15 February 2017 – It was noticeable that President Zuma’s vows to keep on marching down the wind and solar power road while doling out taxpayers’ money was greeted with only half a cheer by Eskom. And so it might, since with any luck, someone in the bowels of our state electricity monopoly has been following the shambles in South Australia, a state that has long been hailed as leading the world in “decarbonising” its economy.
Unnoticed by our conventional and politically correct media is that there have been three major electricity blackouts in South Australia since the total one last September. Last week 90,000 homes and businesses were without power.
It finally brought to public attention the major problems posed by feeding erratic wind and solar power into an electricity grid designed to take the regular, dependable sources of electricity generated by coal, oil or gas-fired power stations, and indeed nuclear ones.
South Australia has been boasting to the world’s Green Lobby that more than 40% of its electricity comes from wind generators so its recent failures are worth watching and learning from. Another claim to Green fame is that the state has the highest proportion of alternative power generation than any other region in the world.
The intermittent nature of wind and solar is a major headache for grid managers everywhere. Another is the politicisation of energy spurred by the spurious belief that carbon dioxide is changing the climate for the worse. This has spawned an army of bureaucrats meddling with the normal laws of supply and demand, and setting politically-motivated energy targets.
The net result in South Australia has seen rocketing electricity prices, and an unstable electricity grid. Add a heat wave to a policy of closing coal-fired power stations, and the devil’s brew is complete.
But now there are signs the penny of common sense is dropping. Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week told Parliament: “We can’t afford to go the way South Australia has, which has the most expensive and the least reliable electricity in Australia.”
The Treasury Minister (their Pravin Gordhan) went so far as to wave a lump of coal while urging the Labour Party opposition (home of the Greens in Australia) not to be scared of fossil fuel. One could say sanity was, at last, raising its head.
Needless to say, the crisis has caused a veritable Tsunami of a blame game and an immediate rush to set up inquiries, investigations and strategic plans. Also, inevitably, it has provided a wonderful opportunity for non-elected officials to travel the world at taxpayers’ expense to find solutions that are staring them in the face. Denmark, Ireland and the US are destinations of the moment, it having dawned on Australians that other countries that have jumped on the Green bandwagon have the same problems.
Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Government has raised the heinous possibility of subsidising clean coal technology and, and even the Labour Government of South Australia is now contemplating encouraging the building of gas-fired power stations, and – horror – opening up old coal-fired power stations to ensure regular power output.
Amid the panic, interesting factoids have emerged from the shadows. For example, it’s now publically admitted that power storage batteries only really work at a household level.
Batteries able to store large amounts of power to be released as and when needed may only hit the market in 20 years’ time.
Further, existing battery storage is 25 times more expensive than pump storage systems – of which Australia has three.
South Australia has the most wind and solar power generators of any Australian state. It also has the highest electricity prices. Average monthly prices of electricity are sometimes three to four times higher than in the rest of the country.
So, with the highest electricity prices in Australia and Green ideology rampant, South Australia must rely on next-door Victoria State, when its own subsidised wind and solar stations fail to deliver electricity when needed.
One wonders if it is mere coincidence that South Australia has the country’s highest number of unemployed. But never mind them, the last coal-fired power stations are scheduled to close within months.
There is none so blind, as the saying goes. Green enthusiasm and a socialist government have South Australia boasting that it will make Adelaide a “carbon neutral city" by 2050, priding itself that it is conducting a big (Green) international experiment.
It’s wonderful – named Low Carbon Economy Expert Panel is still recommending a 100% renewable energy target and the goal of a ‘net zero emissions economy' by 2050. It is a classic case of putting ideology above the needs of an economy and its citizens. When this happens, the price is a heavy one.
As always, when theory rules over common sense, the South Australian Government, facing the patent chaos of its Green energy policies, is laying the blame on the “Market”, and threatening to intervene.
It would have done better to have followed the old saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Now, in the shambolic circumstances of its own creation, it would be wiser now to accept that “It is broke, so don’t fix it.”