‘It is this simple: skyrocketing world electricity prices stem from renewables policies. Notwithstanding the avalanche of propaganda we are seeing throughout the country, no wind or solar gets built anywhere in the world without subsidies paid by taxpayers and customers. In Australia’s case these costs are $10 billion a year in grants and network spending.
The genesis of the current malaise has been closures of generating plants which have been demonised by the politically correct. In Europe this is mainly involves coal. Those countries that have been particularly severely hit by the present crisis are the UK and Spain, both of which have closed 80 per cent of their coal capacity – and Germany, which has closed about one third of its coal. Germany also suffers from having closed down most of its nuclear power plant. Japan also followed this policy.
Those countries which have fared well include Korea, where they have been building both coal and nuclear, and the US and Canada, which have gone through energy transformations based on gas from the same fracking process that has been falsely stigmatised in Australia and the UK. The US, however, is now becoming a clone of Europe, with the Biden administration blocking gas and oil developments while doubling up on renewables subsidies.
Around the world we also have seen other contributory factors which have brought on the current crisis, some involved supply constraints especially from Russia. Importantly, there was also a wind drought in Europe – a common occurrence that always leaves wind-dependent systems vulnerable. This coincided with high gas prices, so stocks were run down and prices of gas escalated.
In the UK this was further aggravated by disruption of the nuclear electricity from France. UK and German forward electricity prices are now 2-3 times Australia’s, and because UK prices are inflexible a number of electricity retailers have gone belly up. Germany is importing a great deal of electricity, as well as turning coal back on, and praying that it will receive extra supplies of Russian gas by Christmas. All this has meant a bonanza for Australian gas and coal exports. Ironically, these were interred by the Business Council of Australia report a couple of days ago. (The BCA’s full report can be downloaded here.)
The agitprop financed by woke alarmists and vested interests, as presented with qualification in the mainstream media, is seeking to accelerate Australia’s shift to phase out coal. In an indication that actually running a specific business requires more applied intelligence than making broad and illogical generalisations about the sector’s future, the Business Council actually claims we can flourish by reducing the present 75 per cent coal-and-gas share of electricity supply to 15 per cent by 2030 and virtually zero shortly thereafter. Kerry Schott, the departing chair of the Energy Security Board, one of the nation’s four regulatory authorities, is making similar remarks.
Joining the chorus is Malcolm Turnbull’s former top bureaucrat, Martin Parkinson, who says, with a straight face no less, that “We can very rapidly decarbonise the electricity market at zero cost to 70 per cent, and at mild cost to 90 per cent.”
Chalked up to replace Australia’s coal and gas are renewables with their proven record of high cost and low reliability. Due to subsidies these already comprise a lost fifth of supply. Energy Minister Angus Taylor, aware of the political dynamite from a transparent carbon tax, seeks to placate the greenhouse gods with subsidies for extracting hydrogen from water. At least this has the benefit of novelty, as Jonathan Swift reserved the notion of harvesting sunbeams from cucumbers some time ago. Hydrogen will no doubt continue to be promoted as the latest green miracle — there are billions of dollars in grants and subsidies to be snaffled, as the ABC reports:
Premier Dominic Perrottet says a hydrogen strategy unveiled by the NSW government that aims to help the state hit net zero emissions by 2050 is “world-leading”.
The strategy provides up to $3 billion in incentives for green hydrogen production, including tax exemptions, and includes plans for a “hydrogen refuelling highway” between Melbourne and Brisbane.
The truth is that hydrogen cannot be transported through the gas pipeline network and, as even the US Department of Energy acknowledges, there are a host of other technical obstacles and imponderables. If history is any guide, hydrogen is now being blessed with the same unquestioning optimism formerly bestowed on “carbon capture and storage” which, after 15 years of trials, is yet to see commercial relevance anywhere in the world.
The government is offering blandishments to the Nationals in the form of hand-outs for the bush. By all accounts all but a handful of Coalition MPs, led by Matt Canavan, have been seduced by such reprehensible deals.
FAKE ‘President Biden recently announced ambitious plans to install huge offshore industrial wind facilities along America’s Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coasts. His goal is to churn out 30 gigawatts (30,000 megawatts) of wind capacity by 2030, ensuring the U.S. “leads by example” in fighting the “climate crisis.”
Granted “30 by 2030” is clever PR. But what are the realities?
The only existing U.S. offshore wind operation features five 6-MW turbines off Rhode Island. Their combined capacity (what they could generate if they worked full-bore, round the clock 24/7) is 30 MW. Mr. Biden is planning 1,000 times more offshore electricity, perhaps split three ways: 10,000 MW for each coast.
While that might sound impressive, it isn’t. It means total wind capacity for the entire Atlantic coast, under Biden’s plan, would only meet three-fourths of the peak summertime electricity needed to power New York City. Again, this assumes the blades are fully spinning 24/7. In reality, such turbines would be lucky to be operating a top capacity half the time. Even less as storms and salt spray corrode the turbines, year after year.
The reason why is there is often minimal or no wind in the Atlantic – especially on the hottest days. Ditto for the Gulf of Mexico. No wind means no electricity – right when you need it most.
Of course, too little wind isn’t the only issue. Other times, there’s too much wind – as when a hurricane roars up the coast. That’s more likely in the Gulf of Mexico. But the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 had Category 4 winds in Virginia, Category 3 intensity off Cape Hatteras (NC), Long Island and Rhode Island, and Category 2 when it reached Maine. It sank four U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships.
When storms or hurricanes hit, turbines can be destroyed. Repairing or replacing hundreds of offshore turbines could take years.
