spec for 8 years then start to degrade
At year 20 you have no batteries

May 22, 2020 12:03 pm

Numbers, math, equations – why are you disbelievers always citing these things?

Why can’t you just follow your feelings as we believers do?
(/sarc if I really need to)

Robert of Texas
May 22, 2020 12:18 pm

I guess there are a few assumptions in the Wind Turbine energy argument:
1) Wind droughts will be local and not affect a significant number of wind farms at the same time
2) Wind farms are not affected by numerous wildfires
3) Water droughts will not impact the storage facility
4) The water storage facility will never be shut down for any reason
5) Wind droughts are never correlated with water droughts
6) Wind farms are unaffected by large tropical storms over large territories

I have probably left out a few dozen, but you get the point.

Here in Texas, I m just waiting for the day a tornado takes out one or more wind farms…it doesn’t even need to hit the actual turbines, just cross over one of the extended power line routes used to reach the wind farms.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
May 22, 2020 8:58 pm

Hurricane Maria did a pretty good job decimating Puerto Rico wind and solar electricity generation.

Anybody know if they replaced with more solar and wind, or did they learn a lesson?

old planning engineer
May 22, 2020 12:23 pm

Interesting analysis but flawed.

The problem is that dispatched energy must meet demand which in turn is not flat as proposed by the study. Demand varies on both a diurnal and seasonal basis. Also one must take into account roof top solar – especially in Australia where it is becoming a major (and uncontrolled) player.

Also comparing a distributed energy source (wind) with a concentrated energy source (coal) raises the issue of the transmission system. Its also worth noting that load is also distributed, just not near the best wind sites.

While its quite true (in my opinion) that Australia will have a significant energy problem within 10 years due to the replacement of existing coal fired power stations with renewables this analysis does not show the actual issues due to the above methodological flaws.

If you consider that it shows a lesser point, that wind does not work well as a base load power station it’s worth noting that base load power stations in Australia are struggling due to the issue of roof top solar. In South Australia base load has pretty much disappeared with the minimum market demand rapidly reducing and likely to hit zero within several years.

Reply to  old planning engineer
May 22, 2020 3:42 pm

Now use your brain and determine what caused all of your findings.
For example Wind power sells at a low price because no one wants it and the corporations owning the wind farm need to sell it to get their subsidies (THAT YOU PAY in your taxes), then when the wind is not blowing, they buy the electricity they need for ten to even a hundred times as much as the normal price. In turn you pay that extra price in your electric bill. So you pay taxes to have “Green Energy, ” and pay through the nose for the green energy again when it is not making any energy..

Reply to  old planning engineer
May 22, 2020 6:09 pm

There is a flat demand for min 18GW of power, the point of the exercise is to show that it is not feasible to replace medium to large coal-fired power plants with wind and pumped storage under any conceivable regime of demand over 24 hours.

Reply to  old planning engineer
May 23, 2020 8:46 am

I have a peeve about using the term “dispatched” when referring to wind energy. In the US power industry, “dispatched” means when they power system operator needs additional power, he/she calls for an available resource to provide it. That is not what happens with wind, you take what you get at the time without control.

May 22, 2020 12:30 pm

“The Looming Failure of Wind Energy” is like a pratfall in very slow motion. Wind energy has been failing since the turn of the century and due to money, inertia, and reputations involved, it may continue to incrementally fail for the next decade.

Ian Coleman
May 22, 2020 12:34 pm

Here in Alberta, Canada, we have a town called Rimbey, which has a population of 2500. Whenever somebody talks about the green miracle of wind energy, I challenge him to figure out what it would cost to power Rimbey with only wind. You have to count the cost of the land, the cost of the towers, the cost of the installation of the towers, and the cost of the connections to the grid. Also, you’re not allowed to have back- up from coal or natural gas generators, so you have to factor in the costs related to the intermittency of wind. Pretty soon it becomes obvious that it would take about a hundred million dollars to electrify a small town in Alberta.

