Flogging Unreliable Energy By Extension Cord To Singapore Looks Like An Outrageous Fraud


Guest Post by Michael Darby Sunday 2 August 2020

Australia has granted major project status to AU$22bn solar, storage and transmission project which intends to sell unreliable energy to Singapore by undersea cable from Darwin. Here is the LINK to that story.

Ways to profit from a gigantic scam include milking subsidies & tax benefits and ramping shares. No government should bestow Major Project Status on a doomed “project” where no profit will ever be made from selling a product to a willing buyer. Australians call on the Prime Minister to guarantee that not one cent of public money will be committed to any fraudulent plan aimed at subsidies and lurks.

Any government which endorses a scam deserves to be brought down.  Who will receive the greatest reward from the CCP for billions of dollars worth of materials and/or components for useless solar panels? Any fund manager who goes anywhere near a scam will be exposed. Any individual who encourages any private investor to contribute to a scam will be committing an unconscionable crime.

Every rational commercial project begins with a perceived demand. Spruikers for the Australian ASEAN Power Link (AAPL)[1], which is better described as the extension cord project have provided no indication of demand or need in mostly gas-fuelled Singapore for any quantity of electrical energy emanating from Australia.   Nor is there any evidence of research into the Singapore electricity price structure.

Singapore’s industries[2] include 20% of the world’s ship repair, petroleum refining, major biotechnology research operations, heavily commercialised medical tourism, and frontline entities in information and communications technology. All of these entities, plus every arm of the Singapore Government, will demand unequivocal guarantees that all imported energy be wholly uninterrupted and continuous. 

Do not imagine that the putative purveyors of pusillanimous power can fall back on asking Singaporeans to invest in more back-up gas turbines or any other artifice.  From the beginning, supply must be totally secure and dependable, 24 hours a day.

The Basslink[3] HVDC interconnector between Victoria and Tasmania has the capacity to carry 500KW, one twentieth of the intended capacity of the extension cord.  Basslink is 370km long, and cost A$800 million (in 2005 dollars) to build. We can predict that building and installing a 500KW undersea cable for 3,350 km (the theoretical minimum distance) will cost A$7.24bn in 2005 dollars.  I invite any electrical engineer to confirm or correct my expectation that the cost of the cable will increase in proportion to the square root of the increase in carrying capacity. The square root of 20 is 4.472 so we calculate a cost for the undersea cable at $32bn (2005 dollars). According to the Bureau of Census and Statistics[4], $32bn in 2005 equates to $44bn in 2020, twice the $22bn falsely promoted as the total capital investment.

AAPL’s website asserts[5] that a storage facility with the capacity of 30GWh will “enable 24/7 dispatch of power”.  The Highview liquid air battery[6] with a capacity of 250MWh (compared with the 150MWh capacity of the Tesla battery in South Australia) is being built near Manchester UK at a cost of A$148.25m, or A$0.593m per MWh.  At the same cost per MWh, a 30GWh storage device will cost A$17.789bn. 

A$17.789bn – for the claimed storage requirement alone – is more than 80% of the A$22bn figure touted as the total capital cost of the project. 

The Electrical Engineering Portal[7] suggests that the capital cost of 750km of 2GW HVDC is around US$450m or A$626.4m.  To adjust the cost from 2GW HVDC to 10GW HDVC we multiply by the square root of 5 which is 2.236, giving an estimate of $1.4bn.  The total cost of storage and power transmission onshore and undersea is now $63.5bn, nearly three times the falsely claimed total budget.

The per MW capital cost of a solar farm in 2020 is estimated by Solar Mango[8] at £720,000 or A$1.3m.  That equates to $1.304bn per GW or $13bn capital expenditure for nameplate 10GW of solar-generated electricity.

Here is how the CAPEX looks so far:

Solar Farm 10GW nameplate capacity                       $13.0 bn

Storage 30 GWh as proposed                                      $17.8 bn

Transmission 750km to Darwin                                    $1.4 bn

Undersea Cable                                                          $44.3 bn

Total                                                                            $76.5 bn

The revelation that a conservative estimate of the cost is nearly three and half times the whole advertised budget should be enough to condemn this scam immediately. But it gets worse, much, much worse.

30GWH provides three hours of backup for 10GW of generation capacity.  Others may make a better-informed assessment, but I estimate that guaranteeing genuine round-the-clock 10GW power will require sixty hours of backup, that is 600GWh. The cost of 600GWh of backup is $355.8bn.   Even sixty hours may not be enough. Northern Territory residents report that the wet season commonly brings six or seven consecutive days when rain and cloud allow maximum ten percent functionality for solar panels.

We have not yet costed the process of obtaining permissions; from the Federal Government, from the Northern Territory Government and from all affected Aboriginal Communities.   We have not costed bonds for decommissioning.  We have not costed the insurance premiums required to protect the project from claims from customers when the extension cord is severed by an undersea volcano. We have not costed the PR campaign to persuade the Singaporeans that they need to import  electricity and to convince them that electricity generated from intermittent sunlight can be reliably delivered. We have not yet costed the risk to worldwide economies from the possible plague of hysterical laughter when the world reads this in WUWT.

At the very best, 10GW of nameplate solar power will provide 10GW for only 40% of the time. Let’s accept that we are dealing with 100 units of time, and for 60 units of that time we need stored power.  But because stored power is subject to losses, we need to generate enough stored power to cater for 75 units of time, knowing that 20% will be lost.  So 10GW nameplate solar power, supported by whatever (hang the expense) backup is required, can be expected to provide (40 divided by 115 multiplied by ten) 3.478GW of continuous power.  10GW divided by 3.478GW is 2.875.