If the White House is planning to generate all that power using common 6-MW turbines, our coastlines would need a hefty 5,000 of the 600-foot tall monsters dotting them. The Washington Monument is 655 feet tall.
Going instead with 12-MW turbines, like the 850-foot-tall GE Haliade-X turbines Virginia is planning to install off its coast, America would still need 2,500 of the behemoths – just to complete Phase One of Biden’s plan. 30,000 megawatts by 2030. Even if these were all plopped in the Atlantic, it still would not be enough to meet New York State’s current electricity needs.
And what about the environment?
How many millions of tons of steel, copper, lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements, concrete, petroleum-based composites (for turbine blades) and other raw materials would be required to manufacture and install the turbines and undersea electrical cables, especially where deep-water turbines are involved?
How many billions of tons of ore would have to be mined, crushed, processed and refined – considering that it takes 125,000 tons of average ore for every 1,000 tons of pure copper metal?
Not only would nearly all of this mining and manufacturing require fossil fuels, but much of it would be done in China, or in other countries by Chinese-owned companies. Haliade-X turbines are also manufactured in China. And much of the mining and processing is done under horrid workplace safety and environmental conditions, often with near-slave and child labor.
More turbines will also kill countless birds and bats. Turbine infrasound and other noise have been implicated in disorienting and stranding whales and dolphins. The numbers, height and low-frequency turbine noise also interferes with surface ships, submarines, aircraft and radar.
Nuclear power or billions of batteries (or retained fossil fuel power plants) will have to back up every megawatt of intermittent, unreliable wind power, so that society can function every time the wind fails. That means more raw materials, transmission lines and costs.
Even with massive taxpayer subsidies, electricity generated by offshore turbines will cost many times what we are paying today, even in New York and California. That will have especially heavy impacts on energy-intensive industries, hospitals, and poor, middle-class, minority and fixed-income families.
Economic, environmental and climate justice reviews must fully, carefully and honestly assess every one of these factors. No “expedited” or “climate emergency” shortcuts should be permitted.
President Biden likes to say offshore wind energy is clean, green, renewable and sustainable. Wind itself certainly is. But harnessing the wind (or sun), to meet the needs of modern civilization is not – especially in ocean environments.
Claiming otherwise is a mirage – a scam. Maybe that’s why the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management already canceled two wind projects off Long Island. The costs and impacts are enormous, and local opposition was high. Do climate activists in and out of the Biden Administration expect otherwise anywhere else?
Biden and his political mates around the world are simply following the bidding of the CCP. That’s one reason why they had to get rid of President Trump! This crazy Net Zero 2050 is their target to ruin the West and make us all slaves to the CCP. Conspiracy theory? NOT!! However, as a Bible believing Christian my hope isn’t in politicians but in the Lord Jesus Christ! Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
‘The Ominous Outlook for 2050
There are two different visions out there of what the world ought to look like in 2050. One of them is called Net Zero, which says that within three decades the world must all but eliminate fossil fuel use, and get carbon dioxide emissions down to zero, net of the amount plants and trees absorb. So many politicians, business leaders, bankers and academics around the world are calling for Net Zero that you might think it’s solidly based on science.
But it’s not. Many experts dispute the necessity of this 2050 plan and indeed its feasibility. They say the worst case scenario for the impacts of climate change over the coming 30 years won’t be nearly as costly as the impact of getting rid of fossil fuels. They say trying to get to net zero in such a short time could destroy our prosperity and weaken us internationally. And they say we couldn’t get there even if we tried.
Despite these objections, and with virtually no public debate, governments throughout the western world are embracing the goal of net zero by 2050 and are preparing to impose the target, regardless of the costs. They’re not interested in the vision of cautious, evidence-based, adaptation to what the future brings.
Which funnily enough isn’t even the other vision I want to talk about. You see, there’s yet another, very different idea of what the world should look like in 2050 that you may not have heard of. It’s not exactly a secret, but Western governments and journalists ignore it just as they ignore skepticism about Net Zero.
This other vision is called The Hundred Year Marathon. And it’s like a mirror image of Net Zero, because it’s the Chinese Politburo’s elaborate and ambitious scheme to build up their nation’s economy and its global power so that by 2049, the hundredth anniversary of Mao Zedong’s seizure of power, China will be the world’s dominant superpower.
Then, starting in 2050, the ideology that guides the Chinese Communist Party will spread around the globe, achieving what they like to call “harmony” though a better name would be “world domination”.
You might be tempted to dismiss this warning as paranoia, some kind of warmed-over “Red scare”. But while Chinese leaders are careful not to say much to the rest of the world, they talk openly about this ambition among themselves. The plans are found in high-level speeches and strategy documents, and the implementation is progressing around the world, step-by-step, right in plain sight, including the so-called “Belt and Road Initiative” and the not-so-green investment in coal plants in many Third World nations as well as at home. But most Westerners still know nothing about it and find it hard to believe such a plan could even exist, let alone succeed.
Unfortunately, the truth is that these two apparently disconnected visions of 2050 are two sides of the same coin. They both lead us to the same place, with the west hobbled and weak, and China powerful and dominant. And if our governments don’t know it, don’t want to hear about it, the Chinese government certainly does. I’m John Robson and this is a Climate Discussion Nexus Backgrounder on the Ominous Outlook for 2050.
First of all, let me assure you I’m not saying “climate change” is a communist plot. Or a globalist plot. Or a what have you plot. Climate change alarmism isn’t not a plot at all, even if it is mistaken. The whole discussion of carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect arose in Europe in the 1800s out of scientific inquiry, and lots of people believe in it sincerely, and it’s appropriate and necessary that we, in free societies, have a lively legitimate debate about its meaning and importance. Including the necessity and practicality of Net Zero.