Whenever you read anywhere that wind power is now competitive in cost to coal or natural gas, the person making the claim is comparing the operating costs and ignoring the capital costs. By that rationale, a Maserati costs the same as a Honda Accord, and a Tesla is cheaper than the Honda.

Wind. Hah. Let’s go back to using sailing ships for ocean transport. That would be pretty green.

Reply to  Ian Coleman
May 22, 2020 2:22 pm

Let’s go back to using sailing ships for ocean transport. That would be pretty green.

Clipper ships made about 250 miles per day. A panamax container ship can make 625 miles per day. link On top of that they are very efficient in terms of ton miles per gallon.

Assuming you could even make sail ships that large, you’d still need two times the number of ships just based on slower speed. If you count the energy it takes to build a big ship, sailing ships are a net loser in terms of energy consumed.

Reply to  commieBob
May 22, 2020 6:14 pm

As a matter of historical interest, windjammers were still at work into the 1950s on niche routes, aided by the Finnish requirement to do two years under sail to quality for promotion to senior ranks in the merchant marine service!

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Ian Coleman
May 22, 2020 7:06 pm

Rimbey is an example of a beautiful little town that is so nice because of oil and gas money.
A comparable sized town in my old socialist home of Saskatchewan (it’s getting better) would look 3rd world.
And yes, the lies in green energy are exponential.
It may actually be cheaper to build one MW of wind than 1MW of coal power
But you need to build almost 4 wind to get one coal MW, widely distribute it and gather it (transmission) and still build 1MW of gas power for when the wind blows nowhere
So construction is ~10x the cost with wind

William Astley
May 22, 2020 1:54 pm

You are only talking about the first electrical grid problems.

The ‘green’ ‘plan’ forces all hydrocarbon sources of power for a country except electrical energy generation to be powered from the electrical grid.

For the UK, powering transportation, processes, heating buildings, and so would require the UK electrical grid to provide three times more power to the UK…

….than it does now, by 2050. Three times more electrical generation.

It is interesting that no one until now has calculated what is ‘really’ required to achieve absolute zero CO2 emissions using wind and sun.

This is a link to Cambridge’s Absolute Zero report which outlines specific impossible problems which there are no solution to …

The ‘green’ ‘plan’ assumed there would be a magical breakthrough in energy storage.

The magical breakthrough has not happened and might not happen.

So, until there is a magical breakthrough in energy storage.

The UK New Green Deal requires three times more natural gas power plants to provide the backup for the three times more wind and sun power which would be installed if the UK tried to get to absolute zero.

And the absolute zero plan notes there is no solution to the airplane problem, or the ship problem, or the cannot produce cement problem, and so on.

Michael Moore is correct…. Green New Deal is a pathetic waste of money that we do not have.

May 22, 2020 2:18 pm

Hi Ian. I was born just around the corner from you. LA

Zig Zag Wanderer
May 22, 2020 2:19 pm

Being an analyst/programmer with expertise in the SQL query language…

Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department. Fully written out, “SQL Query Language” means “Structured Query Language Query Language”.

Tip that into the bin with the likes of ATM Machines and PIN Numbers, please.

Willem Post
May 22, 2020 2:19 pm

Wind is never “dispatched”.
Wind is sporadic, random.
A grid operator cannot call a 200-MW wind system owner and tell him to provide, say 50 MW.
Based on my experience, that is NEVER done.

Wind electricity is catch as catch can.
Strictly supplementary.

Solar is even worse, because it is there around midday, and it goes asleep late afternoon, not to wake up until late morning the next day; early to bed, late to rise.

Anyone who thinks wind and solar are coming to the rescue is seriously deranged.
Massive storage, TWh-size, would be required to cover week-long wind/solar lulls and seasonal variations.

The real rescuers are modern nuclear plants, which last at least 60 years and operate at high, 0.9, capacity factors.

