We should cater for our energy needs, and forget about "targets''

22 Aug 09

The Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, Mr. Viv Forbes, called on the Australian Senate to reject the Renewable Energy Targets Bill if it is re-introduced next week. Forbes comments:

Two destructive bills were rejected by the Australian Senate last week: The carbon Ration-n-Tax Scheme (the RAT scheme) and the Renewable Energy Targets Bill (the RENT scheme).

The RENT scheme will force power companies to source 20% of their power needs from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Consumers will be forced to pay the extra costs. It is well named because it extracts unearned rent from the community to allow politicians to harvest green votes.

It may have escaped the notice of our well-sheltered MPs that sometimes the sun does not shine, nor does the wind blow constantly. And at many times during the year (like calm winter nights), not one watt of power would be generated by any wind or solar plant over large areas of the continent.

Moreover, both are very dilute forms of energy, requiring large areas of land to collect significant power. Neither produces reliable, stable, predictable power. And when all factors are taken into account, they may not even reduce carbon emissions.

Solar power is good for hot water systems, remote properties, navigation beacons, recharging portable batteries, growing grass and drying the washing. Wind power is good for pumping water, flying kites and racing yachts. Neither can be relied on to run the trains, the factories, the smelters or the hospitals. Any society foolish enough to rely on these medieval energy sources deserves to freeze in the dark.

Naturally, if enough money is extracted from consumers or taxpayers, we could build enough storage capacity or backup generating capacity to provide continuous power from these intermittent power sources. But the cost is prohibitive because the backup facility needs to cope with 100% of the Green Power capacity. This duplication doubles the capital cost of Green Power, but neither the Green Plant nor the backup plant is used efficiently: one or the other is always idle.

If Australia is stupid enough to mandate 20% of the electricity market for Green Power, electricity costs will escalate, backup gas prices will soar, industry will emigrate and jobs will disappear. If the market is unwilling to build Green Power facilities without mandates or subsidies, there is a good reason for it.

Already those places who have been most enthusiastic in mandating or subsidising Green Energy, such as California, Denmark and Spain, are bleeding financially from the high cost and poor revenue generated by their political playthings. (The Government of California is paying its bills with IOUs). UK is heading down this same dead-end road. Green power may swing elections but it will not cook the dinner on a cold quiet winter night.

The Senate should reject the RENT scheme if it reappears. Producers and consumers, not Parliament, should decide how much green power is sensible.

Back to top

Energy Policy
Fuel to Electricity
Nuclear Power
Wind -

big turbines
Wind -

small turbines
Diversity Website