But we also need to have a discussion about the geopolitical implications of the green agenda, and the illegitimate uses to which it can be put. Including the strange coincidence that a global political movement has arisen that uses the threat of climate change to impose an agenda on the Western world that fits neatly with what The Hundred Year Marathon seeks to do. If it is a coincidence.
You’ll notice, the endless chatter about “Net Zero” never seems to include China. They’re building hundreds of coal-fired power plants at home and abroad, buying up oil reserves around the world, including here in Canada, and they’re ramping up their economy as fast as humanly possible without regard for the human cost including due to real pollution as well as the “carbon” kind. And they have politely but firmly told the world to go jump in the South China Sea whenever discussion of global climate policy comes up. Except not always politely.
Sure they like to brag about the occasional solar panel they put up, or their internal carbon trading shell game, and last fall President Xi Jinping made noises to the UN about cutting emissions. That kind of talk always wins them praise from credulous western environmentalists. But the reality is, net zero is a western preoccupation and China isn’t part of it.
When I say “China” I don’t mean the geographical entity, of course. Nor do I mean the people who live there. It’s standard shorthand for a political organization called the Chinese Communist Party or CCP that rules China and its people in a thoroughly undemocratic, brutal manner.
The CCP was formed in 1921, and after decades of military insurgency it won control of China in 1949 under the leadership of Mao Zedong. It is an authoritarian communist movement that aspires to be totalitarian and control all aspects of the lives of the Chinese people including their thinking. It now has about 90 million members, but not because it’s popular. Because you pretty much have to be a Party member to have a significant job in Chinese business or government. Until the Party turns on you, that is. And then there’s nowhere to hide, no matter how important, rich or well-connected you seemed to be. There’s no such thing as free speech in China, or separation of powers, or rule of law, or private property, or security of any kind. Westerners by and large have no idea how powerful the CCP is.
For instance, China does not have a military the way normal countries do. Instead the so-called “Peoples’ Liberation Army” is the military wing of the Chinese Communist Party. Imagine the hoo-hah if Donald Trump had proposed having the US Army swear an oath of loyalty to the Republican Party instead of the US Constitution. But that’s what the CCP has done, and it now has the largest military in the world as its private enforcers.
China also does not have an independent court system, of course. Judges in China are CCP officials whose sole loyalty is to the Party if they know what’s good for them. The CCP controls the school system, the media, the universities, the internet, all local municipal governments, and of course the central government in Beijing. Leaders in any of those systems have to swear loyalty to the CCP and its ideology to hold their positions. What’s more, all Chinese companies are effectively branches of the state including under the National Intelligence Law that makes enterprises like, say Huawei, explicitly tentacles of Beijing’s espionage.
It’s not accidental and it’s not because of any external threat and there is no intention of reforming it. China made a show of moving towards democracy in the 1990s, just long enough to win a membership in the World Trade Organization in 2001. But what was really going on internally was a purge of reformers in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
By the time Xi Jinping took power in 2012 the hardliners had cemented their control. And in 2013 Chairman Xi delivered a confidential speech called Document Number 9, which outlines the seven “false ideologies” that the CCP must repress at all costs: Western-style constitutional democracy, the belief in ‘universal values’, civil society (or individual rights), free market economics, independent journalism, ‘historical nihilism’ (i.e. questioning Maoist doctrine), and anything that undermines the socialist nature of China.
In that speech he also referred to “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. According to China expert Michael Pillsbury, this is code for righting the historical wrongs that have prevented China from reaching its destiny of being the dominant nation in the world. They don’t simply want to be successful, to be secure, to be an equal and respected partner in a multipolar world. They believe in the saying attributed to Confucius that “there can only be one sun up in the sky.” There can only be one dominant superpower.
According to this chauvinistic, belligerent and frankly rather weird reading of history, China was destined to fill that role until its humiliation by the aggressive west in the 1800s. But by 2049 they will have righted that wrong and completed their rejuvenation. Or died trying. Along with anyone who gets in their way.
Delusions of grandeur, you might say. As we said of the Soviet Union and before that Hitler. Yes, I’m putting on that annoying historian’s mortar-board again and saying we’ve been there, we’ve done that and, you’d think, got the point. Instead while we’ve spent decades praising the CCP’s quest for social justice, building statues of Norman Bethune and praising Pierre Trudeau’s youthful visit to China, and indeed taking pity on China as a poor, weak developing nation to whom believe it or not Canada still sends foreign aid, they’ve become the world’s top producer and user of energy, steel, cement and chemical fertilizer (like Khrushchev’s U.S.S.R. before them with similar ambitions). They own over a trillion dollars’ worth of US government debt, they control over 90 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals which gives them effective control over global electronics production, they took over the mobile phone infrastructure in Africa and are seeking dominance over the new 5G global communications network, and through that Belt-and-Road Initiative they have been acquiring vast amounts of transportation infrastructure around the world.
The reach of the CCP is astonishing. They own Pirelli tires, Syngenta chemicals, 40 percent of the Philippines’ national electricity system, and ports in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Greece, Bilbao, Valencia, Panama, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua and elsewhere. In Canada they own Nexen Inc., one of Canada’s major oil and gas companies. And the Canadian government still hasn’t formally barred Huawei from the 5G network’s key infrastructure, the only one of the “Five Eyes” still determined to see no evil here.