Old planning engineer
Reply to  Willem Post
May 22, 2020 4:27 pm

They are actually referred to as semi-scheduled in that they can be curtailed if required.

Typically in Australia generators are dispatched in an “Order of Merit” depending on a number of things such as offer price with each dispatched generator paid the same as the most expensive dispatched offer. This works fine for solar and wind provided that they form a small proportion of the market as they can offer below zero or at zero in the knowledge that they will be dispatched. However, as they form a larger part of the market there is an increasing risk that they will be paid what they offered. This is especially true with solar plants who have little diversity with each other and an inverse diversity with load; that is the smaller the load the more they produce due to the preponderance of roof top (behind the meter) solar. Many of the smarter ones have signed power purchase agreements at a guaranteed price with customers, effectively transferring this risk onto electricity retailers or large “woke” companies.

Studies I have seen suggest that in a near 100% R.E. grid the most economic mix is about 20-30% annual energy curtailment. No study that I have seen discusses what this would do to the economics of the plants as marginal pricing would suggest that most of the time the price would be bid down to near zero, way below the L.C.O.E. of the plants.

Reply to  Willem Post
May 23, 2020 8:14 am

Agreed. Anyone who is serious about Climate Change must get serious about nuclear energy. It is manifestly the only stable source of energy which might replace carbon-based energy. It is proven to work, for example France.

But most Climate Changers are not serious. They are either hysterics or have a political agenda remote from energy generation. Maybe a third group: people with cultivated ignorance thanks to the control of our groupthink by the media and schools.

Willem post
Reply to  kwinterkorn
May 23, 2020 1:02 pm

Old planning engineer,

Allowing wind and solar to bid in the forward market is sheer folly, as it imperils the economics of the dispatchable plants.

Wind and solar owners should be required to have adequate storage, plus adequate diesel generator capacity, so they can feed a steady power level, MW, into the grid, 24/7/365.

That would solve the variability and intermittency.

Wind and solar would be supplemental.


Such agenda-driven, fake hysterics are not allowed to operate, or have any influence, in China, Russia, etc., a major advantage for future economic development.

Mike O'Ceirin
Reply to  Willem post
May 23, 2020 1:23 pm

There are a number of prominent environmentalists who have realised that wind and solar don’t cut it. James Hansen, Lovelock, Shellenberger and so on. For their concerns they say nuclear is the only answer. I have a really big concern that this whole thing is not about greenhouse emissions at all. Michael Moore’s recent movie but spells it out it is about deep ecology and the reduction of human impact on the planet. That is why perhaps that nuclear there doesn’t rate a mention it is a solution that is not wanted. This is worth reading

My late brother a member of the New Zealand Greens party was one of these. If we were to adopt 100% wind and solar it would destroy Western economies which most likely is their aim. Of course there are the useful idiots who are not aware that is this the aim of the core? Another twist to the story is certainly the Greens in Australia are great supporters of socialism and Marxism.

Renewable energy infrastructure is being supplied by China at very cheap prices. If this thing is successful a profit he realised from our becoming a vassal state. There is much Marxian influence throughout our political system and in our universities. I wonder is at all connected?

willem post
Reply to  Willem Post
May 24, 2020 11:57 am

The first 10 years, during which the VERY LUCRATIVE PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT is in effect, degradation of wind system production is an average of 0.17%/y or 1.7% for 10 years.

However, during years 11 through 17, during which the PTC is not in effect, degradation is 13 – 1.7 = 11.3%, because the owners have milked the subsidies and no longer give a damn.

Some owners sell such projects after 10 years. The new owners are allowed to restart the lucrative subsidies all over again. See URL

If a rich, profitable, entity has $5 million of taxable income in a year, it might pay federal taxes of $1 million.
If that entity (Google, Apple, IBM, Warren Buffett, and other rich people) owns a wind system and collects a PTC of $1 million/y, it pays NO TAXES FOR TEN YEARS.