If you want to produce 10GW of reliable power, you need nameplate capacity 2.875 times 10GW, which is 28.75GW.

Readers might imagine that the total destruction of this appalling scam is complete. No, there is more to come.  HVDC losses reportedly[9] approach 3% per 1,000km.  4,100 km total transmission distance  means budgeting for 12% in losses off the top of potential revenue. Each GW delivered requires generation of 1.136667GW.    So the nameplate capacity requirement is increased from 28.75GW to 32.679GW. Reliable continuous delivery of 10GW of solar-generated electricity to Singapore will require a capital investment of $42.62 billion in a solar farm with nameplate capacity of 32.679GW.

The capital investment required for 60 hours backup for 11.3667GW reliable output is the frightening sum of A$1,163bn, one and one-sixth trillion dollars.

The Pavakarda Solar Park[10] in the South West-Indian State Karnataka (formerly Mysore) uses 53 square kilometres for a nameplate capacity of 2.05GW.  So for 10GW of nameplate capacity expect to use 259 square kilometres.  If the aim is 10GW of reliably delivered power, then we multiply 259 sq km by 3.2679 to require 845 square kilometres containing $44.37bn worth of solar panels, with components  built in China at a shocking environmental cost[11].  Component construction may involve slave labour[12] using materials mined in Africa very likely with slave labour.

What is a rational capital cost for supplying 3.5GW of reliable energy, which exceeds the average energy expectation of 3.478GW available from 10GW of solar panels?   As reported on 5 April 2020,  Poland is planning[13] to invest in nuclear reactors at US$4,500 per Kw or at today’s rate A$6,264 per Kw. That puts the capital cost of nuclear electricity generation at A$6.264m per MW or A$6.264bn per GW.  For 3.5GW of safe reliable continuous nuclear energy, the capital cost is A$21.924bn, coincidentally slightly less than the A$22bn falsely claimed as capital cost by the backers of the extension cord project.

According to Schissel[14], the capital cost of a coal fired power station is around US$3,500 per Kw or A$4,872 per Kw. That puts the capital cost of coal fired electricity generation at A$4.872m per MW or A$6.264bn per GW. For 3.5GW of safe reliable continuous coal powered electricity, the capital cost is A$17.052bn, significantly less than A$22bn.

The electricity needs of Singapore or any other potential market for electricity can be well and cost-effectively served by nuclear or coal-fired power generation without any of the enormous environmental harm inherent in the extension cord project.  

A coal fired power station will operate safely and reliably for more than fifty years, delivering at least seven times the energy used in all aspects of construction and decommissioning.  Modern nuclear power stations may last a century and give a much higher energy return.  In the unlikely event that it is ever completed, the proposed Northern Territory solar farm will function for a maximum of 30 years, by which time its output may have degraded by 8%.  Nobody knows whether fifteen years might be very optimistic for the life of the gargantuan battery pack.  During that 30 years of solar farm life, the extension cord  project may have delivered less energy than was used in solar panel and battery construction and decommissioning.  The world’s available energy may have been reduced by the project.  And the profiteers will have been enriched even if not one KWh reaches Singapore.

Like Snowy Hydro, like all subsidies to unreliable energy, like the submarine contract, this unspeakably irresponsible plan must be stopped.  And the PM should apologise.

This figures and logic displayed above are more than a damning indictment of one gargantuan scam.  This memorandum is a warning that every proposal, anywhere, to link unreliable energy to any grid is automatically suspect.  The default position is that nameplate capacity will be misrepresented as production capacity.  Every estimate of cost will be recklessly understated and every estimate of performance will be deceptively exaggerated.

Despite fewer challenges, the 2009 Desertec Plan[15] for exporting solar-generated power from North Africa to Europe failed totally[16].

Australia has a highly educated parliamentarian, Rhodes Scholar the Hon Angus Taylor BEc, LLB, MPhil(Econ) MP.  He bears the shameful title Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, which institutionalises Government war upon reliable energy and gives undeserved credence to the false tenets of the global warming cult.

The 29 July 2020 joint media release[17] attributes to Minister Taylor: 

“As technologies change, we can capitalise on our strengths in renewables to continue to lead the world in energy exports.”  

There are no strengths in renewables. Every increase in renewable energy inflicted on a grid weakens the nation, drives up electricity costs, impoverishes the poor and threatens the elimination of industry.

Also named in the joint Media Release is another well-educated parliamentarian, Hon Karen Andrews, BEng(Mech), CertMediation, GradDipIndRel, MP, Minister for Science and Technology. The media release admits that the intention is to spend abroad $14bn of the fictional figure $22bn, in attributing to Minister Andrews this statement:

“This project draws on Australia’s world-class solar technology and our high-tech manufacturing capability to export renewable energy on an unprecedented scale. Not only will this power link make Australia a world-leader, it will also create significant economic and employment opportunities here at home with about $8 billion of the $22 billion investment to be injected directly into Australia. It’s a strong statement to all Australians that despite the immediate challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic we will come out the other side stronger and industry is still investing in opportunities that will drive our economic recovery and create much needed jobs.”

I do not believe that either Minister uttered the statements attributed.  Both  statements were likely written in the Prime Ministers office and agreed to by staff of the respective Ministers. Nobody in any Ministerial Office bothered to check any of the invented and unsubstantiated propaganda which induced some negligent individual or group to bestow Major Project Status on this scam.