And bear in mind, we’re not talking about individual Chinese investors buying assets. These are Chinese state-owned, state dominated enterprises, all under the control of the CCP. No Chinese firm is independent of the Politburo no matter what the share certificates or formal laws say. What Chairman Xi wants, Chairman Xi takes, with the People’s Liberation Army to back him up.
Well, it’s not to stop climate change, that’s for sure. Throughout this drive for world domination in the name of communist dictatorship, which following Confucius’ policy of the “rectification of names” is exactly what it should be called, their use of fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, have soared, making them the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases by a very wide margin that grows wider every day.
Which brings us back to the climate issue. Because a strange thing about Net Zero is that it was never really discussed anywhere, or voted on. It just one day seemed to become the policy of every government, everywhere. Except China, which is applauding us for it while moving relentlessly the other way.
Net Zero has even recently and rather suddenly been embraced by the global financial system. Groups like the World Bank and major private banks have all announced they won’t lend any more money to big fossil fuel-based energy projects, even in developing countries, including coal-fired power plants. Whereas China will.
And as numerous authors have documented, top leaders in the global finance sphere have been the targets for decades of careful, sophisticated influence campaigns run out of Beijing.
Hold on a minute, I know what you’re about to say: this is all conspiracy-mongering, which you told us not to do. Besides surely it’s just a coincidence. But we already know that Russia operates this way, funding European green groups who have all but shut down energy development in the EU, forcing them to be utterly dependent on Russian gas exports. It stands to reason that China would use the same strategy. It’s not a conspiracy, they talk about it among themselves. And these days China’s resources vastly exceed those of Russia which, for all Putin’s thuggish delusions of grandeur, has been described with some justice as “a gas station for China.”
So how does this work? Well, as Toronto-based researcher Patricia Adams has documented, western green groups have been conspicuous in their fondness for the ruthless Chinese government. While everyone else has been growing increasingly alarmed at the proliferation of concentration camps, slave labour factories, crushing free speech including in Hong Kong and all the other hallmarks of totalitarian repression under the CCP, even genocide of the Uighur Muslims, environmental groups are conspicuously glowing about the Chinese leadership. As Adams says:
The big exceptions – those who have yet to have their eyes opened to the dangers posed by the CCP – are Western environmentalists and their funders. Rather than becoming cautious about China’s role in the world, these groups lavish it with praise for its environmental efforts
So do you think it’s just coincidence that, as Adams notes, some $330 million worth of funding for North American green groups can be traced to one single source, Energy Foundation China, which is managed by Ji Zou, a long-time senior official in the Chinese government?
Zou, as a paymaster for the Western environmentalists, decides what projects to fund, enabling him to effectively solicit work desired by his former employers in Beijing from the Western environmental organizations, who give it their imprimatur of legitimacy.
Still, let’s keep the rose-coloured blinders on and say it’s all just a coincidence. It’s still remarkable, and worrisome, how it all happens to work to the CCP’s advantage. Where does the Net Zero doctrine leave developing countries who need to build up their electricity grids? China is now the only place most of them can look to for funding. And it’s a role China has enthusiastically embraced, since the terms they impose on the recipients lock in their control over those governments for decades to come.
Consider BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest financial firm with $6.5 trillion in assets under management. In 2019 its President, Larry Fink, announced a plan to ensure the company’s future growth by aggressively expanding in China. To do this he recruited a team of talented financial executives, headed by Tang Xiaodong, a banker and former Chinese government official, to lead BlackRock’s Chinese operations. And right on schedule, Fink just announced they’re going to use their massive financial clout to force companies they own to commit to net zero by 2050, or face being cut off from financing.
Will BlackRock apply this rule to CCP-controlled enterprises, or the entire Chinese economy for that matter? Dream on. Once again, it’s only western companies that will be strangled and tossed in a ditch, after being plundered of their proprietary technology, while BlackRock and the CCP cash in on unrestrained growth in China driven by fossil fuels.
In other countries though, there is a conspicuous connection between governments being overly friendly with China and imposing Net Zero on themselves. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his former Ambassador to China John McCallum have been positively giddy over the regime in Beijing, although McCallum did eventually have to be fired when his handling of a diplomatic row with China caused the Canadian press to wonder aloud where his loyalties lay because he was giving the Chinese advice on how to defeat the Canadian government, in public. Meanwhile Trudeau has, of course, announced that Canada is committing to Net Zero by 2050, notwithstanding the fact that it will wipe out our oil and gas sector and may split our country, while China is allowed to grow theirs without limit or reproach.
In the UK, where Net Zero is now gospel, connections between the CCP and the social elite are particularly deep. The 48 Group Club is a Who’s Who of top UK government, banking, university and industry elite who regularly rub shoulders with a select group of high-ranking current and former Chinese officials, ostensibly for the purpose of developing trade relationships and business deals. But as Hamilton and Ohlberg detail in Hidden Hand, the 48 Group Club has really become an organ for the Chinese government to influence British public opinion and politics through their uncritical repetition of CCP propaganda.
In a scathing conclusion, Hamilton and Ohlberg write:
In our judgment, so entrenched are the CCP’s influence networks among British elites that Britain has passed the point of no return, and any attempt to extricate itself from Beijing’s orbit would probably fail.
Well, I say try anyway. Especially if it’s all just a coincidence and those nice Chinese government agents are plying westerners with money and flattery, and sometimes other favours as well, out of the stunning benevolence of their hearts. But before accepting that preposterous assertion, or trying to hand me a tin foil hat, ask yourself this question: Suppose the CCP really did hatch the scheme of using its global influence networks to push Net Zero by 2050 on the rest of us as an integral part of its Hundred Year Marathon strategy. How would the outcome look any different from what’s been happening?