The tax burden is shifted to ratepayers and taxpayers and added to government debt. Ratepayers and taxpayers have to pay more in taxes, higher electric rates, which results in higher prices of goods and services.

We are “saving the world”, the Wall Street way.

Warren Buffett Quote: “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. “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.”

Reply to  willem post
May 24, 2020 4:31 pm

Willem governments really need to end the subsidies. Billionaires are not making money from the profits of a successful business, they are making money from the government subsidies. We, the taxpayers are ultimately handing over money to the greedy billionaires. Most of the general population don’t want renewables, why would anyone think that we would be happy to see our taxes handed over for something so destructive to the environment?

May 22, 2020 2:22 pm

“To do that it has to be stable. That comes at a cost the current estimate is $5 million”

If you are referring to the expected cost of Snowy 2.0, then you meant to say $5 Billion.

Mike O'Ceirin
Reply to  harry
May 22, 2020 5:07 pm

Thanks a typo that escaped.

Peter Garlick
Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
May 22, 2020 8:40 pm

Actually the expected cost of Snowy 2.0 is now closer to $10 billion. Snowy Hydro has already let an EPC contract for $5.9 billion. To this must be added contingencies, interest during construction, and owners overhead costs. This will put it up to close to $8 billion. Then there is the expected cost of $2 billion for new transmission lines to connect the new capacity to the main load centres of Sydney and Melbourne. So at $5,000/kW this is economic insanity for a low capacity factor plant. Open cycle gas turbines would be much cheaper.

May 22, 2020 3:21 pm

“So, until there is a magical breakthrough in energy storage.”
There has been for the past 75 years, it’s called uranium…..

May 22, 2020 3:53 pm

South Australia has always been the poster child for all things ‘ruinable’ in Australia.
Per OpenNEM website, on Sat May 16 at 1pm, generation in SA consisted of:
Solar 863 MW, wind 70 MW, gas 656 MW with exports to Victoria of 160 MW.
But at 7pm, solar zero, wind 50 MW, gas 1751 MW, imports from Victoria 76 MW.
Thurs May 21 at 1pm, solar 450, wind 613, gas 855, exports 139 MW.
And at 7pm, solar zero, wind 447, gas 1696, imports 42 MW.
So to meet that evening peak demand, SA must have available 2,000 MW of reliable gas for when the wind doesn’t blow.
In total, SA has 3,462 MW nameplate capacity of fossil generators, including 542 MW of diesel generators on standby to meet peak summer demands. Plus it has 2,142 MW nameplate capacity of wind generators. Oh, and thanks to Elon Musk, there is also a $50 million 129 MWhr “big” battery.
Add it all up.
To meet a market demand that perhaps occasionally peaks at 3,000 MW (hot summer evenings), SA has about 1,200 MW of solar, 2,100 MW of wind, and 3,400 MW of fossil generators. What wasted investments in intermittent generators, sponsored by government regulations, paid for by ill-informed consumers.

Old planning engineer
Reply to  Robber
May 22, 2020 4:40 pm

Almost but not quite true. S.A. is integrated into the grid via the Victoria link which can handle about 600 MW. Therefore it doesn’t need 2,000MW of reliable gas. Low capital cost, high running cost diesels have always been part of the mix for the few hours a year when demand is maxed out. Note that they make sufficient money at these times (typically $13,500 AUD per MWh) to be highly profitable. In addition, once the new NSW link comes in there will be sufficient transmission strength to shut down the base load gas plant at Torrens Island and rely on the existing NSW coal plants.

The economics of roof top solar in SA are compelling provided that your load is during the day with typical energy costs being around $380 per MWh charged at the meter. Capacity charges are also high which is why peak lopping, behind the meter, batteries are also gaining in popularity. All of which doesn’t make large grid connected solar a one way bet any longer.

