No Minister

Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Learning from other’s mistakes

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I’m not talking about Labour and certainly not the NZ Greens. They’re committed to a path of insanity when it comes to renewable energy, as they are most other things in our society.

No, I’m looking at National and ACT. I understand that polling shows that Jacinda still has quite a grip on the female vote in this country, and that polling and focus groups show the same cohort as being the determining factor on things like wearing face diapers to ward off the dreaded Chinese Lung Rot – and saving the planet! I also get that this is backed by a wall of almost monolithic MSM propaganda 24/7.

But we surely now have enough examples from “leaders” in renewable energy around the world who have started to run into big problems with both the unreliability of these new power sources and the increase in power costs associated with them, as well as the failure to reduce CO2 emissions, (which is what this was supposed to be all about in the first place) to be able to argue back on the basis of sheer, basic, in-your-face reality and not join the insanity.

Here’s the latest victim of that reality, South Africans left in the dark after grid collapse:

South Africans are struggling in the dark to cope with increased power cuts that have hit households and businesses across the country.

The rolling power cuts have been experienced for years but this week the country’s state-owned power utility Eskom extended them so that some residents and businesses have gone without power for more than 9 hours a day.

Eskom has officially said that the blackouts are not a temporary situation and they estimate that it will take “years” to stabilise the power grid. The unstated assumption is that they can manage this feat at all in the face of the path their government has followed on trying to reduce CO2 emissions by building wind farms and closing some of their old coal-fired plants and not spending money on repairs and maintenance of the others because they anticipated their eventual closure.

Does this sound familiar? It should given that we’ve seen the exact same thing happening in Australia, Europe (especially Germany), Texas, and California:

  • Power blackouts (both rolling and sudden)
  • Massive increases in electricity costs
  • Little to no impact on reducing CO2 emissions

The biggest joke here is that we may be about to commit the same suicidal actions just as the rest of the world begins to turn away from it, despite all their hot air on the subject of Global Warming, because those energy realities are starting to bite:

World leaders at the Group of 7 summit in Germany signaled they will turn back to fossil fuels despite their commitments to a green energy transition thanks to the ongoing energy crisis.

“The G7 leaders are pretending that nothing has happened to the green agenda,” Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In reality, if you look at individual member states… it’s quite obvious that the green agenda will be sunk.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party, announced last week that the government was instituting a surge in the use of coal-powered plants.

Given the steady increase in German reliance on natural gas from Russia over the last few years, their €500 billion Energiewende project increasingly looked like a farce anyway, but it’s taken the Ukranian war to make that obvious.

Habeck is not the only such Green who is waking up, with other Euro Greens beginning to not only get the message that their favoured Renewables are actually better called the Unreliables, but that new – and previously forbidden – thinking is required:

Finland’s Green Party (Vihreät De Gröna) has voted by a large majority at its party conference to adopt a pro-nuclear approach. The party manifesto now states that nuclear is “sustainable energy” and demands the reform of current energy legislation to streamline the approval process for small modular reactors (SMRs). Finland’s is the first Green Party to adopt such a position.

There will be others, judging from this article by a guy who has started up or run companies dedicated to “clean energy technologies”, energy efficient homes and so forth – a True Believer in other words:

I wasted 20 years of my life chasing utopian energy.

Utopian energy is an imagined form of energy that’s abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and also clean, renewable, and life-sustaining. But utopian energy is as much a fantasy as a utopian society.

For years, I chased utopian energy. I promoted solar, wind, and energy efficiency because I felt like I was protecting the environment. But I was wrong! Feeling like you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you are. I just couldn’t admit it. My sense of identity was tied to my false beliefs about energy—myths that blinded me to what really does—and doesn’t—help the planet.

He puts forward eight measures of assessment that must all be used when looking at energy sources – emissions being just one of them. The other seven are: security, reliability, affordability, versatility, scalability, and land use.

Suffice to say that he’s realised that renewables don’t do very well when measured on all these factors, as he shows in that article.

Will National and ACT realise the same thing – and more crucially will they be intellectually and politically tough enough to make those arguments?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 4, 2022 at 10:22 am

Lessons for National from the Australian Power Crisis

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There are three key points to take away from the recent power debacle in Australia.

