Energy Policy and Australia / New Zealand
But now the renewable energy chickens are coming back home, roosting in their nests and fouling them at the same time. Those in the electricity supply industry who can read the wind realise that their management of the industry will come under close scrutiny as new governments come to office and respond to the political forces that helped to get them there.
This powerful piece written by Maurice Newman, former chairman of Deutsche Bank, the Australian Securities Exchange and, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a must read by anyone involved in the wind energy debate.
The idea of clean green wind power sounds good in theory, but the problem is that wind is intermittent. When it doesn't blow there is no electricity ...The cost of building and running the turbines just doesn't stack up.
But, of course, when you artificially skew the market with mandatory renewable energy targets and billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies, you get a wind boom.
Queensland families and retirees are worried about the rising costs created by a carbon tax, saying they 'cannot be taxed any further'.
The wind industry is still trying to analyse the implication of some of the recommendations - such as state governments consider their own setback rules, or low-frequency noise be included in planning decisions. But possibly the most valuable part of this process has been the realisation from the wind industry that it needs a little less hubris and a lot more consultation as it seeks to build projects.
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The mindless green dream of producing serious base load power from whimsical breezes and intermittent sunbeams has caused a halt to new low-cost coal power, a boom in expensive gas power, a national debate about nuclear power and no effect at all on global climate.
Two important questions are yet to be answered, however. What is the carbon price that will encourage a widespread shift to technologies which will actually reduce emissions? And what will those technologies be?
To find answers, we conducted a meta-review of 25 authoritative peer-reviewed studies of electricity generating technologies, which was published in the international peer-reviewed scientific journal Energy.
Deep divisions have arisen across Victoria, with neighbour pitted against neighbour, as some land owners erect wind turbines on their properties - often 60m tall with 30m blades. It's pretty good money, sometimes $10,000 a turbine a year. In the midst of a drought, that can feed a family and send kids to school.
But what of the neighbours?
Seething anger over wind farms will not end under Victoria's current planning guidelines, says Paul Sellars.
Your electricity bills are going to at least double in the next 10 years and relentlessly rising power prices could easily triple them. ..."the price rises would be driven "largely by the current policy environment, large amounts of renewables being forced into the system, uncosted charges for those renewables given current policy settings, and substantial increases in transmission and distribution costs".
The $400 million Musselroe wind farm would be built under a Hodgman Liberal government - as long as Kevin Rudd comes to the party. The project has been in doubt due to a significant drop in the price of Renewable Energy Certificates, which the business case relied on.
Kevin Rudd is damned and damned utterly by his own Intergenerational Report. It loudly proclaims we have a prime minister who hasn't got a clue.
Of course it does so completely unknowingly and self-evidently unintentionally. Most deliciously, in so capturing the report's comprehensive inanity, with the illustration chosen for the cover.
Stripped of the political grandstanding, Australia's Renewable Energy Target would fail any reasonable cost-benefit test. However much internal warmth the thought of more windmills and solar panels might generate, the cold hard truth is that renewable energy targets have serious economic implications that warrant close scrutiny. Unfortunately, in handing alternative energy companies a subsidised monopoly to supply 20 per cent of our electricity, the RET scheme is unlikely to reduce emissions cost effectively, if at all.
As the Senate debates carbon policy this week, we have more proposals on the table than anyone knows what to do with and a growing number of questions about their impact on one of the most important facets of modern Australian life: secure, cost-effective power supply.
The Rudd Government's 'green power' strategy has been utterly shredded by detailed analysis which shows the total uselessness of the one form of power on which it is almost entirely based - wind. ...When the wind don't blow, the power don't flow. Even more devastatingly, as this analysis shows, the wind not only don't blow an awful lot of the time. It tends to not blow 'everywhere' at the same time.
Environmentalists who oppose everything except renewable energy are condemning billions to poverty. ...Such opposition demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of where our electricity comes from, how much it costs, who pays for it and what the future global energy landscape looks like.
In New Zealand we are told that windpower is economic compared to alternatives, that the unpredictable short term fluctuations can easily be covered by our "abundant hydropower" and it helps conserve hydropower storage. ...The truth is, as I will show, that windpower is expensive compared to alternatives, hydropower schemes have no spare capacity to back up windpower in a critical dry year and wind power output is lowest in the late summer and autumn when we need it most.
There is no doubt that wind farms are in vogue around the world as governments prioritise renewable energy projects in order to comply with the demands of the Kyoto Protocol. Such "green" energy projects have been promoted by environmentalists as the best way to not only save the planet from global warming, but to create thousands of green jobs in the process. On further investigation however, these claims are found to be spurious. Global temperatures are now cooling not warming, and for each green job created, 2.2 other jobs in other parts of the economy are destroyed.
Governments are fond of setting specific targets by specific time frames to be seen to be doing something without properly considering the technical feasibility. Geothermal isn't ready for 2020. Hydro and biomass growth is limited by available resources. Solar, tidal and wave power are considered too expensive today and probably still will be in 2020.
Which leaves us with wind and that will probably not deliver as much greenhouse gas reduction as we might have expected unless we are prepared to sacrifice network reliability.