The time is right for these two ministers to join with other wise colleagues in telling  the Prime Minister, among other things:

In the table below, columns two and three show a genuine CAPEX for the touted claims of AAPL, which despite the unacceptably high cost cannot ever deliver reliable energy. Three hours of backup for solar panels is risible.  Columns four and five show a genuine CAPEX for what might work but must never be contemplated because of frightening cost.   

Major Project Status was granted for a doomed project with a claimed capital cost of $22bn.  The Column 3 figure of $76.604bn exceeds $22bn by 248%. End the scam now.

Unauthorised Analysis of the intended Australian-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL)
Solar Farm10GW nameplate Average production 3.478GW, minus 12% delivery loss.13.041Reliable 10GW delivery to Singapore with nameplate 32.679GW42.618
Storage30GWh (3 hours) backup. No hope of reliable delivery.17.78960 hours backup for reliable constant output 11.37GW, delivery 10GW1,162.709
Transmission to Darwin750km1.401750km1.401
Undersea cable 10GW3,350km44.3733,350km44.373
Unlisted items includeApprovals, Insurance,  decommissioning bond, marketing Approvals, Insurance,  decommissioning bond, marketing 

In conclusion, here is a valuable extract from a recent letter from Saltbush Club[18] founder, Viv Forbes, who has inspired Australia’s defence against the destructive impact of the global warming cult:

The political war on carbon fuels has damaged the environment with forests of “green” power poles, flats of ground-sterilising solar panels, hills of bird-slicing wind turbines plus spider-webs of new power lines and roads. This mess produces unreliable expensive electricity, sterilises land, and wastes water to keep solar panels clean. And imagine the debris when a cyclone sails through a “farm” of panels or a “forest” of turbines. This expensive and unreliable power, plus green taxes and regulations, has destroyed much of Australia’s manufacturing, processing and refining industries – all for zero climate benefits. Gladstone aluminium refinery with 1,000 direct employees is a potential victim.

Abandon the climate war on carbon fuels and withdraw from the useless and destructive Paris Climate Agreement. It will never cool the climate, even if that was a sensible goal. Abolish all subsidies and taxes supporting intermittent green energy and legislate that any generator feeding into the grid must be able to supply 24/7 power, either from their own backup facilities or under contracts.

Economic recovery needs to encourage and fast-track sensible infrastructure and development proposals. We should also abolish stamp duty and capital gains tax and reduce income tax. Governments should prohibit real pollution of land, air and water, but allow farmers, fishermen, foresters, explorers, miners and entrepreneurs to get on with building and expanding their businesses.

Spread the recession pain to all protected government sectors. Cut taxes, and reduce the numbers and benefits for all in politics, bureaucracy, government media, academia and all able-bodied welfare recipients with no dependents.

[1] https://www.pv-tech.org/news/australia-grants-major-status-to-au22bn-solar-storage-and-transmission-proj

[2] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-the-biggest-industries-in-singapore.html

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basslink

[4] https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/2005?amount=1

[5][5] http://suncable.sg

[6] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/greater-manchester-to-house-to-worlds-largest-liquid-air-battery

[7] https://electrical-engineering-portal.com/analysing-the-costs-of-high-voltage-direct-current-hvdc-transmission

[8] http://www.solarmango.com/ask/2015/10/26/what-is-the-installation-cost-of-utility-scale-solar-power-plant-mw-in-the-uk/

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current AND https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec

[10] https://www.power-technology.com/projects/pavagada-solar-park-karnataka/

[11] https://www.americanmanufacturing.org/blog/entry/the-true-cost-of-chinese-solar-panels-part-3

[12] Op. cit.

[13] https://neutronbytes.com/2020/04/05/poland-counts-costs-for-new-nuclear-reactors/

[14] https://schlissel-technical.com/docs/reports_35.pdf

[15] https://www.euractiv.com/section/trade-society/news/desertec-abandons-sahara-solar-power-export-dream/

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec

[17] https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/karenandrews/media-releases/22b-project-power-nt-singapore-given-major-status-boost

[18] https://saltbushclub.com/

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August 2, 2020 2:15 pm

“Spruik” is an Aussie word for hard-sell = i.e. “flog”.
I’ve never heard it used outside of Australia.

Reply to  JCalvertN(UK)
August 3, 2020 11:19 am

FWIW “flog” has been common in the UK for generations, but many Americans will find it novel.

Steve Taylor
August 2, 2020 2:17 pm

Hmm. Basslink is 500MW, not 500KW

Michael Darby
Reply to  Steve Taylor
August 2, 2020 6:07 pm

Thank you Steve Taylor for spotting that typo. Apologies to all

Reply to  Michael Darby
August 2, 2020 9:48 pm

There is one far greater cost you have not mentioned. Total destruction by severe thunderstorms could have the whole lot destroyed in an afternoon. I used to fly down over that area with TAA in the 1970s and 1980s and in summer storm tops would often exceed 45,000′ and the Territory’s aerodromes would all close with severe thunderstorms. Dust is another big problem in Central Australia, but big hail and high winds would be the big killer

Reply to  Michael Darby
August 3, 2020 2:19 am

I tend to doubt the competence of those who do not even know the right the units of subject they are discussing. It’s kW not KW.

Managing to be three orders of magnitude off totally blows your cred.

Though I suspect the underlying claim that this project is a meaningless subsidy mining operation ( making people to financially untenable things is the actual AIM of govt. subsidies ) is correct, I don’t think we will be getting any informative detail or citable facts and figures from this article.

I invite any electrical engineer to confirm or correct my expectation that the cost of the cable will increase in proportion to the square root of the increase in carrying capacity.