First, take a look at this graph of indexed electricity prices in Aussie from 1955 to 2017. After decades of steady reduction the rise in price has been steep and unrelenting since the start of the age of unreliable power in the mid-2000’s.

Remember this every time some Green tells you that Wind and Solar are cheaper than traditional base load, utility-scale power sources; “cost” is about more than just the Capex of the equipment. It’s about the cost of power shortages, limited growth, potential grid collapses, shorter plant lifetimes (25 years), and the cost of maintaining reliable backup power sources.

Second, note that the Liberal-National’s have been in government during much of this time, including the last nine years just ended. So when Labor and the Left hold them responsible for much of this nonsense they will be correct.

Third, hidden by such truth is the fact that Labor and the Greens wanted to go harder and faster on all this, which may have been a better idea since the crash would have come harder and faster, with appropriate lessons learned.

Best of all it should be noted that this is all a complete waste of time and money.

The primary lesson for National here in NZ on renewable unreliable power and climate change is this: Labour and the Left want you in on this so that when the hungry, cold crowds with the pitchforks and burning torches turn up they can point fingers at you and say:

“But they did it too”

And they’ll be right.

P.S. For those National supporters frightened of the power of Climate Change as an issue, “especially with the youth”, here’s something to stiffen your spines.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 20, 2022 at 12:00 pm

Burn. More. Coal?

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In the classic comic/horror movie Return of the Living Dead, there’s a scene where the zombies eat the brains of the police trying to stop them and one of the zombies uses a cop car radio to call, “Send more cops”.

I thought of this the other day while reading about the new Australian Labor government, returned from the dead after more than a decade, led by an opponent of the Hawke-Keating Labor Party economic reforms of the 1980’s, and a man whose brain not even a hungry zombie would touch.

They’ve arrived just in time to confront a crisis in the Australian electricity system caused by the shrinking gap between power supply and demand, courtesy of the “success” of successive Labor and Liberal-National governments in squeezing out fossil-fueled power stations with wind and solar by making the former unprofitable.

So when a cold snap hit Australia recently – the Coldest Start of Winter for Over a Century in fact – the following things happened:

  • The grid operator tried to force thermal generators on at a power price less than their fuel costs, so the generators took their units off the market.
  • Thus there are power cuts in Oz and power prices have gone through the roof.
  • The authorities finally suspended the market and ordered operators to bring plants on line, for which they will be “compensated”. No doubt this will be taken by the Left as yet another example of how markets fail.

In the darkest of ironies the government was forced to grovel as well as enforce:

Labor has begged industry bosses to fire up all their coal-fuelled power stations at full capacity to ease the national energy crisis in a dramatic policy u-turn.

Just days after promising ‘real action on climate change‘, Labor today demanded the nation’s coal power stations are all brought back into service as soon as possible.

It’s not just the power plants that have been shut down but coal units that have broken down as they haven’t been maintained because they haven’t been generating income. And all the parties (except maybe the Australian National party) will talk only about how quickly they need to be shut down.

Green political hostility towards coal and gas development created Australia’s energy shortage problem, by discouraging investment in affordable energy resources, and choking off the supply of bank finance for building and maintenance of coal plants.

This is called karma. The poster child of renewable power, South Australia, actually had to burn diesel again.

I’d like to think that Aussie voters will learn something from this but they’ve just managed to escape disaster – this time – so will likely need a longer, colder power crisis. Next time the gap will be bigger, as will be the case in the USA:

Unfortunately, the reliability of the electric grid could get worse in the coming years as more reliable power plants are retired. MISO’s capacity shortfall is projected to grow to 2,600 MW by 2023, enough to power virtually every home in Minnesota on an average hour, and capacity deficits are projected to widen in subsequent years.

The graph below shows the capacity shortfall growing from 2,600 MW next year to 10,900 MW by 2027 as the green bars sink lower toward the x-axis. For context, 10,900 MW is more than the amount needed to generate Minnesota’s annual electricity on an average hourly basis. Of course, some hours will have much higher demand, and some hours demand will be lower, but the trend is troubling regardless.