Reply to  Old planning engineer
May 22, 2020 6:48 pm

The frequent need to import power from Victoria and the large amount of gas consumed make a mockery of South Australian claims to self-sufficiency with RE. Victoria now has more installed wind power than SA and recently there was effectively zero wind power from the Victorian wind fleet for more than 24 hours.

When Victoria completes the closure of their coal plants SA will be in trouble when there is no wind across the south of the continent.

May 22, 2020 4:09 pm

This post needs some fixes. There are images referenced but not there.

The $5 million for pumped storage is out by 1000. It should be $5 billion.

By government mandate the energy delivered by wind must be accepted and it is not driven by demand but by the amount of wind occurring at any one time.

This statement is wrong. The wind generators are regularly “curtailed”. either voluntarily because the wholesale price goes negative or because they are instructed to reduce due to grid stability concerns.

For a few years now, the coal generators have demonstrated a willingness to bid in a block of energy at a negative price in the knowledge that they can jack up the price to offset those losses during evening peaks or when wind production is low. There is no longer any notion of merit order bidding. All generators game the bidding system to maximise their income.

The most recent gem from AEMO is that they will be requiring central control over rooftop solar so it can be shut down when the grid is being oversupplied. South Australia is close to lunchtime rooftop generation from solar exceeding the demand.

There is a fundamental error in using the term “renewable energy”. This simply perpetuates a myth that such can be taken from ambient energy sources with current technology. It cannot. The energy required to do so is more than the energy that can be recovered. I thought Michael Moore had finally convinced non-technical people that was so.

Mike O'Ceirin
Reply to  RickWill
May 22, 2020 5:29 pm

Thanks for your comment, yes images have been removed which were referred to in the original document and the million was a typo. I am working on a blog of mine to be able to displayed in entirety but I think this is a very worthwhile start. There are many other things I can analyse with the data I have.

Am interested in your comment about government mandate. I assume you understand the Australian system possibly better than I do. As I understand it a “renewable energy” generator is issued with a renewable energy certificate for every gigawatt hour at a guaranteed price. The retailers must buy them according to the rules. To make sense of wind’s capacity factor this was assumed. The figure I came up with was 29% for wind in 2019.

As an aside I have been examining outages that is where wind and solar goes below 2%. There is one in 2018 which lasted for 16 hours. It was ignored and raised no great alarm. I think that if wind and solar was abandoned tomorrow here in Australia it would not have much impact in terms of electricity supply.

Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
May 22, 2020 8:19 pm

Bidding is a relatively complex process for generators. There are a lot of factors that come into play. When there was little wind generation the wind generators had standing bids close to the negative floor price. The loss of Hazelwood changed that because there was less competition among the coal generators. They realised that they could bid in a block of energy at large negative prices and force the wind generators to shut down on negative prices. (There are 10 bidding blocks each day) You will see that when the price goes negative some wind generators just drop down.

Negative pricing has been hard on the grid solar in Queensland. You will see that as soon as prices go negative in QLD they start backing off. It mostly happens in spring now. If they were not tracking arrays they would not make much money. But they do OK between 8am and 11am and from 2pm to 5pm. The rooftop really only gives near rating for about 3 hours. Tracking arrays for about 9 hours.

SA wind generators have also been forced to curtail for stability reasons. They were limited to 1200MW for a couple of years. I think it is a bit higher now and will go up even more when the first of the synchronous generators come on line – reportedly still mid 2020.

The large scale energy certificates (LGCs) are created by intermittent generators at 1 per MWh. They are purchased by the retailers as a proportion of electricity sold. Current price is AUD32.30/MWh. When the wind generators had their large negative standing bids, LGC price was AUD90/MWh. So they could send out at wholesale price at minus AUD90/MWh before they had to pay to send out. The forward price in 2021 is under AUD20/MWh and it will continue to fall.

