Rafe’s Roundup 25 Sept

Calling Energy and Emergency Services Ministers

Here is a thought, what is the plan to respond to the collapse of the electricity grid? Is there adequate backup with generators to keep hospitals and other emergency services running? Complete with fuel. And what else? What about the water and gas supplies. And everything else like lifts, traffic lights, cash registers, petrol browsers and ATMs.

What are the messages that all jurisdictions should take away from the South Australian blackout in 2016? Of course everyone assumes that it will never happen again and heroic load sheding should ensure that is the case but lets at least contemplate the worst case scenario as a matter of due diligence. There is an Australian Emergency Management Arrangements Handbook with a lot of words in it, as you would expect, but are the plans in preparation?

The dark side of intermittent energy

A wordy and scary piece on the toxic impact of the Unreliable Energy industry, especially in exotic places. Skip through to pick out the eyes on the impact of wind and solar developments and especially the role of big corporations in the US power industry and the extraction of rare earths in Asia.

Lithium-ion battery mining and production are determined to be worse for the climate than the production of fossil fuel vehicle batteries in an article from The Wall Street JournalAccording to scientists measuring cumulative energy demand (CED)production of the average lithium-ion battery uses three times more electrical energy compared to a generic battery. 

Recent wind droughts

On the morning of Thursday 22 just before sunrise  South Australia (the wind leading state) was importing two thirds of its demand and the local generation was 80% gas!

In the evening at dinnertime WA was down to 1% of power from the wind. In the East the wind was doing better, delivering 3% of the demand at a capacity factor of 7 (severe drought.) Victoria is the big wind state with more capacity than SA, though not per capita, and their windmills contributed 1% of demand at capacity 1.4%. Their capacity factor was below 5% for the previous 24 hours!

Approaching 10pm nothing has changed, the wind across the SE is delivering 4% because the total demand has gone down, still the capacity factor in SA is 1.2 and in Victoria 2.8! 

On Friday morning at sunrise the wind across the NEM was delivering 2.6% of demand at CP 5.5% (of installed or nameplate capacity.) South Australia is importing half its demand with gas providing almost 90% of local generation, wind CP 3.5%. In Victoria the wind is delivering 2%, CP 2.3%, Queensland 1% CP 6% and Tasmania 4% CP 7%.

The NEM has been technically in drought (CP less than 10%) since 10 am Thursday, in SA since 1 am on Thursday, and in Tasmania and Victoria the drought started at noon on Wednesday.

On Saturday the NEM recovered although the capacity farcor stayed under 20% all day (two thirds of the average) while SA and Victoria were under 5% for much of the day.

On Sunday the NEM trended down to reach drought level (10) at noon. Shortly after sunrise SA wa importing 45% of demand wth 40% of local generation from gas. The picture shows the rather limited amount of green (wind) even though only SA was technically in drought. Imagine the extra windmills required to provide hot breakfasts and coffee!

Roundup of partners and fellow-travellers

Drop in to the sites and see what they are up to!

CPAC Speakers for this yearRegister Volunteer to help

IPA         Climate and energy program CIS          The Sydney Institute

Menzies Research Centre Mannkal Economics Education Foundation          

Advance Australia Taxpayers Alliance Australian Institute for Progress

A new appreciation of our culture and heritage? I think so!

The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the beginning of the reign of King Charles III has been a revelation. Five million Australians watched the Queen’s funeral. Many more would have viewed the ongoing, multiple television station coverage of reporters on the ground everywhere it mattered over the full ten days of mourning. A Roy Morgan poll conducted after King Charles took the oath showed 60% of Australians want to retain our system of government. Once again, republican claims that we are not interested in our constitutional monarchy have been disproven.

Something more than the standard position against change, – the, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” argument – justifiable though that is, has occurred to us at the Queen’s passing. Something much bigger and altogether more basic. Something we thought lost in the decades since the Queen ascended the throne in 1952 and for which we have realised no republican model of government could replace. What it is, is the full majesty of our culture and heritage.

When the new King, Charles III, took his oath at Westminster Hall, in accordance with the law and the assent of the people, and with all the arcane language, traditional vestments, processions and many constitutional acts and religious ceremonies, which culminated in the Queen’s funeral service at Westminster Abbey and her procession to Windsor Castle for her interment, a thousand year history played out before us. And we were in awe because it was the nation’s history.