That’s from a report issued by the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator powerline outfit, which details a high risk of blackouts this Northern summer resulting from the current gap of 1,230 MW shortfall in power plant capacity to meet its peak demand and reserve margin.

This gap has arisen after 3,200 megawatts (MW) of reliable power plants, mostly coal and nuclear, were retired last year:

“Green” energy liberals have demanded, successfully, that reliable coal and nuclear plants be closed so they can be replaced by wind farms and solar installations. But those unreliable, intermittent sources can never replace power plants that actually work 24/7. Hence the blackouts that are now beginning, and will become more and more widespread if we continue to rely increasingly on undependable sources of power.

President Obama was the last Lefty politician to display some honesty about the true cost of renewable energy:“Electricity prices will skyrocket”:

You’d therefore think that the Democrats would be overjoyed at the massive increases in energy costs, and of course they secretly are, except for one thing crucial to a politician:

Elections have consequences, someone once said, and now the consequences of all of those elections in which Californians put leftist Democrats in office are hitting them in the wallet. They asked for it, they got it, and now they don’t like it.

The same thing – massive increases in power prices plus unreliable power plus fossil fuel plants that cannot be scrapped – has happened in Germany in particular and Europe in general, and all for poor results in GHG emissions reductions (France excepted because …. nuclear).

But never fear, the Greens have a solution:

Already, liberals are talking about a future in which you don’t control your use of electricity. Rather, a utility does. Thus, when “renewable” energy sources don’t produce enough to meet demand, the response will be “demand management.” That may mean, among other things, that you won’t be able to turn on your own air conditioning. Rather, the utility will control the temperature of your home for you.

Classic: via political control the Left create a problem and then solve it with more control. The thing is that in the USA I’m not so sure that will work given how much Americans hate being controlled. Some years ago my friend Cathy, living in San Francisco, talked to all her equally Liberal, tree-hugging friends about a great idea she’d grown up with in New Zealand – “Ripple Control” – which many of you may remember from the 1970’s and 1980’s. In the wee small hours the Department of Electricity would signal water heaters to shut down, starting them up again about 5am or so. Naturally Kiwis took it up the ass, even as they blamed Muldoon.

Her neighbours and friends completely rejected the idea and – as she sheepishly admitted – did so with some heat.

See also:

Powerless Europe (plus dirty Germany)
Energy Charades (Coal expansion in China, India, SE Asia vs. Germany)
Energy Realities (US GHG emissions reduction success vs China coal plus wind fail)

Written by Tom Hunter

June 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

GOP Tsunamis and Democrat Islands

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It’s taken longer than I expected but the reality of President Biden’s uselessness is finally catching up with him.

The only surprise I have is that so many Democrats are surprised by this.

For almost a year now, every poll has seen increasingly worse numbers for Biden. The trigger was the Afghanistan debacle, no matter how the MSM and his many sycophants around the world tried to spin it.

Since then nothing has gone right for him. But saying that makes it sound simply like a hapless, hopeless President has been overwhelmed by events beyond his control, and while it’s true that this low-IQ, senile, husk of a human being is incapable of dealing with problems that land on his desk, many of those problems stem directly from the idiocies of “his” policies. Actually they’re the policies of the Nancy Pelosi Democrat Party and his Obama-retread staff, policies that he regularly fumbles while reading off a large-print teleprompter in the fake Oval Office set created for him. (BTW, for a laugh, check out Reuters early 2021″fact check” of why there is no fake Oval Office).

He’s underwater on almost all issues.

He’s underwater in almost all states:

There are only three states where Biden’s approval is above water:

* Hawaii: 50 percent approval, 40 percent disapproval
* Massachusetts: 45 percent approval, 42 percent disapproval
* Vermont: 46 percent approval, 38 percent disapproval

His “base” is abandoning him:

In new polling provided exclusively to Secrets, he is losing support among younger voters, suburbanites, women, minorities (especially Hispanics), and union members.

To be fair he never really had a “base” as someone like Trump or Bernie Sanders does, and that showed in two successive failures in Presidential runs in 1988 and 2008, with the same pattern in 2020 until James Clyburn rescued him in the South Carolina primary. His “base” was simply people who hated Trump: they had no loyalty to Biden,.

