The facts about renewables

2GB’s Alan Jones and Liberal MP Craig Kelly yesterday (4 Feb) discussed the implications of Victoria’s power blackout last week. It was an informative discussion with detail that should be noted by anyone interested in the coming federal election. There’s a lot at stake. The ramifications of where the vote falls will be felt for years.

Without warning, 200,000 homes lost their power. My home was one of those. Seeing one’s computer suddenly black out and all appliances in the house die, provokes a strange unreal feeling. Victoria’s minister for energy Lily D’Ambrosio reportedly blamed the blackout on coal-fired power stations. That seems a strange claim when the Labor government in Victoria closed Hazelwood, the State’s coal-fired power station.

The cause of the sudden blackout, said Kelly, had nothing to do with coal-fired power stations. The problem was a drop in the wind. Given Daniel Andrew’s Labor government has forced Victorians to rely on wind and solar power for their energy, a drop in the wind always presented a risk theoretically. And so, what a primary school child could have deduced from the arrangements happened. The wind dropped on a very hot day and the system collapsed. What had happened in South Australia after the Labor Government’s destruction of their Whyalla coal-fired power station and their reliance on renewables happened in Victoria.

It does not take much brain power to predict that it will happen again when unstable renewables can’t meet the energy demand. That’s the grim warning for the other states as Labor governments supported by the Greens roll out their policy of making Australia’s power needs 50% dependent on renewables (wind and solar) by 2030.

Jones made the point he has been making for years about what he has called Australia’s ‘suicide note’. ‘If you can’t guarantee reliability, availability and affordability in energy supply, you’re in trouble.’ Blackouts incur ‘huge costs, loss of production, lost orders, loss of income and loss of jobs.’ This is a no-brainer, surely?

I urge the reader to listen to the full discussion. There are, however, a few points that I wish to highlight. First Australian governments have spent $75 billion on renewable energy in the form of wind and solar farms. How many reliable HELE ultra efficient coal-fired power stations could be built with that sort of money. Enough to serve Australia’s needs and have a pocket full of cash over.

Second , if one does a search on the prospect of building the latest coal-fired power station in Australia, you will find a lot of sneering and ridicule of the idea in the mainstream media. Hellish expensive compared with wind and solar to which investors are turning – allegedly. The fact that governments are throwing loads of cash in the form of subsidies at power companies might be an incentive, don’t you think? And what about Japan’s intention to build 45 high energy and low emissions (HELE) coal-fired plants. Who wants to sneer at the economic power house Japan has been for years? Are they as stupid as our expert journalists infer.

Third, I think most Victorians would not know that the Andrew’s Government tripled the coal royalties not long before Hazelwood’s owners threw in the towel. Finally, Craig Kelly ridiculed the claim by Victoria’s energy minister that renewables will provide jobs, boost investments across regional Victoria as well as drive down prices for businesses and families. All the jobs for renewable energy farms, said Kelly, are created in China. The only related jobs in Australia are unpacking the solar panels and cleaning them once installed. At the same time, Australia loses 2-5 jobs in the ‘real economy’ where low energy costs once gave Australia a competitive advantage.