Not enough “oats” in the European power supply?

Everyone knows the sad story about the farmer who decided to save some money by reducing the ration of oats for his horse. He started with a reduction of 10% and it didn’t seem to matter so he cut another 10% and then another. He was saving money hand over fist but then the animal unfortunately died.

Over the last decade or three the nations of the western world started to reduce the amount of fossil fuel “oats” in their power “rations.” In Australia the process started in 2012 with the closure of Munmorah in NSW (600MW), Swanbank, Q, 500 and Collinsville Q 180. Then in 2014 it was Wallerawang in NSW 1000, Morwell, Vic 190 and Redbank NSW 144. In 2015 Anglesea in Victoria, 160, in 2016 it happened in South Austraiia with Northern 546 and Playford 240. In 2017, the biggest of all, Hazelwood in Victoria, 1760.

That took 7600 MW out of the total of 30,500 at the start of 2012, a 25% reduction. This year the phased closure of Liddell in NSW started with one of the four 500MW turbines going out of service, with the process to be complete in April 2023. In recent months a combination of planned (maintenance) outages and unplanned outages combined with issues in the supply of gas caused major price increases and alarm about the stability of the system.

The horse died when the ration of oats slipped below a sustainable level. How many more oats (coal power capacity) need to be taken out of the system to kill it? Practically everyone who has an opinion insists that the closure of coal stations has to be accelerated, or at least the expansion of wind and solar power, storage capacity and major interconnections has to be ramped up with all possible dispatch. That cannot work, as described below.

Now in Europe we can see what happens when you go too far, apparently it happens very quickly when you get to the tipping point. This one appears to be genuine, unlike the fake one we are supposed to dread with global warming.

Trigger warning, this material is likely to be distressing if you manage to conjure up a feeling for the desperation and desolation in a Britain where 60% of their manufacturing could be about to collapse, while household bills for many people are likely to exceed their disposable income.

Meantime, the same forces are de-industrializing Europe right before our eyes. Industry after industry is throttling back, shutting down, or considering doing so if the energy chaos continues. Britain is staring at the potential shutdown of 60 percent of its manufacturers. Germany and most of Europe are on the same track.

Never say it couldn’t happen here!

See also Jo Nova’s account of the situation in Europe.

There are companies that started business in the 1800s and survived two world wars but may not last the coming winter. It’s all changing so fast, they lament. With energy costs rising three to sixfold, the highest energy industries are folding. The first casualties were fertilizer, aluminium and zinc, and now in the second wave, the glass makers and tilers are coming undone, and with them, whole towns that support them will unravel too:

‘Crippling’ Energy Bills Force Europe’s Factories to Go Dark

How many power-intensive Australian firms will survive the impending increase in power prices?

Postscript. Why we can’t build RE capacity to get out of the hole.

As the saying goes, when you are in a hole, first of all stop digging. We are in a serious hole with the power supply but the standard response is to keep digging by accelerating the building of wind and solar, storage, interconnectors, hydrogen.

That will not work due to the combined effect of the following factors.

  1. Wind droughts. These are well-known in some circles but not among the people in AEMO and other advisory bodies who planned the destruction of the conventional power supply.
  2. Need for continuous supply – no gaps. Hence the term “choke point” that I used to convey the sense of “rapid death” when the wind power supply is too low to keep the lights on.
  3. No storage
  4. No capacity to exchange power with neighbours.

The reason why more windmills and solar panels will not help at the “choke point” is that when you have no RE on a windless night, no amount of additional capacity will help. The horses will get out of the paddock through gaps in the fence, regardless of how high you build it. Building the high parts even higher will not keep the horses in. We can increase the penetration of RE in the system by building more capacity but the gaps persist (so why bother?)

As for storage and the calls for “Storage Targets”, we don’t have any effective storage at grid scale at present and there is no prospect of any in sight, despite the number of “big battery” projects in the pipeline. Add them up in terms of MWhrs (instead of MW) and see how much you get compared with the demand on a windless night.

Wind watch update

This morning just before sunrise the wind was generating 7% of power across SE Australia at a capacity factor of 12% (almost down to the 10% for a severe wind drought.) South Australia (the wind leading state) was importing two thirds of its demand and the local generation was 80% gas! A bit of a gap there!