If the answer is that it wouldn’t, it’s either a plot or it’s a plan that’s getting a lot of venal, ideological or simply careless support from our side. Remember, Lenin didn’t say that the useful idiots were cynics, but he did say they were fools.
Whatever the cause, the world is traveling on two paths towards 2050. And while they seem unrelated, with one all about saving the planet from supposed climate doom and the other a dark totalitarian ambition to rule the world, they converge in a remarkable spot where the West is hobbled economically, politically and militarily by climate alarmism and its misguided schemes to slash energy abundance and squash economic growth, while China’s communist regime secures unchallenged global economic, military and ideological dominance.
The two visions are stereoscopic. Even if you close one eye, or the other, you see the same picture. But I want nothing to do it. I say it’s time to open our eyes wide and see what’s in front of us, surprisingly close, big and ominous.
Would the media lie to us? ‘During the Texas blackout corporate media outlets couldn’t publish their fictional stories fast enough. “Wind and solar were not the problem!” declared the New York Times, USA Today, ABC News, the Associated Press, NPR, and countless others. The media outlets that shamelessly shill for a renewable energy nirvana can always be counted on to misinform.
The media proclaimed that wind and solar weren’t the problem because these unreliable sources aren’t expected to produce much power during winter months in the first place. That’s a small truth wrapped in a big fat lie. From February 8 to the 16th electricity output from wind was down 93 percent. On the two most critical days of the freeze, the 15th and 16th, wind power was almost non-existent. However, it is true this pitiful performance was not a major factor in the outages. That bit of truth created a window for deception.
According to our corporate media, the blackouts were caused by failures in natural gas, coal, and nuclear generation. Again, a tiny truth wrapped in a whopper of a lie. Yes, there were frozen pipes and a number of other glitches. However, the frozen pipe problem was largely caused by Ercot, the company that runs the grid. As Ercot cut power to protect the grid from damage, it cut off electricity to natural gas production and processing units. With no power to pressurize the pipes, they froze. This was a management failure, not a problem with natural gas-fired power. In spite of Ercot’s mismanagement of the system, natural gas delivered 450 percent more power from the 8th to the 16th. Yes, 450 percent more. And, this happened even as natural gas providers were delivering a record amount of gas to residents for home heating.
I could go on and on about grid mismanagement before and during the crisis. For example, Ercot allowed some coal and natural gas generators to go offline for maintenance even as weather forecasters were warning about the historic dimension of the big freeze. But talking about these issues distracts us from the giant problems that have been building up in Texas for more than 15 years.
What wind and solar advocates in the mainstream press ignore (or probably don’t even know) is that the electric grid demands a high level of consistency. It operates within a narrow margin at 60 hertz. If power is even .5 percent above or below 60 Hz the grid begins to fail. Wind and solar are wildly erratic. The large swings in power output test grid operators ability to maintain this small operating space. Dealing with the inconsistent nature of wind and solar is a manageable problem when they provide a small percentage of the power supply. But Texas has increased its wind generation from 2.9 percent in 2007 to 25 percent today. Solar went from next to nothing to 2.38 percent. That’s an enormous amount of unreliability for a grid that demands precision.
The only way to manage this problem is to maintain a large reserve margin of power that can be called upon at a moment’s notice. When electricity from wind and solar drop quickly as they regularly do, reserve power from natural gas fills the gap. A healthy reserve margin is 15 percent. But with wind claiming such a large percentage of generation in Texas, a larger margin (i.e. 25 percent) would be prudent. The reserve margin in Texas is only about 7.5 percent.
Setting mismanagement aside, this is the key problem with the Texas grid. There’s too much erratic wind and solar and not nearly enough reliable baseload power from coal, nuclear, and natural gas. The reserve margin should be at least doubled and probably tripled to accommodate unreliable wind and solar that are already part of the system. Understanding this reality takes some research and deeper thinking, but our corporate media are either not interested or are incapable of learning about the technical aspects of how the electrical grid functions.
Now that Sleepy Joe the Renewable salesman is in office the fun begins!
‘New York City will soon be home to the world’s biggest industrial-scale battery system. It’s designed to back up the city’s growing reliance on intermittent “renewable” electricity. At 400 megawatt-hours (MWh), this cluster of batteries will be more than triple the 129 MWh world leader in Australia.
Mark Chambers, NYC’s Director of Sustainability (I am not making this title up), is ecstatic. “Expanding battery storage is a critical part of how we advance momentum to confront the climate emergency,” he brags,” while meeting the energy needs of all New Yorkers. Today’s announcement demonstrates how we can deliver this need at significant scale.”[Emphasis added]
In the same nonsensical way, Tim Cawley, president of Con Edison, New York state’s power utility, gushes thus: “Utility-scale battery storage will play a vital role in New York’s clean energy future, especially in New York City, where it will help to maximize the benefit of the wind power being developed offshore.”
In reality, the scale here is vanishingly insignificant. The official enthusiasm puts the Con in Con Edison. (And few New Yorkers and other East Coast residents are going to tolerate thousands of 850-foot-tall wind turbines off their shores. People don’t want them in their onshore backyards either.)
When it comes to the scale needed to reliably back up unreliable pretend-renewable electricity generation– and keep business, industry, social media and civilization functioning – New York’s and America’s policy makers need to start living in the Real World. Otherwise blackouts will become common.
For simplicity, let’s suppose New York City is 100% wind powered. (Including solar in the generating mix makes it more complicated but does not change the unhappy outcome very much.)