Inflation via gas and food prices is bad enough, but when you see particular food items like infant formula you understand how all the spin in the world cannot counter people’s direct experience. This is not “inflation” in the monetary sense but supply chain problems, ones that Biden and his staff missed for months. It didn’t help when his staff did a video-op of Biden with CEO’s of companies making infant formula where they bluntly said that they’d known about the approaching crisis for months – followed by this from Biden:

This sort of cluelessness is dragging down the entire Democrat Party heading into the Mid-Terms, where a large loss is already baked into the cake, and it could get worse. As a result Democrat insiders are getting frustrated with Biden:

“It’s really simple: ‘Be the f—ing president!,” said one Democratic strategist frustrated by the administration. “I realize it’s tough and you’re drinking out of a fire hose every single day, but there are things you can do to control the public perception and they haven’t done any of that.”…

Here’s a hint pal, it’s because they’re utterly incompetent in everything they do and also because spin can only go so far in twisting reality. The frustration has turned into finger-pointing inside the White House with the Pre-criminations beginning:

Faced with a worsening political predicament, President Joe Biden is pressing aides for a more compelling message and a sharper strategy while bristling at how they’ve tried to stifle the plain-speaking persona that has long been one of his most potent assets.

Biden is rattled by his sinking approval ratings and is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign, people close to the president say.

Amid a rolling series of calamities, Biden’s feeling lately is that he just can’t catch a break. “Biden is frustrated. If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said a person close to the president.

It’s called being the President, idiot! That link is to one of his MSM tongue-bathers, NBC, which alone tells you how bad this is. Even so their ingrained Democrat/Left bias produces comedy gold

An assumption baked into Biden’s candidacy was that he would preside over a smoothly running administration by dint of his decades of experience in public office.

Yet there are signs of managerial breakdowns that have angered both him and his party.

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

A lot of us didn’t assume that! The people who did were the increasingly poorly-specified Smartest Guys in Any Room.

“He’s now lower than Trump, and he’s really twisted about it,” another person close to the White House said.

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

He’s said that “I don’t look at the polls — no joke”, which turns out to be more BS. I won’t say “lie” because you need an active brain to know you’re lying. He believes everything he says in the moment and is thus angry at staff who correct him.

Beyond policy, Biden is unhappy about a pattern that has developed inside the West Wing. He makes a clear and succinct statement — only to have aides rush to explain that he actually meant something else. The so-called clean-up campaign, he has told advisers, undermines him and smothers the authenticity that fueled his rise. Worse, it feeds a Republican talking point that he’s not fully in command.

Ah yes, the ever-present “Republican Talking Point”, otherwise known as the “Republicans Pounce” meme.

LOL. That bit almost makes it look like he’s just a feeble puppet and that policy decisions are being made behind the scenes by staff that no one voted for, and when this senile figurehead breaks with their bureaucratic consensus, they veto him.

Asked about the staff’s practice of clarifying Biden’s remarks, the official said: “We don’t say anything that the president doesn’t want us to say.”

“We never overrule the President”

At the White House Easter Egg Roll the Easter Bunny begged to differ!

Standard practice actually. After Biden announced that Putin must not be allowed to remain power, Jen Psaki and others rushed out to reassure the Washington Blob that Biden hadn’t meant that. But then Biden went out to the microphones again to say he wasn’t walking anything back, and had in fact meant the thing he’d first said. I’m surprised he didn’t push the Easter Bunny over so he could keep talking, but that would have upset the children.

What all this actually means is that the Cottonhead Puppet’s handlers are directing things from behind the scenes – except the puppet occasionally manages to put his pudding aside and stand in front of TV cameras to announce some dramatic shifts in US policy because he thinks that sounding like a tough guy will juice his polling.

It’s no surprise to find out that Biden staffers are leaving in droves, with special emphasis on the comms staff, another indication that these people think that this is all a messaging problem.

In the wake of that NBC piece a Biden staffer attacked NBC “News” as actually a right-wing operation doing a hit on Biden. Yes! Really! His proof was that their official denial, claiming that the staff never issues statements without Biden’s approval, only ran in paragraph 28 – while the stuff that was said off-the-record about Biden being Spongebrain Angry Pants was featured much more prominently.

