More government propaganda on green energy

This week, Julie Bishop reaffirmed Australia’s support for the disastrous Paris Climate accord at the same time as Trump underlined his determination to destroy it by appointing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA.  Pruitt has been a leader in preventing the EPA from achieving its goal of a staged forced closure of coal fired generators by using the Clean Air Act.

That said, Pruitt felt compelled to trumpet his credentials as an environmentalist by letting everyone know that as Attorney General of Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plain) he had presided over a wind share of electricity at 15 per cent.  If he tries for that share nationally (comparable to that Australia’s aiming for) he would undermine the low cost energy strategy that is a central pillar of the Trump to objective to “make America great again”.   

In the climate field the next target is NASA.  Who can forget how warmist pin-up scientist Brian Cox was allowed to show a NASA doctored temperature map in a Q&A gotcha moment designed to humiliate Senator Malcolm Roberts (presently in Washington at a meeting with Myron Ebell, who heads up Trump’s EPA transition team,) 

Gavin Schmidt, who has inherited the much arrested James Hansen in heading the climate alarmist branch of NASA and has warned off Trump.  Fat chance! 

The action on the EPA adds to that targeting NASA.  Bob Walker, a former congressman and Trump’s space policy adviser, said he’d like to shrink NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs. “We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research,” he said. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.” (ironically NASA got its responsibility for monitoring the atmosphere in 1985 under President Reagan). 

One area of NASA that is unimpeachable is the global temperature satellite-based records of the UAH in Huntsville, Alabama overseen by Roy Spencer.  These show a persistent undershooting of the temperature compared to modellers’ forecasts. 

In 1991, with the Rio environment meeting foreshadowed, the issue was little more than a glint in the eye of the more science-oriented politicians, people like Australian Science Minister, Barry Jones.

It was to be another six years before the first hesitant regulatory steps were taken with John Howard announcing a “target of an additional 2% of electricity to be sourced from renewable sources by 2010”.  The ambiguous tone was swiftly reinterpreted as “2 per cent of electricity” and this became quantified as 9,500 GWhs, a staging post to the current objective of subsidies to ensure 33,000 GWhs of large scale plus perhaps 12,000 GWHs roof top.  Current programs cost Australian consumers and taxpayers a growing $5 billion a year.   

The issue is being heightened in Australia ahead the December 2016 meeting of the energy ministers.  This has been preceded by the release of the Terms of Reference into the post 2020 Climate review.  Mr Turnbull, having been forced by a backbench revolt, to abandon this as a catalyst for his renewed push for a carbon tax placed the blame for raising it on Josh Frydenberg, in the process cruelling the prospects of a possible leadership contender.  Following the backdown, South Australia is threatening to go it alone with renewables and a carbon tax – the latest power outage shows how well that would go!

Mr Turnbull appointed a team under Chief Scientist Alan Finkel (“We are losing the battle against climate change”) to examine the national electricity market.  Dr Finkel was appointed Chief Scientist by Malcolm Turnbull and was formerly the chief technology officer of the now bankrupt green power business, Better Place Australia.   None of the team have experience in the key issue: the effect of intermittent wind energy on the wholesale market and its implications for transmission spending.  

Ministers therefore got another magic pudding variation of the energy intensity tax that Malcolm Turnbull has long promoted but was forced to disown following its airing as a logical corollary of the Post 2020 Review.  The Finkel review offered seven themes it argues are crucial.  These are

1.  Technology is transforming the electricity sector
But the technology they refer to is renewable wind and solar’ these are transforming the industry only because governments force their use with subsidies and regulatory requirements on users

2.   Consumers are driving change
But consumers are driving change only in the sense that government regulations that make it profitable for them to do so.  The change is driven by green propagandists and businesses seeking government funding.

3.  The transition to a low emissions economy is underway
But such a transition is underway only because it is being dictated by government.      

4.  Variable renewable electricity generators, such as wind and solar PV, can be effectively integrated into the system
Quite so but only at considerably more cost in terms transmission lines and reserve power to back up intermittency and low reliability of wind and solar

 5.  Market design can support security and reliability.    
True but at an additional cost

 6.  Prices have risen substantially in the last five years.

 7.  Energy market governance is critical

The Finkel group worked closely with and drew from another group with a pre-set agenda which produced a CSIRO paper, “Energy Networks Transformation Roadmap”.  Chock-a-block with assumptions, this suggests that, “$16 billion in network expenditure could be saved by 2050 if the grid buys support services from customers with onsite resources”.  According to the report, shifting to 100 per cent renewables by 2050 would mean:

  • An annual saving of $414 in average household electricity bills (compared with roadmap counterfactual, business as usual, pathway)
  • A medium family who cannot take up distributed energy resources is over $600 p.a. better off through removal of cross subsidies

The paper has the usual array of fanciful wavy lines just to prove it has been honest and diligent.  

Like NASA, CSIRO has become highly politicised over the years.  At one stage in the Rudd-Gillard era, science commentator and AEF Director, Tom Quirk (see estimated that half of the agency’s resources were directly and indirectly associated with the climate change issue.  With the election of the Abbott government, this share fell, though perhaps only because programs were re-badged. 

The latest post-2020 energy policy review shows we have yet to make any progress in restoring the energy market to the highly competitive one that offered contracts at $40 per GWh before ministerial interventions destroyed investment confidence and forced the replacement of cheap, reliable coal by wind and solar.  Energy contracts are now priced at over $100 per GWh in South Australia and $80 per GWh in Queensland.  It appears that it will be some time off before the unravelling of this commencing with the government taking Senator Cory Bernardi’s advice and withdrawing from the doomed Paris agreement, and removing all subsidies and spending on the carbon caper.