I invite the author to research his article before publishing it. I gave up reading at that stage.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Greg
August 3, 2020 9:00 am

Greg for clarity what is a kW. From what I gather you have no idea either. I know it to mean it a 1000 watts, which does not mean much. Without a time frame a kW is only telling me something can generate 1000 watts of power for and unspecified time frame. 1000 watts of power for a second can put you in your grave but won’t do much to heat a pan of water. So your comment is rather worthless. Grammar bullies do nothing to forward the conservation.

Reply to  Greg
August 8, 2020 7:41 pm

To reply to Greg, the errors in technical jargon are not important. What is important is that the entire idea of green energy is a scam that requires the expenditure of more taxpayer subsidy dollars.
For those readers who only wish to criticize specific technical aspects of the editorial or minor errors in numbers, get your heads out of your ass and remember that the principle we’re discussing here is the United Nations IPCC climate crisis cult scam and the belief by the enviros that the Paris Accord would accomplish anything which it will not, because only about 32 countries actually signed on. The remainder went home to laugh at the rest!
L. Leugner, Cochrane Alberta Canada

Tom Abbott
August 2, 2020 2:25 pm

From the article: “There are no strengths in renewables. Every increase in renewable energy inflicted on a grid weakens the nation, drives up electricity costs, impoverishes the poor and threatens the elimination of industry.”

That sums it up.

Politicians are poor job creators. They should leave this up to private enterprise. If the project is worth it, private enterprise will pay to implement it.

That’s how you judge a project like this: Is private enterprise interested in doing it? If not, forget it.

Trevor in Ontario-owe
August 2, 2020 2:32 pm

This is a tough read for someone like me who isn’t at all familiar with much of the specific circumstances in Australia (even though I am knowledgeable and experienced in power system operations). It would be helpful if the author would provide some sort of “Executive Summary” – perhaps 4 or 5 paragraphs – to set the stage, outline the specific problems, and summarize the conclusions.

Reply to  Trevor in Ontario-owe
August 3, 2020 1:35 am

Being a New Zealander, I can quote a well known saying “Australian and or conman” looks like the industry has come home to roost !

Reply to  nottoobrite
August 3, 2020 11:23 am

Are you saying Australia is a nation of spivs?

August 2, 2020 2:37 pm

Steve T – yes, but it looks like a typo, the following maths is correct.

August 2, 2020 2:52 pm

Can’t wait to see what the Aboriginal Land Councils will want for permitting this giant solar array on or across tribal lands.
That bill could be a project killer in itself.

Reply to  Mr.
August 2, 2020 5:31 pm

Who says tribal lands are involved?

There is plenty of alternative sunny land in the NT.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 2, 2020 5:55 pm

So Nick you reckon no transmission lines from the solar array at Elliot 750 kms from the cable terminal at Darwin will need to cross tribal lands?

Have a look at this map –

That cable is going to have to do a lot of zig zagging.
The 750 kms from Elliot to Darwin could turn into ~ 2,000 kms +

Reply to  Mr.
August 2, 2020 6:59 pm

The site is beside the railway line to Darwin. I’m sure they have in mind using the rail easement.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 2, 2020 7:55 pm

OK, maybe they are also thinking about electrifying the rail line from the solar power.
I understand that everything in the Territory runs on “Territory Time”, so that would work.
For a dozen hours or so every day at least.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 2, 2020 9:06 pm

“runs on “Territory Time”, so that would work”
In fact, the site is on the route of the Darwin to Adelaide 3000km World Solar Challenge car race. Onboard solar power only, it takes them about 4 days.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 2, 2020 10:40 pm

Yeah Nick but Darwin to Adelaide is a downhill run, while Elliot to Darwin is uphill. 🙂

No matter, those magic solar power electrons will no doubt overcome mere geography, and make that northbound trek a breeze.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 3, 2020 9:06 am

Running a oil pipe line with a quarter mile from a 36 gas pipeline did not stop the tribe complaining about the North Dakota oil pipe line, even though it did not cross “tribal lands”.
Now day it does not matter where the easement is, someone going to scream no matter what the reason. In the 80s the were complaining about power transmission line and cancer. NIMBY is all over the place and need no facts to be objected to.

Trevor in Ontari-owe
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 3, 2020 4:35 pm

In Canada, Reserve lands were certainly expropriated for purposes such as railways, roads, transmission lines and the like. BUT the law here doesn’t allow land that was expropriated for Purpose A a number of years ago to then be used for Purpose B today; rather, a new expropriation would be required. And that leads to lots of problems.

Reply to  Mr.
August 3, 2020 10:45 pm

Not Today
Not Tomorrow
Next Time

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 2, 2020 5:57 pm

Wasn’t it all their land, before Whitey showed up?

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 2, 2020 6:29 pm

Well they claim there was no concept of “ownership” of territory.

Apparently they were devotees of John Lennon’s “Imagine” –
[Verse 3]
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer . . .

(Or maybe they were the inspiration for AOC’s green new deal. If so, the lesson is that it didn’t turn out very well for them)

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 8, 2020 7:50 pm

Bullshit Jeff! they weren’t doing anything with the land. It was time someone did something with it, even Whitey! AT LEAST HE KNEW HOW TO DO DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

[guys, can we tone it down a bit-mod]

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 3, 2020 4:39 am

They will need payment for disturbance to the rainbow serpent … claim incoming

A myth from the Northern Territory tells of how a great mother arrives from the sea, traveling across Australia and giving birth to the various Aboriginal tribes

August 2, 2020 2:57 pm

The Singapore government could lease the land for the solar panels and build the whole lot on its own. No Australian money needed. It’s not like it’s our sun.

