Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s ignorant new Energy Minister Angus Taylor attacks renewable energy

Taylor launches extraordinary and ill-informed attack against wind and solar, REneweconomy, Giles Parkinson
 New energy minister Angus Taylor has launched a new and extraordinary attack against wind and solar, saying they cause “de-industrialisation” and claiming that Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target would send a “wrecking ball” through the Australian economy.

The comments came in an interview on Sky News on Sunday night, and little more than a week after Taylor told radio stock jock Alan Jones that there was already “too much” wind and solar in the grid.

On Sunday, he went even further: Asked by Sky’s Chris Kenny what he thought of Labor leader Bill Shorten’s comment that Labor was still thinking about adopting some aspects of the National Energy Guarantee, now dumped by the Coalition government, Taylor trotted out all the usual diatribe about wind and solar. …..

The fact that the ring wingers Jones and Kenny hold such extreme and ill-informed views about climate and energy is well known, and not of great consequence.

But the fact that the country’s energy minister goes on to their programs and agrees with them, despite all the evidence to the contrary, is deeply troubling – for investors and consumers ……..

The notion of “de-instrialisation” will be news to the likes of UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta, and the new state Liberal government. Gupta has rescued and is planning to expand the steelworks at Whyalla, based around a huge investment in solar and storage – a plan he intends to repeat with his steel operations in Victoria and NSW.

Half a dozen other major energy users have also signed up with Gupta’s Simec Zen Energy for cheaper electricity delivered largely by renewables and storage, and more are set to follow. Zinc refiner Sun Metals, brewer CUB, confectionary maker Mars, and vegetable grower Nectar Farms are all turning to wind and solar, as are many other companies.

The South Australia Liberal government has also embraced the state’s high renewables share, and islifting its commitment to battery storage, both large and small. A plan for $100 million in household grants has already had an industrial pay-off, with German battery giant Sonnen to build a manufacturing plant in the old GM Holden factory in Elizabeth.

And why not? As we pointed out last week, South Australia stands to benefits in multiple ways from its commitment to renewables – in emissions, prices and investment. AEMO seems comfortable with the fact that the state is heading towards 73 per cent renewables by 2021 and equivalent to 100 per cent by 2025.

Taylor’s antipathy to “intermittent” generation is well known, and long standing, and in the interview with Kenny he didn’t stop there, trotting out a series of claims that are in direct contradiction to the findings of institutions such as the Energy Security Board, the ACCC, the Australian Energy Market Commission and The Australian Energy Market Operator.

He said of the various state targets – well, Victoria and Queensland in particular – that the “result will be very clear – it will push out baseload power, intermittent generation that is being stuffed into the sector will have to be backed up, and that is extremely expensive ….. networks will have to be rebuilt to absorb all of this new intermittent capacity coming in, and we all going to pay for it.”

That’s not true at all. AEMO’s Integrated System Plan contemplates that existing targets of the state governments, and Labor’s nation-wide target, and finds no issues. Yes, some extra investment in networks will be needed, along with other measures such as the need to orchestrate distributed energy sources, but it sees no threats such as the lights going out.

In fact, the AEMO report highlights the fact that the biggest shift from what Taylor likes to call “fair dinkum” baseload power towards wind and solar and storage will be in NSW – the one state without a renewable energy target. That’s because its coal generators are old, expensive and dirty, and nearly all will need replacing in coming decades.

Nor does AEMO’s or the ESB’s 10 year outlook see any prospect of the reliability obligation – which is still in the works –  being triggered.

Even if the definition of reliability is changed, to address the concern raised from exceptional and extended heat-waves, and the fear that country’s existing coal and gas generators will be unable to cope, the answer to that issue is not more “baseload”, but more dispatchable generation.

Taylor describes himself as the minister for getting prices down, but as the Energy Security Board, and any number of analysts, including most recently the Australia Institute, have pointed out, price falls in the next couple of years will be delivered by the influx of renewables from the renewable energy target.

Kenny made the baseless claim that renewables had been the primary cause of Australia’s electricity price rises. Taylor readily agreed.  Even the ACCC report notes that by far the biggest contributor was the increase in network prices, following closely by wholesale prices driven mostly by the lack of competition and a jump in gas prices…….

Many of Taylor’s other claims are full of hot air.

Taylor says the government will ensure that new “dispatchable” generation is built, but a new report from S&P says that the lack of any coherent policy under this government will be the biggest factor against building new capacity.

It was interesting to note that Taylor said it may be months before an outline of the government plans to underwrite “new 24-hour baseload” would be unveiled. That’s an indication of the difficulties ahead. To achieve his desired outcome, would go against engineering and economic sense, and it won’t be in place before the next poll.

Taylor also threatens to stop any company from closing coal fired generators by forcing divestment. But he admits he doesn’t actually have the power to do that. “We will create powers of divestment,” he promises. But how?…….


September 16, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy

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