The war against renewable energy

In the few weeks before I wrote this page there was a concerted attack on the wind and solar power installed in my home state, South Australia.

This page is my response to that, and similar, attacks carried out at different times and places by the people who run the fossil fuel industry and those who are on their payrolls; who care more about their incomes, profits, political positions and/or investments than they care about the world that will be passed onto their grandchildren, your grandchildren and mine.

This page written 2016/07/31, modified 2019/07/17 – ©
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com

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I'll say a bit about why they needed to attack and then I'll say a bit about why their attack was nonsensical.

Why should the fossil fuel lobby be attacking the renewable energy industries?

The short answer: they are terrified of renewables. The longer answer:
  1. They were starting to realise that they had lost the climate science denial argument. The evidence that the climage is changing, that the changes are due to Man's activities and that the changes are disastrous is now irrefutable. If the reader's IQ is above 50 and he has not been living in a cave for the last 20 years he would know the facts of the matter. See Why accept climate science?

    And in addition to climate change there are the related problems of ocean acidification and the millions of people who die each year due to air pollution from the burning of carbon-based fuels. Renewable energy saves lives by displacing coal-fired power.

    Coal is definitely not, as infamously claimed by one of the most stupid of Australia's Prime Ministers, "good for humanity". It can be calculated that the coal exported from Australia kills about 110,000 people each year.

  2. With only a very few years to go to 2020 when Australia must have 33 Twh of renewably generated electricity annually there is a resurgence in the building of wind farms, large-scale solar power stations are becoming run-of-the-mill and solar-thermal power stations with storage are being proposed around the country.

  3. The price of wind power has fallen substantially in the last few years (to 2017), but the price of solar photo-voltaic has fallen even more quickly. It is so low that it is now competing with wind, which is already cheaper than new coal-fired power stations and much cheaper than nuclear. See several recent wind power price agreements in Australia.

  4. Following the Paris climate change agreement in late 2015 Carbon Tracker has demonstrated that there are two trillion (that's two million million) dollars worth of fossil fuel deposits which can never be burned. That means that the market value of fossil fuel companies will have to be down-graded by two trillion dollars! The super-wealthy who run the fossil fuel industry know that there's a crunch coming, but the longer they can put off that crunch the more chance they have to get out while minimising their losses.
Of course the fossil fuel lobby is attacking the renewable energy industry. "Offence is the best means of defence."
Sheep share a hill with wind turbines
Wind turbines and sheep

Why are the claims that wind and solar power have put SA's power prices up nonsensical?

  1. The high wholesale spot power prices have only been in or around July 2016. The last significant wind farm to come online in SA was Snowtown Stage 2 back in the middle of 2014. Since then there's only been a half dozen more turbines that have come on-stream (the first few of the Hornsdale Wind Farm). People who don't care about rational argument often confuse association with causality, but in this case the claimed effect came two years after the cause – isn't that a bit much for any reasonable person to swallow?

  2. A quote from Richard Denniss of The Australia Institute:
    "The average annual wholesale price of electricity in South Australia has fallen by 40% since 2007-08. Scary isn't it. The same old bedwetters in the media and business community have been spooked by some big spikes in the spot price of electricity in South Australia. Cooler heads have highlighted that the vast majority of industrial and domestic customers are on long run contracts, that renewables sometimes push the electricity spot price below zero, and that there have been no blackouts. But facts are no fun."
    So, wholesale prices, apart from the recent anomaly of several weeks, have fallen from where they were in 2007-08, in the same period when most of SA's wind farms were built.

  3. The high spot prices in the SA Wholesale electricity market have more to do with gas prices than with wind or solar. Richard Denniss again:
    "Spot wholesale prices of gas in the Adelaide market have risen from around $3.50 to $7.50 per gigajoule in the last 18 months as a direct result of government policy to link our formerly landlocked east coast gas pipeline to the seaborne gas market."

  4. The biggest interstate electricity interconnector, which allows SA to import or export power to the eastern states was undergoing upgrading and that upgrading was held up by the wet and windy weather. This decreased the flexibility that is normally in the market.

  5. The closing of the Northern (coal-fired) Power Station at Port Augusta and limits on the interconnector reduced competition, making it easier for those who ran the gas-fired power stations to 'play the system', push up wholesale prices, and their profits.

  6. Australia's new federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg, a member of the Liberal government, which has been far from supportive of renewable energy, has said (in late July 2016) "People have to understand that this volatility is not a new thing. It was back there in 2008... so to say that (this price spike) is the fault of renewables is not an accurate assessment."

  7. Hugh Saddler wrote a piece on The Conversation explaining that "South Australia's electricity price woes are more due to gas than wind", 2016/07/25.

Spot electricity prices high in Queensland – not a wind turbine in site

In at least the first half of January 2017 spot electricity prices in Queensland (which has virtually no wind power) were about two and a half times those of the other states on the eastern Australian grid. RenewEconomy article by Rob Campbell, 2017/01/20. It was all to do with gas.

Related pages

External links...

The war against renewable energy, by Simon Copland, ABC's The Drum, 2012/01/19.

On this site...

Australia's Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, gobsmackingly dishonest.

Australia's energy future

Australia's gobsmackingly biased Energy Minister, Angus Taylor

End of coal: why the coal industry has a very limited future.


Greenhouse/climate change: the greatest threat currently facing mankind.

Hydrogen and energy

Killer coal: how the burning of coal kills millions of people world-wide each year.

Power to Gas (P2G, renewable energy used to produced hydrogen gas) in Australia.

Pumped hydro energy storage.

South Australia's energy future

Selfishness or altruism?: self or all?

South Australia's success in changing toward renewable energy

Who wants renewable energy?

Why support wind power

Which electricity generation method should Australia choose for the future?

Which would you prefer, wind energy or fossil fuels?

Wind power cost

Wind power opposition: almost universally dishonest.