Reply to  Waza
August 3, 2020 1:40 am

Waza do you think the Singapore Government is as stupid as you ????

Reply to  nottoobrite
August 3, 2020 4:29 am

Surely there must have been something from Singapore to indicate approval of the plan or it never would have been announced. A transaction requires two or more parties mutual agreement unless one is big and strong enough to set all the terms, regardless of any objections (e.g. citizen against government requires only the word, and guns, of government).

Reply to  Waza
August 3, 2020 4:41 am

It’s all green stupid investor money let them lose it. The only issue I can see is ethical super funds will probably lose their shirts as well but that industry is going to crash and burn one way or another.

Serge Wright
August 2, 2020 3:02 pm

When solar pv and storage are not viable within your own country it would seem that the best option for climate crazed investors is to find an even more non-viable option. Of course the project will fail, and aside from the valid reasons being made above, one must also consider the highly unstable sea floor that the cable will traverse, being an unstable tectonic plate boundary prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. My guess is that the project will go broke well before completion.

Reply to  Serge Wright
August 2, 2020 3:54 pm

..but not before many individuals involved in it have paid themselves extremely large salaries for a few years and diverted other millions into crony hands…

Carl Friis-Hansen
August 2, 2020 3:48 pm

Thanks, Michael Darby, for the great article describing a horrible project.

Without knowing the facts, I will assume the 4,000km DC sea cable will be even more expensive than your calculations show:

The cable would be in many, many segments that need to be joined at the time of rolling out the cable.
If they cannot rent a suitable “cable ship”, they would have to build one for this project. Either way there is a lot of cost associated.

Not sure what the three phase AC to single phase DC and single phase to three phase AC inverter stations cost, but I expect these stations to be more expensive than transformers. Add to that, transformer last a very long time, whereas the inverters may not last as long.

Will Singapore commit to long term contract, say 30 years?
Okay, maybe they will, but in case of conflict, the Chinese may not honor the contract and say: Keep your electricity for yourselves.

At what price can Australia sell their sunshine electricity to Singapore?
I would be surprised if Singapore accept to pay more than what they pay for coal thermal electricity locally produced.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
August 2, 2020 4:36 pm

Not sure what the three phase AC to single phase DC and single phase to three phase AC inverter stations cost, but I expect these stations to be more expensive than transformers. Add to that, transformer last a very long time, whereas the inverters may not last as long.

For long runs, DC wins hands down. link It’s been standard operating practice for quite a long time.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  commieBob
August 2, 2020 11:24 pm

Agree totally commieBob.
Due to both inductive and capacitive properties there is less loss using DC.
What I wanted to point out is, that both transformers and inverters are not cheap, adding to the cost of the insane project.

It is funny, it reminds me of the Edison vs Tesla discussion over hundred years ago. Today it is possible “transform” DC voltage up and down for a lot lower price. A hundred years ago you would use rotating transformers, today we use electronic devices that are a million times more complicated, but despite that, cheaper and more maintenance free than the rotating ones.

The rotating “transformers” had at lest one advantage over the inverters though:
The rotating transformers had great short term inertia and this inertia could be extended with a flywheel.

August 2, 2020 3:48 pm

This proposal is far bigger than any white elephant, it’s a white death star powered by ACME.

Reply to  DPP
August 3, 2020 2:39 am

If ACME is involved, I vote for Wile E Coyote as Chief Engineer for the project and Road Runner as Transport Director.

Well, it makes just as much sense as the rest of the idea.

August 2, 2020 3:51 pm

Renewable energy relies on the inability of the Great Unwashed to Do Sums.
They will look at this article and say ‘written by a well known climate denier working for an oil company’

Sad eh?

Reply to  Leo Smith
August 2, 2020 5:19 pm

Renewable energy relies on the inability to call out the definition of renewable. It means free. It cannot cost anything.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  niceguy
August 3, 2020 9:11 am

Yep to the uneducated and over-educated the energy is free, what they fail to understand is the cost of collecting is very expensive.

August 2, 2020 4:06 pm

The Australian ASEAN Power Link (AAPL), is more accurately described as the ‘Giant Extension Cord Kilowatt Organisation’ (GECKO). It has less chance of sticking in place than a real Gecko. In the Age of Scams, both private and government led scams, it is a noticeable as a large one. The existing Giant Extension Cord from Victoria to Tasmania has a hard time remaining functional supplying Hydro-Electric Power. A very much longer cord to Singapore supplying eratic intermittent ‘renewable’ solar or wind power has even less chance of working lastingor even selling. The motto of the Age of Scams is Caveat Emptor.

August 2, 2020 4:08 pm

Why does griff, also known as egriff, get to post here and also at the Guardian without being banned in either blogs for his/her comments? I have been banned 5 times (in various guises, ip address the same, lol) in a very short time at the Guardian for very casual comments?

Is WUWT big but the MSM is bigger?

What do you think griff?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  leitmotif
August 2, 2020 6:02 pm

Any hint of skepticism will get you banned, made into a non-person. You must be completely gullible in order for your comments to be accepted at alarmist sites.

Reply to  leitmotif
August 3, 2020 11:56 pm

I’m griff now because new computer and email… apologies for any confusion: necessary update!

The Guardian just removes comments that are contrary to its policy… often on very thin grounds/very wide application of terms.

I don’t think that’s right: better to let other people make the argument against what you post?

There are some excellent posters here willing to make the full ten shilling argument!