NYC currently peaks at around 13,000 MW – just to keep the city running. If Mr. Biden makes all the cars and trucks electric, total demand could eventually hit 20,000 MW. But let’s stick to present day reality.
This peak occurs because of enormous air conditioning demand during summer heat waves, which is bad enough. But to make matters even worse, those heat waves are caused by stagnant high pressure systems called Bermuda highs. These highs often last for a week and because they involve stagnant air masses – and an absence of breezes – there is no wind power generation.
Wind turbines require something like sustained winds of 10 mph to move the blades and more like a whistling 30 mph to generate full power. During a Bermuda high, folks are happy to get the occasional 5 mph breeze. These huge highs cover many states, so it is not like we can get the juice from next door.
So for reliability we need, say, seven days of backup: 168 hours. Here’s the math:
13,000 MW x 168 hours = 2,184,000 MWh of stored juice needed to just make it. Mind you, for normal reliability we usually add 20% or so as a safety measure. Did I mention electric cars? Replacing natural gas with electricity for cooking, water heating and other needs? Charging all those batteries? Maybe they need to add 40% to account for emergency circumstances. But let’s ignore that for now.
It is easy to see that 400 MWh is not “significant scale.” It is trivial, infinitesimal scale. Virtually nothing.
Nada. It might as well not exist. It might be enough to power Gracie Mansion and City government offices during a summer heat wave, but that’s about it.
More specifically, 2,184,000 divided by 400 = 5,460. That means New York City just needs another 5,459 additional battery clusters to meet those peak needs.
On the other hand, this measly 400 MWh battery array may well cost half a billion dollars, which is significant, especially to the New Yorkers who will pay for it. No cost figures were given, because the system is privately owned.
However, the Energy Information Administration says the average utility scale battery system runs around $1.5 million per MWh of storage capacity. That works out to $600 million for this insignificant climate-obsessing toy.
So what would it cost to reliably back up wind power, at this MWh cost and NYC scale? Just over $3,000,000,000,000. THREE TRILLION DOLLARS! I have not seen this stupendous sum reported in the media. Perhaps Con Ed has not mentioned it. They certainly know about it.
But hey, maybe the cost will come down a trillion – though not if we create a seller’s market by rushing into intermittent renewables, which is certainly where we are headed. After all, this is just New York City. Imagine what backing up America with batteries might cost. Don’t bother because it is impossible.
I should also add that we have no idea how to make 2 million MWh of batteries work together. The tiny 400 will be a challenge. Millions of megawatt hours on demand may not be possible.
Then too, New York State has the same problem. Only much bigger if New York City is included, which it often is. New York State peaks at about 32,000 MW, which works out to 5,376,000 MWh of stored juice at a cost of EIGHT TRILLION DOLLARS for enough batteries to make 100% wind reliable. And again, this is without phasing in electric cars and trucks, phasing out gas heat, a 20% reserve, etc.
Note that New York State has a law saying they will build at least 3,000 MWh of batteries over the next decade. Like NYC’s grand 400 MWh battery system, this is as nothing compared to what is needed to keep the lights on. Nor does the New York Power Authority mention the many trillions of dollars needed to make renewables reliable.
All of this battery backup hype is a scam, and not just in New York. The papers are full of this con, from coast to coast. Solar plus batteries or wind plus batteries, as though the batteries mattered, when they do not. The utilities know perfectly well that these loudly touted battery buys are a hoax, but they are getting rich building the mandated and subsidized wind and solar systems the politicians are calling for. Adding a trivial battery makes it sound like renewables work. Which they don’t.
On a larger scale, consider PJM. This is the electric power coordinating group of utilities that oversees the central part of the Eastern USA (not including New York State). Its primary mission is system reliability, so it should be very interested in this impossible battery-cost problem. This includes big cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington DC
PJM peaks at around 150,000 MW, so a week of backup battery juice is 25,200,000 MWh. At $1,500,000 per MWh, that is just under a mere THIRTY-EIGHT TRILLION DOLLARS! This too is without electrifying all our fossil fueled cars, trucks, buildings, appliances and whatever else the climate emergency central planners can think of. Yet PJM says not a mumbling word about the impossibility of delivering reliability using all renewables and batteries.
Note that PJM plus New York is $46 billion and this is just a small part of America. The voters are oblivious to these impossible numbers, since they are repeatedly told that intermittent wind and solar are cheaper than reliable coal, gas and nuclear. Only when the sun shines bright and the wind blows hard, which is not all that often.
Maybe fracked geothermal, the reliable renewable, is the answer. Or how about reliable coal, oil, gas and nuclear power? Too bad they are all out of fashion.
‘You know the wind and solar industries are in trouble when they’re reduced to muttering about humongous batteries saving their bacon.
Around the world, renewable energy rent-seekers have been furiously peddling the myth that mega-batteries are a free and easy solution to the hopeless intermittency of weather-dependent wind and solar.
The line goes that giant banks of lithium ion cells can store ‘free and abundant’ wind and solar power, whenever the sun is up and the wind is blowing (just right). Then, at absolutely zero cost to power consumers, these monster grid-scale batteries can lovingly release groovy ‘green’ power at any time that businesses and households need it.
Back in 2017, South Australia, Australia’s wind power capital, squandered $150 million on one of Elon Musk’s creations, that would power the state for all of 4 minutes when the wind stops blowing and/or the sun goes down.
Giant lithium ion batteries are touted as the antidote to the inherent chaos that comes with attempting to rely on sunshine and breezes; bringing stability and security to a grid on the brink of collapse.
