21
Mar
2017

What Energy Crisis?

Today’s Australian has devoted its entire Letters section to energy policy and the use of renewable as a part of climate change policy. My letter is published below and other letters are here and are in a similar critical vein. They include one from Professor O’Brien (Adjunct to WA University), a physicist who has long been a critic of the so-called “consensus” on climate change – one of those many academics who do not subscribe to the “group” view which has prevailed for the last 30 or so years and whose views have been swallowed hook line and sinker by many political and business leaders.

Interestingly, I have also received a message from John McClean, once an official adviser to the IPCC. Included in his advice to me is that, even if Turnbull’s  Snowy Mountain project gets going, there may well be difficulties on some days to get enough electricity to bring back the initial water flow from the dam where it started. He also supports the need for an inquiry.

Also here is Terry McCrann’s column, which includes the important segment immediately below warning of the dangers if existing policies are allowed to continue.

“SLIDING TOWARDS PRECIPICE

AUSTRALIA is sliding, seemingly inexorably and at an accelerating pace, towards the electricity generation precipice. We are now facing the almost certain prospect that we are going to enter an extended period, running into years if not decades, of chronic power shortage.

We face blackouts next summer across the three south-eastern states, Victoria, NSW and South Australia. Indeed, it’s possible — but, hopefully, at this stage unlikely — they could come as soon as this winter. But if not then, or either by a miracle, next summer, they are all but certain after that.

At a functional level, averting the risk, the certainty, is easy. We just have to keep Victoria’s Hazelwood coal-fired power station open. On a day when it’s hot both in NSW, so air conditioners are whirring, and also in SA, when wind turbines are generally not, Hazelwood has been the only thing that has already avoided blackouts in both those states.

What exactly do supposedly sane people think is going to happen the next time’s there a similar combination of weather? Yes, weather, not “climate”. To say nothing of the most fundamental responsibility of leadership?

Yes, it makes basic sense to — eventually — close Hazelwood. And indeed, other coal-fired stations. Not because they are supposedly “dirty”, defined by the amount of CO2 they emit — nothing like most of the coal-fired stations in India and China which really are dirty, pumping out dirty bits of grit.

Why don’t we, incidentally, identify the “dirtiest” Australian, similarly defined by how much CO2 that “dirtiest” of 25 million “dirty” Australians, exhales each day? But close them because they really have reached the end of their lives. And close them, in an orderly way, where replacement base-load stations have been built.

Malcolm Turnbull’s scheme to pump water uphill is as mad as Jay Weatherill’s plan to build a big battery. Both might keep the lights on for a few minutes. Then we go black”.

Energy Muddle is the result of political ineptitude (Letter published in The Australian,19 March 2017. Bracketed bits were omitted by Ed)

Prime Minister Turnbull says he has received a guarantee from gas producers that sufficient gas will be available in future to prevent blackouts and that, under his leadership, the Snowy Mountains scheme will increase production by 50 per cent. But many see these initiatives as mainly designed to lift his and the Coalition’s polling rather than solving the energy crisis the PM says we face.

There is no energy crisis. The crisis is that our political leaders, federal and state, have adopted policies that are resulting in reduced usage of coal-powered energy, reduced investment in gas production for local use, and increased resort to renewable sources which are now discovered to have limits [to their use]. Yet we have numerous scientists [both here and overseas] who reject or highly qualify the thesis that fossil fuels should not be used and who support the use of fracking and conventional drilling for gas.

Australia has plentiful supplies of coal and gas: a change in policies would prevent any energy problems. One would be to reduce the renewable target (it has previously been reduced) to existing usage levels, which are now about half the 23.5 per cent target. That should be accompanied by commissioning a report from representatives of the many thousands of scientists who reject or qualify the dangerous warming thesis. A likely outcome would be a major change in energy policy.

Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic

It is also worth drawing attention to one of Australia’s political leaders who has swallowed the fishing line dangled by the group of scientists who accept the dangerous warming thesis unless emissions of CO2 are stopped. I am referring here to SA Premier Weatherill. Questioned by the ABC and The  Australian, he responded “I know that’s inconvenient for The Australian and I know that they’re wanting to continue their jihad against renewable energy but all of the evidence is to the contrary,”. Yet, as the article indicates, experts have advised that the use of renewable should be limited and one has suggested to no more than 20 per cent (the usage in SA is over 40 per cent).

Of course, Weatherill is not our only political leader who has swallowed the fishing line. Turnbull has attacked the extent to which some state leaders have used renewable sources. But until he acts to reduce the federal renewable target of 23.5% for electricity he is participating in Terry McCrann’s slide towards the precipice and what goes with that.

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