That staffer will find it much harder to tag the NYT as such, with their “Democratic whispers” story

In interviews, dozens of frustrated Democratic officials, members of Congress and voters expressed doubts about the president’s ability to rescue his reeling party and take the fight to Republicans.

Doubts? No! Really?

Written by Tom Hunter

June 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

The Pentagram Loop of Economic Doom

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What’s in everybody’s face, especially in America, is inflation, but there’s far more than that going on in their economy, and basically the global economy.

And none of it’s good.

But let’s look at inflation first, in particular the stuff that chews into your wallet every day rather than the somewhat tame measure of CPI.

Gasoline for cars is, for Americans, the most in-your-face aspect of this; for historical and psychological reasons it seems to grind them more than food prices. Of course the joke is that in 2008 Democrat suckhole media like the LA Times was boasting about “The joy of $8 gas.

You’d think the Democrats would therefore be happier right now.

Companies are trying to trick people as they did back in the 1970’s by shrinking the size of the products they sell “for the same price”. I don’t think it works.

The official CPI for May surged to 8.6%, but if it was being calculated as it was in 1980 it would be 17% (see the graph above). Moreover the month-on-month inflation is not stopping but itself increasing; in other words inflation is not going away any time soon. Good to see that one of Biden’s numerous idiot hires, Treasury Secretary Yanet Yellen, is now publicly regretting saying that inflation in 2021 was “transitory”. Of course she’s not alone as the US MSM have desperately tried to prop up Biden and the Democrats on this issue for a year now.

On top of all this is the fact that wage growth is rapidly slowing, which means that wages are actually going backwards, the highest negative since 2006 actually.

Add in the problems of the stock market – which is also shrinking American’s wealth, starting with pension funds, plus a possible crash in the housing market – and you’re looking at big economic problems across the board. This has business people starting to also get on edge:

Why is there so much doom and gloom though? Recessions happen regularly and we’ve seen inflation and even stagflation before and survived them. There are two answers to this question.

First, what’s different this time is the number of major factors coming together, each of which has caused recessions in the past on their own:

  1. The business cycle.
  2. High energy prices.
  3. Inflationary pressures other than energy (supply chain problems plus $6 trillion of unneeded US government spending in the last two years)
  4. Excessive debt-funded speculation.
  5. Secular shifts in the economy.

That last one needs explanation:

Examples include: new global competition (1970s); currency devaluations; costs of cleaning up decades of pollution (1970s); financialization (1980s to the present), geopolitical shifts in alliances, social disorder, demographics (aging of the workforce, mass retirement) and sea changes in the distribution of income and power to labor and capital.

It’s a perfect storm and it’s built on the back of two decades of poor economic policies.

Second, the normal paths of getting out of factors 1 and 3 – high interest rates to crush inflation and massive Keynesian-style state spending – are now hemmed in by the massive amounts of debt the US has created in the last twenty years, both public and private. In fact it’s increasingly hard to tell the difference between the two, so dependent upon cheap created credit from the Federal Reserve have the markets – especially Wall Street and the housing market – become.

The higher interest rates will slow the economy and cause unemployment. It will also swallow up tax revenue as the government has to pay interest on its massive debt. But more critically, it will increase the rate of default on home mortgages. Those defaults will make mortgage-backed securities less valuable and more unpredictable. That’s how the 2008 housing market seized up. 

In 2008 the US housing crisis was solved by having the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve buy trillions of dollars of mortgages and Mortgage Backed Securities that had become nearly worthless. But having re-created that situation what are they going to do now (factor 4)?

The energy crisis is also not going away because high fossil fuel prices are seen as the way to “transition” the economy to the world of renewable energy. If that’s your goal then it’s a logical play – but it will kill consumers (in some cases literally), kill the politicians intent on crashing through the wall of such massive energy change – and that’s assuming it’s even possible, which it isn’t (42 Inconvenient Truths on the “New Energy Economy”) and possibly kill the economy.