If wind generators were unconstrained, the capacity factor would be a little higher 30%. The more intermittent that connect, the lower the capacity factor.

All the forecasts for intermittent generation in Australia did not consider any time based analysis apart from my offering to the Finkel enquiry:
All the calculations that backed the Finkel enquiry were based on unconstrained capacity factors by applying the diversity fairy. The diversity fairy is assumed to even out wind and solar generation across the NEM because of its wide geographical spread. The sun was assumed to be producing for 11 hours per day in summer and 8 hours in winter.

It is now being realised by AEMO that the diversity fairy does not exist. The entire country can be covered in cloud at the same time. Or a large high can centre over the continent and persist for days without any wind almost everywhere.

Get into granular detail just muddies the water. There are a couple of applications where intermittent generators have economic merit at the present state of technology. One is in grids with 100% hydro but are perched water limited; like Norway. The intermittent generators can conserver perched water and the hydro can go up and down almost at will without incurring cost. Then there is displacing high cost fuels like diesel; usually with remote generators.

Apart from these rare application, there is no way existing ambient energy intermittent generators can be considered “renewable”.

If you could actually get batteries installed for AUD150/kWh, instead of AUD1000/kWh then household solar/battery would be an economic proposition in Australia – due to the high cost of grid power in the country.

May 22, 2020 4:23 pm

Thanks for the Very clear analysis. Wind Power (and solar power) can only be justified by the exhalations of politicians. Once you subject the actual numbers to clear analysis, the whole thing turns into a fraud of rent seeking. With peoples wallets drained by coronavirus, they will lose interest in these costly and useless schemes dangerous to the welfare of birds, bats and insects.

May 22, 2020 5:33 pm

Thank you Mike O’Ceirin for this brilliant cool headed energy analysis. This is kind of work is very useful. As for “The supporters of wind energy ignore the actual performance”, I would like to add that the need for climate catastrophe to sell renewables is itself the proof that renewables, as an energy infrastructure, does not have the merit needed to sell itself. I will send your analysis to Rafe Champion although he probably has it. Again thank you. Good to see rational cool headed analysis on this emotional hot headed issue.

Ronald Bruce
May 22, 2020 7:47 pm

Summerising: 16 B$ for all our wind power plus 5B$ for Snowy 2.0 all using about 5000 square km of land with a life expectancy of 20 years, just to replace 1 (one) 2GW coal fired power station at about 5B$ with a life expectancy of 50 years.
We would need to build about 10 time our current wind power twice -because of the life expectancy- and 10 more Snowy 2.0 backups so another 210B$ and another 50000 squere Km of land use.
2 thoughts these people are absolutely crazy and it’s never going to happen, but the crazys are still going to push for it, they never let reality get in the way of their feelings.

Reply to  Ronald Bruce
May 23, 2020 2:22 am

The wind plus Snowy 2 does not replace the 2GW coal station. It still requires 2GW of gas or other coal plant.

The dispatch able output of wind is zero. Combined with pumped storage, the dispatch able output is still zero. There are periods when wind goes missing for two weeks at a time. The pumped storage does not offer the necessary energy capacity to cater for that.

May 22, 2020 10:40 pm

Yeah, yeah. Fancy analysis. But there are people getting rich from plugging wind power, and that’s what really matters, isn’t it?

Howard Dewhirst
May 23, 2020 1:05 am

I was unable to see most of the graphs, is that my end or can they be re-posted please?

Mike O'Ceirin
Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
May 23, 2020 4:12 am

Agreed I went a bit overboard with them but I thought they were necessary. Hope that helps.

Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
May 23, 2020 3:59 pm

Thank you for bringing that up Howard, thought I was going nutz…
Wish the WUWT page was correct though.