Robert of Texas
August 2, 2020 4:08 pm

It’s actually quite easy to increase the reliability of this green project – I don’t know why the author thinks it’s so hard… Just build enough gas powered electric plants to provide the required electricity, open up the land for fracking, and then sell the expensive intermittent power back to the Aussies and collect subsidies.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 2, 2020 4:27 pm

That is the real plan; 22bn worth of virtue signaling.

August 2, 2020 4:15 pm

Realizing that Hong Kong prospers because of its proximity to mainland China and all that but …

Is there any interest in building a new Hong Kong in northern Australia?

August 2, 2020 4:26 pm

I old enough to remember when nuclear was energy produced far from the consumers and had too much distribution losses (at most ~ 300 km in France) and OTOH “renewable” energy was “local” and “avoided transport losses”.

August 2, 2020 4:26 pm

There’s another complication with this impossible project and that is the depth and topography of the Timor sea and the Java sea between Darwin (???) and Singapore. Then there’s a pesky chain of islands known as Indonesia in the way. Also FWIW, from my time living in the NT, one year during the wet season we didn’t see the sun for weeks on end. So 60 hours backup would be next to useless.

It’s but another rent seeking boondoggle that will go the same way as all the others – solar/thermal, geothermal, tidal etc etc. It will be in the same league as the push to develop a hydrogen economy (promoted by our Chief Scientist – God help us), the same person who delivered a report into the Australian electricity system that when implemented by the zealots now in charge will be guaranteed to destroy it. Yes, over here in Australia, we are capable of monumental stuff ups.

Reply to  Delta
August 2, 2020 5:54 pm

Plus it would have to cross an active plate boundary. That alone should scuttle the project, but there are also political tensions in the area that would make it impossible to guarantee a secure supply.

Steve Case
August 2, 2020 4:27 pm

You know where this is headed right? Just like the sun never set on the British Empire, the Climate Mob is going to come up with a plan [money pit] where there is always a solar array or wind farm pumping power into the system.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Steve Case
August 2, 2020 11:49 pm

I remember the plans Steve Chase mention were spoken about back in 1984, when I worked for the Danish wind industry.
Due to happy employment, I didn’t laugh or argue against the concept, and I think this applied to most of my engineer colleagues back then, as well as these days.

Philip in New Zealand
August 2, 2020 4:40 pm

Darwin is one of the few places that gets more sun in “winter” than in “summer”. The north western tip of Australia near Port Headland is the sunniest place in Australia averaging 1.5 hours more sun per day than Darwin. Port Headland is roughly the same distance as Darwin from Singapore. Basslink is owned by a Singaporian company and has had major outages since in was commissioned.

August 2, 2020 4:44 pm

I would buy an EV if they could compete. But with cheap gas they really can’t and the range is far too short. Maybe I’m 10 years they will be worth it.

Robert of Ottawa
August 2, 2020 5:10 pm

Where is this 10GW solar facility going toi be built “near Darwin”. Darwin is tropical and jungle.

If you want to build in the desert you have to travel a feww hundred kilometersw further South.

The thieving bastards are only interested inmilking government subsidies.

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
August 2, 2020 5:42 pm

Darwin is not jungle.

But the proposed site is at Elliott, 400 miles south of Darwin.

Michael Jankowski
August 2, 2020 5:16 pm

“…Singapore’s industries include 20% of the world’s ship repair, petroleum refining…”

Solar to refine oil and to help repair ships overwhelmingly powered by gas…no irony there!

Geoff Sherrington
August 2, 2020 5:25 pm

The Australian Energy market Operator, AEMO, last week released this press release and report:
This ISP 2020, the Integrated System Plan, is for the major part of the Australian electricity system, the National Electricity market or NEM that covers eastern Australia.
There can be little argument that – Australia needs to increase its manufacturing; that we know a lot of ways to do that; and we know that cheap, reliable, high quality electricity supply is a key part of future national progress.
The AEMO plan for the next 20 years is a green wet dream. Nuclear is not addressed. Renewables, mainly onshore wind, large scale solar units and distributed rooftop toys are the way of the future, as coal is shut out and GPG gas plants, VPP virtual power plants, BOTN (Battery of the Nation), hydrogen as a fuel, and various storage systems are incorporated to overcome the unreliability of renewables. Vast new sums are to be spent on transmission.
Relative to the Singapore extension cable discussed here by Michael Darby, here is part of but one of these new transmission link proposals verbatim –
“Marinus Link, two new high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables connecting Victoria and Tasmania, each with 750 MW of transfer capacity and associated AC transmission, should be progressed such that the first cable can be completed as early as 2028-29 (should the Step Change scenario emerge) or no later than 2031-32 (should the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Target [TRET] be legislated or the Fast Change scenario emerge, and the cost recovery be resolved).”
There are significant deficiencies in this AEMO report. The costings are very difficult to follow, compare and validate. There is no clear distinction between projects already under way and new ones, so that the report invites the reader to think that the plan is a fait accompli. (Just sit comfortably in your soft recliner chair and watch Australia march to green power nirvana.)
There are dramatic assumptions in the AEMO report. There are many uncertainties, but the AEMO authors tell us that these doubts can be overcome by planning –
“The market will need to incentivise timely investment in essential services and resources needed to replace retiring generators. Without managed exit and entry of resources, consumers would be exposed to higher costs as they have been following every single generator exit in the NEM over the past decade. For dispatchable resources, market design must not only recognise the provision of energy, but also the increasing value of flexibility and dispatchability in complementing and firming intermittent generation, and other system security services currently provided by generators which are scheduled to soon retire. For example, an investor in new pumped hydro could build the plant with the capability to provide system strength and inertia, even when it does not need to produce energy.”
The AEMO report does not compare its plans with past experience from other countries. A word search does not find either “Germany” or “Energiewende” in its 99 pages.
The extreme green wishful thinking that underpins the AEMO report was, for me, vividly captured by its favourable citing of reference 3, “The Australian energy system is acknowledged to be undergoing the world’s fastest transformation: Blakers et al., (2019) “Pathway to 100% Renewable Electricity”, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, Vol. 9, No 6”
Andy Blakers, from the Australian Conservation Foundation, opens his paper with “Balancing an electricity system with 30–100% variable PV and wind is straightforward using off-the-shelf techniques comprising stronger interconnection over large areas to smooth out local weather, storage, demand management, and occasional spillage of renewable electricity.” Blakers does not stress that when generation over a wide area does NOT smooth out, his system collapses.
The final part of the AEMO report has a few interesting summaries, such as “The ISP re-confirms that the NEM power system will continue its significant transformation to worldleading levels of renewable generation. This will test the boundaries of system security and current operational experience. As identified in AEMO’s Renewable Integration Study (RIS)59 , targeted actions can overcome regional and NEM-wide challenges to allow the NEM to be operated securely with up to 75% instantaneous penetration of wind and solar.”
Define “securely” objectively.