Two years ago I playfully predicted The Great Crash of 2034, but allowed that it might come later – or sooner.

Brace for impact.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 13, 2022 at 7:41 pm

Sustainable Living?

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I came across this rather sweet video a few weeks ago by an English guy who has, over the last five years, built an off-the-grid lifestyle on eighteen acres in the countryside.

The video is him showing viewers all the things he has built, which is a pretty impressive list:

  • A “cob” house.
  • Miniature hydro-electric dam.
  • Solar panels and power shed/workshop for batteries, invertors, etc.
  • Woodwork shop.
  • Metalworking shop (in progress).
  • Greenhouse.
  • Saw milling machine.

He’s also done this for very little money.

I suspect that he and his unseen girlfriend, “Pip”, are vegetarians because while he’s very proud of their vegetable gardens, he only refers to their chickens as a source of eggs, and although their are sheep there’s no mention of them being sources of meat.

But here’s the thing. As impressive as all this is, the fact is that he’s done it using machinery that had to be produced in factories: all of his big 3-phase woodworking machinery; numerous other smaller woodworking and metal working tools; the very useful chain saw; various electronics, including the components of the power system.

Those factories can’t be run off solar panels and small hydro dams. While it would have been possible to do all this by hand without such tools it would have been a hell of lot harder, taken longer, and the results likely more primitive. Aside from the construction itself his ongoing lifestyle will require regular replacements of components or entire machines – like the solar panels and batteries – which he cannot produce.

In short, it’s an industrial civilisation that’s enabling him to live like this. To what extent such a civilisation can be reduced or downgraded while still being able to support hundreds of millions or billions of people to live such a poetic and rustic lifestyle is an unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable, question. Certainly in the Developing world, billions of people are moving in the opposite direction from this guy – with all that implies about their demands for energy and technology.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

California Screaming – Inflation (UPDATE)

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I can’t say I ever enjoyed the gigantic expressway network of Los Angeles, even back in the 1990’s when it was nowhere near as bad as it is now in terms of traffic congestion and poor maintenance.

Even so, the one drive I did like was from LA International Airport down I-405 to Mission Viejo. Six months of blue skies, sun, warm but not oppressive temperatures, the wind in my face in the rented convertible, a smooth drive and traffic loads not much more than heading south on Auckland’s Southern Motorway in a mid-afternoon week day.

Then there were the gas prices. Surprisingly for a place where wages and salaries were about 20% higher than Illinois and where some goods and services were more expensive than in the Windy City, the price of gasoline was actually lower than Chicago. But that was a long time gone. This is an LA gas station just a couple of days ago.

Regular is equal to our 91-grade so let’s do the math:

  1. One US Gallon is 3.785 litres
  2. That means a price of $US 2.13 per litre.
  3. $US 1.00 dollar is $NZ 1.53.
  4. So that’s an equivalent of $NZ 3.25 / litre.

Cool. So California, or at least LA and likely the rest of the coastal strip, is now as expensive or even more expensive for petrol as Auckland, New Zealand – although there are some Auckland stations that approach the CA level.

Welcome to the rest of the world, America – or at least, welcome California.

UPDATE:
Oh dear, Calvin & Hobbes was prescient.

That cartoon is from the mid-late 1990’s when the average price of a gallon of US regular gasoline was in the range of $US 1.10 (inflation adjusted that’s $US 1.55), with some states like Illinois being higher (and Chicago higher still), and states like Texas lower.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 3, 2022 at 7:59 pm

NZ Power Blows

with 5 comments

(Re-posted and bumped from last year as an addition to GD’s electricity post.)

After the recent power blackout, which did not affect me, I took a look at Peter Creswell’s long-time blog, Not PC, for his take on the situation.

It turned out that he had nothing new to add to warnings he’d made years, even decades, ago:

if I may continue a well-worn theme of previous posts over several years (No PowerNo power, againStill No Power‘More power!’ says India. ‘No power,’ says NZPower outrage ) and remind you of several famous power outages (such as Auckland 1998, 2006, 2009 … ) this news and that conclusion above simply confirms what should have been obvious years ago: in this country the lifeblood of production, energy, is running out. Not because New Zealand is short of resources with which to produce energy. But because politicians and earth-first worshippers have declared we are not allowed to use them.