May 23, 2020 2:14 am

Pierre Gosselin has just posted an article from the German press about a change in attitude in Mexico to wind and solar energy
A snippet from the article :
-“Apparently President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had traveled to Oaxaca and saw how the local hills were blighted by wind turbines, commenting: “These windmills are spoiling the landscape” and “produce very little energy.”
Wind energy is notorious for its inefficiency, unreliable supply, high costs, blight to the environment and health hazards. Moreover, the business has been taken over by crony capitalists out to make a killing on the massively subsidized projects. In fact, as Michael Moore’s latest film shows, green energies aren’t really green at all.”-
It seems that Moore’s film might be having greater and wider effect than initially expected.

May 23, 2020 3:49 am

You are right Megs, the few in the Liberal party who have taken the time to read the science are ignored by their compatriots and ridiculed by the left media. My local Liberal member refuses to see me and discuss this subject. The only news outlet that gives the factual side of the science a run is The Australian. They have published articles by the late Bob Carter and Ian Plimer. This has earned them plenty of abuse. Our taxpayer funded TV channel the ABC is hard line leftist and constantly pushes the climate scam.

May 23, 2020 5:31 am

I’m waiting for a group of Auduban Militants to arise.

May 23, 2020 5:37 am

Very interesting to note that none of our usual ‘pro renewable’ trolls choose to comment on this post.

Stay sane,


Reply to  Willem69
May 23, 2020 6:15 am

If wind was so good, then I would have a little whirlygig to charge my phone.

May 23, 2020 8:54 am

This is painful. Why would they inflict it on the population?

Phil Salmon
May 23, 2020 3:19 pm

An ode to wind power

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: a rusting column, overgrown
Stands on a hillside. With it, close at hand
Half sunk, a long and curving shaft lies prone
Though crumpled and corroded by the rain
Its sculptor’s purpose still is plain to see
A giant windmill, spinning to entrain
From tortured gearing, electricity
And on the pedestal these words appear
“Installed by Andrew Cuomo, King of kings
Look on my works, deniers, and despair”
Nothing beside remains, round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, the meadows fair
And forests breathing life stretch far away

May 23, 2020 6:44 pm

The trouble with wind power now and into the future is to many moving parts prone to wear out . A 300 Mega watt alternator in a coal plant has effectively 1 moving part under heavy load (the turbine/alternator set) . Whereas wind turbines to generate 300 mega watt at say plate output each of 2.5 megawatt (very rare) I”ll be generous 30% of plate = .75 mega watt . So 300/.75 =400 at vey least wind turbines to replace 1 300 mega watt (very common) coal fired steam turbine . This amounts to 1200 fibreglass blades 60 meters long )+, 1200 high strength blade feathering sytems , 800 very large blade main bearings under enormous loads , 2400 very large gearbox gears under high loads , 400 generators with main bearings etc etc untold electrical sw bds, electronics, transformers , cabling etc etc . 400 enormous concrete pads. Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of plastic. So 1 Million tonnes of concrete would be required to build these 400 turbines and 360,000 tonnes of steel .
1 million tonnes of concrete requires 200,000 tonnes of portland cement which in production would have produced roughly 200,000 tonnes of CO2 for the construction of 400 turbines .
On average for 2018, 1.85 tonnes of CO2 were emitted for every tonne of steel produced so for 360,000 tonnes of steel 666,000 tonnes of CO2 were emitted for the construction of 400 turbines .

May 23, 2020 9:05 pm

Another issue is that Snowy 2.0 will be privately owned and has to make a profit. This means it must charge every day from the grid when costs are low and discharge at peak periods when costs are high.

It probably has to sell at least 50% higher than the buy price just to break even. So keeping the storage at 100% capacity in case of need would not be a priority for them unless they were subsidised to do so.

Little Oil
May 23, 2020 11:00 pm

Excellent paper.

Needs a good edit from someone who is not so close to the subject.

May 24, 2020 8:04 am

Any additional non-fuel electricity production by the virtue of market forces drives the demand for fules down, thus prices go down. If there were no nuclear power plants or renewables the price of fuels would be higher.

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