What would make a politician want to destroy their own nation? I suppose there are numerous reasons why but one way those in the USA and Australia are seeking to do it is through so-called renewable energy such as wind and solar. In Australia electricity prices were once the lowest in the world due to the abundance of cheap coal BUT no longer is that the case as coal is a dirty word. Now in the good ole USA ‘Joe Biden’s plan to carpet America wall-to-wall with 60,000 wind turbines and millions of solar panels comes with a staggering cost, and it’s America’s poor that will pay the heaviest price for the Democrat’s delusional energy policy.
The only thing guaranteed about subsidising wind and solar is rocketing power prices and unreliable electricity. Ask a German, Dane or South Australian.
In a country still reeling from the economic havoc caused by political responses to the coronavirus, the last thing Americans need is to increase the cost of living and doing business.
But that’s precisely what’s coming, as Brian Leyland and Tom Harris contend below.
Bryan Leyland MSc, DistFEngNZ, FIMechE, FIEE (rtd), MRSNZ, is a Power Systems engineer with more than 60 years’ experience in New Zealand and overseas. Tom Harris, M. Eng, is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.
Biden’s Energy Plans Are Expensive—and Dangerous PJ Media – Brian Leyland and Tom Harris 19 December 2020
Joe Biden wants the electric grid of the United States to be powered solely by energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide by 2035. In the Unity Task Force plan that the former vice-president released with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the commitment is made that:
Within five years, we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 made-in-America wind turbines.
Overhauling the entire electric grid, which some call the world’s largest machine, and converting much of it to wind and solar power, is not just a momentous task. It is both dangerous and unbelievably expensive. The only reason Biden has been able to get away with such a preposterous plan is that many people actually believe that wind and solar power are cheaper than fossil fuel-powered generation. They conclude that a transition to a system supplied by wind and solar power will reduce consumer costs. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Instead of blindly accepting the Biden/Sanders energy fantasy, the public should ask the obvious question: “If wind and solar are so cheap, then why do they still need direct and indirect subsidies?”
The fact is that they are not cheap at all once all the costs that they impose on the power system are taken into account. Let’s examine this more closely.
Wind and solar power are intermittent and unpredictable and must be backed up by existing or new power stations or storage facilities that can rapidly change output to compensate for the fluctuating supplies from wind and solar power. That usually means natural gas back-up stations. Even environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told the 2010 annual conference of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association:
For all of these big utility scale power plants, whether it’s wind or solar, everybody is looking at gas as the supplementary fuel. The plants that we’re building, the wind plants and the solar plants are [supported by] gas plants.
Other problems are the need for inertia (flywheel effect) that is required to stabilize the system frequency and for voltage support to stop the lights going dim. Both of these are provided by conventional generators but not by wind and solar power.
For various reasons, 1,000 kilowatts (kW) of wind or solar power seldom produces more than 800 kW. On average, wind produces about one-third of its theoretical energy output (measured in kilowatt-hours – kWh) and solar power less than one-sixth. As a result, much more installed capacity plus energy storage facilities are needed to match the output of a conventional 1,000 kW station. It is the cost of this extra capacity and energy storage that kills the economics of wind and solar power.
One way of establishing the real cost of wind and solar power is to compare the cost of supplying all the electricity needed by a system with no connections to other power systems. Let’s consider the cost of supplying all the electricity needed by a power system with a peak demand of 4,000 megawatts (MW) and an energy demand of 19,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh), which is typical of most power systems.
We start by assuming that five days of storage would be needed to cover a series of cloudy days in winter or five days of little wind. So, we need to calculate the costs associated with storage by batteries or by hydro-pumped storage (in which excess power is used to pump water into a reservoir which then drains through hydraulic turbines producing electricity when the primary system lacks sufficient power to supply the grid). One then discovers that the solar power option would need 16,000 MW of solar capacity + 9,000 MW of battery capacity and the all-in cost would be 38 US¢/kWh. The wind power option would need 7,000 MW of wind and 2,250 MW of storage capacity to give a final cost of 34¢/kWh.
For comparison, the typical North American cost for combined-cycle natural gas generation is 5¢/kWh.
The solar option would occupy about 650 square miles of land and the wind option would occupy over 1,600 square miles. The environmental effects cannot be ignored. In many countries, the pumped storage option is likely to be opposed by environmentalists and it may not be feasible anyway because of the lack of sites that can accommodate two large storage lakes a short distance apart with one several hundred meters above the other.
The reality is that Biden’s ambitions for large-scale, low-cost solar or wind power cannot possibly be achieved by 2035, or even 2050, because of the huge numbers of wind turbines and solar farms and new transmission capacity that would be needed, and the very high cost and the associated technical and environmental problems. At the moment, and after the expenditure of billions of dollars in subsidies, solar and wind power provide only 8% of U.S. electricity.
If governments persist, the inevitable result will be skyrocketing prices and regular blackouts. Hospitals, industry, and commerce would need to install hundreds of diesel generators to maintain operations.
The assumptions made to derive the real cost of supplying 4,000 MW of demand from wind or solar power are as follows:
A 1,000 watt ‘W’ solar cell has an average output of about 150 W, so 16,000 MW of solar power is needed to supply all the energy required by the 4,000 MW load and to compensate for the 25% losses in the energy storage system.
As a 1,000 W solar cell seldom produces more than 800 W, the effective maximum output of 16,000 MW of solar is 13,000 MW.
As the load on the power system can only absorb 4,000 MW, the storage system must be able to absorb the remaining 9,000 MW.