I do not want Australia to “test the boundaries of system security and current operational experience”. I want Australia to return to its world-leading performance of cheap, reliable electricity that our competent engineers produced before 2005. It was mostly based on coal. It attracted alumina refineries and aluminium smelters and other heavy users of cheap, reliable electricity with small transmission grids. Many of these heavy user industries have fled from Australia in the last decade.
That walk-out will continue unless leadership from our Federal politicians sends AEMO back to the drawing boards to propose schemes similar to pre-2005, to report on the adoption of nuclear, to compare the performance of their green scheme with Germany’s failed Energiewende, to fully and rigorously compare the economics of fossil fuels with renewables (with full back-up).
My children and grandchildren deserve a better electrical future than this green ideology.
Geoff S

Old planning engineer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 2, 2020 11:26 pm


I wouldn’t be too worried about the long term. Around 3 GW of small uncontrolled PV (< 1MW each installation) is expected to be installed this year. With Spring / Autumn minimum load at solar noon of around 13 GW this represents a decrease in minimum load of around 20%. How low this load can go before the NEM (the name of the integrated Australian east coast transmission system) becomes unstable has not been published. My guess (with no evidence whatsoever) is somewhere around 7 – 8 GW.

Personally, I would worry about November 2022 or March 2023. My guess is that it would be wise to have about 36 hours of backup in place by then.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Old planning engineer
August 3, 2020 3:36 am

Below, there is a graph of the consumer price of electricity in Australia over the years.
The sudden increase in year 2006 coincides with the phasing out of coal and the subsidising of renewables.
My plea is simple. I want to go back to pre-2006 conditions, when Australia was on a par with the cheapest, most reliable electricity in the world, attracting investment, real jobs and real national income. I am shitty that this no_CO2 ideology is already exacting a huge toll and a big drop in our living standards.
It would be great if experienced engineers everywhere posted critiques of that AEMO report here.

August 2, 2020 5:58 pm

The analysis overlooks the aggressive climate action programs and stated objectives of the singapore government. (Caution: this link may download the pdf of singapore’s climate action plan).


August 2, 2020 6:03 pm

Some figures

CRE withheld approval for the project in December and launched a public consultation to assess the impact of Brexit on the 1,000 megawatt (MW) power cable project that is estimated to cost 750 million euros ($800 million).

The HVDC cable will be 204-kilometre (127 mi) long, operating at +/-320kV, and with a capacity to transmit 1,000 MW of power.[2] It will be the second interconnector between France and Great Britain, after the HVDC Cross-Channel link.

Patrick MJD
August 2, 2020 6:33 pm

Now this is a sure sign renewables are simply boondoggles and there will be only one winner. Aussie taxpayers will, yet again, foot the bill. What do we know about under sea power transmission lines? They are very expensive to make, very expensive to lay, very expensive to retrieve and repair and generally there are two with different exit and entry points on land.

August 2, 2020 9:06 pm

Is this project based on the premise that the sun does not shine on Singapore?
If a solar plant was capable of producing useful energy, why not build it close to the customers? Save all that transmission cost and risk.
In any case, on the best days there is up to six hours of good output in summer. Even in California, output is half in the winter. Not to mention night time.

Reply to  Billy
August 3, 2020 10:13 am

No, it does not shine on 177 days a year, you could have googled that yourself, isn’t it? Singapore is not a desert. Took me 3 seconds to find out.

Old planning engineer
August 2, 2020 11:31 pm


I wouldn’t be too worried about the long term. Around 3 GW of small uncontrolled PV (< 1MW each installation) is expected to be installed this year. With Spring / Autumn minimum load at solar noon of around 13 GW this represents a decrease in minimum load of around 20%. How low this load can go before the NEM (the name of the integrated Australian east coast transmission system) becomes unstable has not been published. My guess (with no evidence whatsoever) is somewhere around 7 – 8 GW.

Personally, I would worry about November 2022 or March 2023. My guess is that it would be wise to have about 36 hours of backup in place by then.

August 2, 2020 11:59 pm

There are multiple HVDC cables recently laid or in the process of being installed across the North Sea and Baltic.

I would think that those would give you an accurate assessment of the costs of HVDC in 2020. given that this is now a more common activity, perhaps prices are lower than in 2005?

I would have thought that the storage aspect of this is secondary: most of the time available solar will be transported and used immediately…

Phil Rae
Reply to  griff
August 3, 2020 1:21 am

And just how do you propose to provide power during the hours of darkness, Griff?