That’s from 2012, although he did include this recent comment from one Hamish Rutherford.

“Between the decision to rip up the rules on the gas market, to the difficulty consenting renewables projects, to the threat to build hydro storage at Lake Onslow, the market is simply responding to the signals that the Government is sending it.”

Running through his old posts the most detailed was Meet the Enfeebled, which had lots of graphs on power production, like this one:

... over the years from from 1980 to 1998, the growth in New Zealand’s generating capacity matched the growth in demand, growing at an averaged rate of about 150MW per year.  Despite this, regular power shortages such as the famous outages of 1992 showed that even at this time capacity was near its limits — partly because of the lack of backup generation for the occasionally fickle hydro generators.

The basic thrust of the article was that since the turn of the Millennium (up to 2008 when the post was written) production growth had not matched consumption growth. You can read the detail of power stations built and closed:

TOTAL NEW CAPACITY 1993 – 2008:   1850.5 MW .

TOTAL DECOMISSIONED 1990-2008:       1333 MW

TOTAL NETT NEW CAPACITY SINCE 1990: 949.5 MW

This while consumption grew by 2700MW. The margin was growing thin. But what’s happened since the mid-2000’s? This from the MBIE:

Luckily the consumption has also plateaued at tje same time to roughly the same level: 42,000GWh vs 44,000GWh production.

That is likely due to the steady conversion to energy saving devices such as LED bulbs and heat pumps, as well as the steady increase in insulated houses. But there will come a point where even slow economic growth of 2-3% per year will eventually outpace the improvements in energy efficiency.

But the greatest increase will come with the flip side of the renewable energy push: the electrification of everything. Below are the NZ consumption figures for 2018 in Petajoules (source MBIE report. pdf pages 14-15):

The supply figures are a little different, since we have to import most of our oil while we produce more than we consume for coal (38 vs. 25) and gas (172 vs. 74).

Current total electricity production from all sources in NZ is about 160PJ. So we’re talking about more than doubling our electrical production, and some 84% of it already comes from renewable sources. Geothermal has grown tremendously since 2005 but there are limits being approached quickly. Hydro reached its limits years ago; there have been more cancelled hydro projects to add to Not PC’s 2008 list – and most of those have been due to the Resource Management Act and the Environment Court

So that leaves Wind and Solar, which means an even greater increase needed from that slim red line below.

Basically from 8Pj to more than 300Pj – an increase of 3,750%.

I’m being generous in allowing that the remaining 82PJ might come from a mix of new hydro and geothermal, with a slight assist from residential PV (solar panels).

Moreover that’s just to replace current fossil fuel energy consumption.

=======================

UPDATE:

Rather than looking at Petajoules which involve efficiency conversion assumptions, commentator Chris Morris suggests simply looking at TWh.

The ballpark number to electrify NZs energy demand (with a lot of assumptions) are about a doubling of the grid so 90TWhpa. Here is a 2019 MBIE analysis of it, Electricity demand and generation scenarios. Notice how they claim cost of renewables is cheaper – it isn’t as there is no cost for integration into the grid. Market distortion by credits also there. And if it was cheaper, it wouldn’t need subsidies.

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UPDATE II

Where does our energy come from? (NZ)

42 Inconvenient Truths on the “New Energy Economy”

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Finally it must be noted that since Wind (and solar) are unreliable, tanking to zero on a regular basis, they will need backup generating capacity – 300Pj of it. Where will that come from? A doubling of hydro/geothermal power? In the case of Hydro it has problems itself, though nowhere near as bad as Wind, but Huntly was built to back them up in drought years.

To paraphrase Sir Humphrey, these are heroic assumptions.

There is one other possibility that should not be dismissed, even as crazy as it may sound. I’m not talking about Thorium Molten Salt Reactors, Fusion reactors or nuclear power in general on the supply side.

No, I’m talking about crushing the demand side. A policy of Zero Economic Growth, or even negative economic as all that fossil fuel energy is shut down to enable a Zero Carbon nation. Look how happy many Greens are with what Covid-19 has delivered to Fortress NZ: the huge reduction in airline flights to and from the nation and the subsequent massive drop in tourism and internal travel in general.