The storage capacity has to be able to provide 264 GWh needed in wintertime when there are likely to be five days of cloudy weather and the solar output is negligible. At the current $US200/kWh this amounts to over $US 50 billion. By way of comparison, the largest battery in the world at Hornsdale in Australia can store 130 MWh. Two thousand of them would be needed to store the 264,000 MWh needed for a reliable supply to the 4,000 MW load. This battery capacity is equivalent to all the batteries in all the electric cars in the world.
The conclusion is that about 25,000 MW of solar plus storage capacity is needed to supply the 4,000 MW demand! If batteries are used to provide five days of storage, the total cost is in the region of $70 billion, which explains the very high cost of providing a reliable supply from solar power.
Wind power that has an average output of 35% of its installed capacity is better but does not lead to a large reduction in price because the battery cost dominates.
Solar power with hydro-pumped storage is less expensive—an overall cost of 23¢/kWh, but still almost five-times the cost in the U.S. for combined-cycle natural gas generation. But hydro-pumped storage is impractical in most areas for the reason cited above.
From a greenhouse gas point of view, wind and solar power are horribly expensive. Carbon dioxide emissions are currently valued at about $30/tonne while calculations show that the carbon dioxide avoided by policy focused on wind and solar power would cost more than $1,400 per tonne.
When all the options are examined, the conclusion is that the best way to eliminate emissions of carbon dioxide from power generation is safe and reliable nuclear power supplemented by a relatively small amount of pumped storage. So, at least Biden’s support for nuclear and hydropower makes sense. But don’t expect ant-nuclear activists in the extreme left of the Democratic Party to allow this to happen.
The power disaster unfolding in California gives a good preview of what is in store for America as a whole if Biden succeeds in his goal of sweeping away fossil fuel-generated power and replacing it with wind and solar. Power outages are now commonplace in the Golden State, which suffered its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years last summer. Indeed, with 4,297 power outages between 2008 and 2017, California led the nation in this category (Texas was a distant second with 1,603).
Governor Newsom admitted that there was not enough wind power to compensate for the drop in solar power due to cloud cover and nightfall. The Los Angeles Times reported:
… gas-burning power plants that can fire up when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing have been shutting down in recent years, and California has largely failed to replace them …
The result is that California has fallen thousands of megawatts behind its needs.
Joe Biden said in his climate change plan:
Getting to a 100% clean energy economy is not only an obligation, it’s an opportunity. We should fully adopt a clean energy future, not just for all of us today, but for our children and grandchildren, so their tomorrow is healthier, safer, and more just.
If Biden actually does what he tells us he plans to do, life will be dismal indeed for our children and grandchildren. It will be a highly unjust future in which all those except the wealthy will lack the energy to be healthy and safe and will simply be left freezing in the dark.
Are we in the West so ignorant or blind that we cannot see that the CCP is manipulating almost every facet of our future?!
‘The chief beneficiary of the incoming Biden administration’s climate agenda will be none other than the People’s Republic of China, the same outfit that brought the world COVID-19.
Purveyors of renewable energy are eager to take advantage of Biden’s pledge to move the U.S. from fossil fuels to renewable energy and are already taking legal action to smooth the transition. On December 29, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and solar-power developers, including NextEra Energy Inc. and Invenergy Renewables LLC, asked the U.S. Court of International Trade to issue an injunction prohibiting an October proclamation by President Trump that raised tariffs on imported solar equipment.
The Trump proclamation removed a tariff exemption on two-sided, or bifacial, solar panels, almost all of which are manufactured in China. As reported by Bloomberg (Dec. 29), the lawsuit contends the Trump administration “failed to follow the required procedures” before acting.
SEIA’s legal challenge – Solar Energy Industries Association v. U.S., 20-3941, U.S. Court of InternationalTrade (New York) – comes more than a month after a trade-court judge ruled that Trump’s proclamation to eliminate the bifacial solar panel loophole did not violate an earlier court order. But the judge in his order said that the proclamation could be challenged under a separate action. This is what SEIA and its allies are now doing.
Dependence on China
The action by the Washington lobbying group speaks volumes about renewable energy’s dependence on Chinese suppliers. Solar panels have a life expectancy of about ten years, after which they must be replaced. And because solar energy, like wind energy, is intermittent, it requires a backup source of fuel at night and on cloudy days. Domestically produced natural gas has been the backup source of choice for under- or nonperforming wind and solar facilities. But the Biden administration’s move away from fossil fuels means that increasingly batteries will fill that need. Batteries, however, along with solar panels, wind turbines, and drive trains for electric vehicles depend on critical materials sourced or processed from overseas, primarily from China. SEIA’s lawsuit all but acknowledges this.
Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. In doing so, it has broken the back of the once-mighty OPEC oil cartel. Now, with the switch to renewable energy, the U.S. runs the risk of abandoning its hard-fought energy independence. After having been dependent on OPEC oil for decades, and then freed ourselves from that dependency, we are now – in the name of “clean energy” – heading down a path that will lead to mineral dependency on China.
From a geopolitical standpoint, that is a terrible exchange. What’s more, it will have no measurable effect on the climate and – as batteries, wind turbines, and solar panels rapidly deteriorate – the shift will create a host of environmental problems in the decades to come. And the rolling brownouts and blackouts that have become commonplace in “clean-energy” leader California will spread nationwide.’https://papundits.wordpress.com/2021/01/05/u-s-solar-industry-itching-to-import-chinese-panels/
Remember, this is the power source that promises a clean, ‘green’ future! And that rural communities just can’t wait have hundreds of these things speared into their backyards. Except, of course, if those backyards belong to former Greens leaders, like Dr Bob Brown.