Without storage, the lights go out….but since the storage requirement would have to be colossal to guarantee power 24/7, we know the lights will go out anyway! Oh dear!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Phil Rae
August 3, 2020 2:40 am

Because like Catweazle he “believes” it’s all “electrickery”.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
August 3, 2020 11:53 pm

ah! Catweazle! Hadn’t thought about that in years…

Reply to  griff
August 3, 2020 8:16 am

grifter, Singaporeans aren’t as dumb as some Europeans/Brits (or Australians or Americans for that matter).

August 3, 2020 2:16 am

Hilarious – a $76.5 billion undefended asset laid through some of the most pirate infested waters in Asia. What could possibly go wrong?

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2020 3:39 am

Eric,,, go wrong?
A rise in the price of black market scrap copper?
What are we going to do about that AEMO report I mentioned here? Geoff S

Reply to  Eric Worrall
August 3, 2020 4:43 am

I have to say, I was thinking the same thing.

Michael Darby
August 3, 2020 5:29 am

WUWT contributors all,
My grateful thanks to Charles the Moderator for allowing me this opportunity.
it is humbling experience to enjoy the support and encouragement of so many wise individuals and I have learned a great deal by reading your comments. Emails will be very welcome at michael@michaeldarby.net.
We all face a challenge. How is it that not one respondent has identified as a lady? How can we save civilisation from deliberate destruction by the global warming cult if our ranks are bereft of women? What can we do to redress this disappointing dire damsel dearth?

Reply to  Michael Darby
August 3, 2020 8:23 am

I’m sure we can come up with some ideas Michael, but first we have to get past your appalling abuse of alliteration 🙂
(Bugger – now you’ve got me doing it!)

August 3, 2020 8:13 am

Undersea energy cable from Australia to Singapore? ROFLMAO. Even considering how idiotic some of these people are, it’ll never happen.

August 3, 2020 10:44 am

Does it come with the space elevator too? and the space-based solar array aimed at earth?

old engineer
August 3, 2020 2:42 pm

Michael Darby-

Thanks for a very interesting and well researched article. But I think you need to explain something for us non-Australian readers. You write “Australia has granted major project status to AU$22bn solar, storage and transmission project…”

Apparently the government granting “major project status” is some kind of official recognition. Could you explain this further? Does it mean the government will have some kind of financial interest, either directly or by guaranteeing loans or bonds?

Jim G
August 3, 2020 6:45 pm

Why on earth would you put the storage facility at the point of production and not the point of use?
Talk about making an inefficient system even more inefficient.

Michael Darby
August 3, 2020 9:30 pm

old engineer
You have raised a very important question which I should have addressed. Major Project Status is explained at this Federal Government website: https://www.business.gov.au/Grants-and-Programs/Major-Project-Status
The necessary criteria are listed, including:
“3. The project has sufficient financial resources and is commercially viable. Developers need to show that the project has attracted enough funding, at least enough to complete the approval processes. You’ll need evidence of adequate funding and support such as:
>evidence of support from governments and communities
>resolutions of support from the board of a parent company
>a letter of support from a parent company or investor
>letters of intent, heads of agreement or other commercial documents, offtake and supply agreements, audited company accounts
>feasibility studies, business case or financial viability assessments.”
The probability is high that no attempt was made to satisfy these criteria, and we are entitled to conclude that no responsible person in government made any effort to review the claims or check the numbers.
The term “scandal” is appropriate.
The problem we face is the mentality at all levels of government that any plan to destroy reliable energy, however irrational, must be automatically supported.
The world faces a grave threat because COVID-19 has increased the opportunities for recklessly irrational destructive behaviour by governments. Governments parrot statements such as “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.” This is a very false concept. Extraordinary times require maximum caution in decision making, which must be based upon historical precedents for wise decision making in the face of danger or disaster, and careful analysis of the consequences of all decisions.
WUWT brings together thinking people worldwide. WUWT thinkers reject dangerous attitudes common to political leaders who have never been trained by the market place to feel the impacts of their own exercise of judgement. Australia now demonstrates the concept: “Something must be done! This is something.”

old engineer
Reply to  Michael Darby
August 3, 2020 9:51 pm

Thanks for explanation and the link. I certainly agree with you that the term “scandal” is appropriate.

August 4, 2020 7:21 am

“Australia has granted major project status to AU$22bn solar, storage and transmission project which intends to sell unreliable energy to Singapore by undersea cable from Darwin”

I did not see this specific topic in the article, where the not insignificant conversion losses are included in the costs.

That is, Direct Current (DC) produced by the alleged renewables are not transmittable over long distance.
Forcing Australia to convert DC into Alternating Current (AC) prior to transmission.

Perhaps the Manhattan Institute Report should include mining smelting and refining costs for the copper in that extension cord? Plus the fossil fuel derived wire coatings.

Reply to  ATheoK
August 5, 2020 12:55 am

er… no.

An HVDC line transmits as direct current.

There have been a number of advances in HVDC technology (in current conversion at each end) in recent years

Michael Darby
August 4, 2020 12:36 pm

Thank you all for helpful comments, many of which have been incorporated in a revision which is at http://michaeldarby.net/Scam.pdf
Good wishes

David Brunt
August 4, 2020 3:35 pm

This is the Northern Territory ‘s submarine project. Really in the never never!

August 5, 2020 7:28 am

As the Obama Administration said, “We don’t pick winners.”

That was great spin wording for their special ops efforts to fund losers with special connections politically.

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