After all, as Robert Bidinotto explains:

Typically, the person who calls himself an “environmentalist” is really just a nature-loving “conservationist.” Appreciating the earth’s natural beauty and bounty, he is understandably concerned about trash, noise, pollution, and poisons. Still, he sees the earth and its bounty as resources–resources for intelligent human use, development, and enjoyment. At root, then, his concern for the earth is human-centered: he believes that this is our environment, to be used by people to enhance their lives, well-being, and happiness.

But the leaders of the organized environmentalist movement have a very different attitude and agenda.

Their basic premise is that human activities to develop natural resources constitute a desecration of nature–that, in fact, nature exists for its own sake, not for human use and enjoyment. By their theory of ecology, they see man not as the crowning glory of nature, nor even as just another part of “the web of life”–but rather as a blight upon the earth, as the enemy of the natural world. And they see man’s works as a growing menace to all that exists.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 24, 2022 at 12:45 pm

I’ll take Manic Pixie Dream Girl for 5% inflation, Alex

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The latest statements out of the dairy companies show the biggest monthly leap in payout prices that I can recall, greater even than the big boom of 2013/14.

And farmers vividly recall what happened next; the biggest crunch dairy farmers have ever experienced, which is why I’m looking at their forecasts of similar pricing into 2023 and taking those with a grain of salt.

Everybody likes to see a steady increase in value for what they produce, a steady growth in wage and salaries or other income.

But nobody, at least nobody with a sense of the future, wants to see these sorts of rises because they’re not real in the sense of steady increases in the number of your customers or their increased valuation of your product or service, or perhaps just their steady increase in wealth that makes them less penny-pinching.

No, these sorts of price increases mean that something is very wrong with the system. That money is floating around out there and being thrown at assets and commodities because in our bones we know it can’t last.

Milk is not in that graph but it should be. Farmers had a good sense of what was coming before most economists did, when we saw the price pressures building in 2021. We know from our history that we’ll benefit from inflation before anybody else because commodities go first – but we also know that it will bite us (and everybody else) in the ass later on, as the pressure feeds into the costs of fuel, fertilisers and a hundred other things needed to run a modern farm. Today’s bumper profits and excess cash flow can vanish real fast under those circumstances.

Still, it’s better than being in the situation of a wage and salary earner, especially in the lowest brackets. Those poor bastards are getting screwed right now and it is going to get worse and all the increased minimum wage and WFF kerfuffle is not going to count for much.

That note about the suspension of trading in Nickel forwards is not due to some fundamental problem obtaining Nickel but because some Chinese billionaire and his giant Nickel processing company found himself stuck with an $8 billion loss on short positions he took.

This is going to get worse before it gets better and I hate to tell you this, but in the short-term there’s not much that governments can do about it. They have lit the fuse, as usual, but the it’ll be the marketplace that clears the crap out of the way in its usual, brutal fashion.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 12, 2022 at 12:32 pm

US Gas prices like I’ve never seen them.

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One of the things I got used to in the USA is how cheap petrol (gasoline) was – or perhaps it was just the shock of dealing with NZ prices when I got back here.

Americans really do obsess over petrol prices too, constantly looking out for the cheapest deals whereas Kiwis just tend to pull up anywhere and start pumping – although that has begun to change here. I recall that we’d go to one gas station in Chicago because it was literally just over the city boundary and therefore not subject to the city tax, even though you couldn’t physically tell that you had “left” Chicago.

But thanks to the Biden administration’s war on fossil fuels, plus the Russian invasion of Ukraine, gas prices in the USA have exploded in the last year. Even so, the following photo, courtesy of one of the Powerline authors, Steve Hayward, who lives in California, is shocking.

I’m told this pic from the LA area is authentic—probably arriving here mid-state by noon tomorrow.

I ran the calculations and given US Gallons to Litres and the current conversion rate of the $US to $NZ I figure the $9.10 for Premium Gas is about $NZ 3.51 / litre.

New Zealand comes to California.

Heh!

Written by Tom Hunter

March 8, 2022 at 9:28 am