This evening at dinnertime WA was down to 1% of power from the wind. In the East the wind was doing much better, delivering 3% of the demand at a capacity factor of 7 (severe drought.) Victoria is the big wind state with more capacity than SA, though not per capita, and their windmills contributed 1% of demand at capacity 1.4%. Their capacity factor was below 5% for the previous 24 hours!

Approaching 10pm nothing has changed, the wind across the SE is delivering 4% because the total demand has gone down, still the capacity factor in SA is 1.2 and in Victoria 2.8! This is a shot of the NemWatch widget, it is a live display so it will change.

This is the AEMO data dashboard, this is also live, this display shows the flows between the states, see the Fuel Mix tab at the top to find what the different sources are providing.

The wind supply over 24 hours. This is the rolling 24-hour display at Aneroid Energy. Tick and untick the boxes to see individual states. This is the 24-hour display for all sources on the same page.

War without an end game, what do you think?

Liberals, using the U.S. nomenclature, are in favour of renewable energy, against fossil fuels, promote abortion on demand up to the time of birth, promote gay marriage, promote transgender rights (including the right of men in frocks to compete with women in sports and enter women’s change rooms), promote teaching critical race theory to schoolchildren and exposing them to drag shows and other sexual perversions, promote DEI and ESG, promote affirmative action (i.e., discrimination against those not in favoured groups), promote tearing down statues of giants of the past, promote reparations for perceived injustices committed centuries ago, promote DEI and ESG. I could go on with a whole retinue of their foul and destructive ways. But I want to add only one. That is their vengeful support of the Ukraine in its war with Russia. Russia, once extolled by the Left, is now despised. But, hold on, most conservatives are on board with this one. What does that mean? Is the Left right for once?

I don’t know but, generally, wherever the Left go I don’t want to go. Bad company. Thus, maybe, I over compensated. Found some justification for Russia in the overtures that Zelensky was making to NATO. Strangely too, I didn’t take to Zelensky as much as did the fawning world. That said, Russia invaded. It is the aggressor. No gainsaying that. So, I tried to keep objective. But it’s clear that objectivity on this matter is code for peddling Russian propaganda; at least, that is current Western mindset.

There’s a problem, I think, with the West having such a mindset. Saw an ex-military chap on the BBC just today saying that Russia could be defeated. This kind of pronouncement is commonplace. Russia is losing. Russian troops are demoralised. Liz Truss, the new British PM is especially jingoistic by proxy; as is Joe Biden.

No one in the media, so far as I’ve seen, asks a follow up question: exactly what would Russia beaten look like? Cowed, the Donbas region and Crimea abandoned? Apropos Nazi Germany: mea culpas, reparations, generals facing war-crime trials in the Hague or somewhere? Putin put on trial?

Some obvious facts should be acknowledged. Russia is a very big country and a very patriotic country. Not all Russians favour the war. All Russians favour Russia. They know that the longevity of the war has little to do with morale. It has to do with an endless supply of high-tech weapons and ammunitions supplied to the Ukraine by the US and Western European countries; without those countries ever contemplating boots on the ground. There has never been anything quite like it in the history of human conflict.

Pictured in this morning’s newspaper, a young woman with an anti-tank weapon with the caption that she’d taken out a Russian tank. Give me a bit of training and the latest US anti-tank missile launcher, and I bet even I could take out a Russian tank. (Maybe?) There seems to be a basic lack of understanding that an army marches on its supply of the latest weaponry. Churchill knew that fighting in the Sudan at the end of the nineteenth century (The River War). Weapons make the difference. That’s why this war has gone on for so long and why no end is in sight. That is, unless you suffer from the delusion that Russia will capitulate.

My ending is with the question; how will this all end up? And a second one: do the governments of the US, the UK and, say, France and Germany have a clear idea of how it will end up? I mean if you are supplying a country indefinitely with billions upon billions of dollars’ worth of armaments; surely you must have a clear objective in sight? Do you adjust that objective if Putin declares the Donbas Russia, as he has Crimea, on the basis of some plebiscites; however dodgy? Just suppose, for example, that a majority of people in the contested areas really want to be Russian? The UK was willing to let Scotland go on such a basis.

Sometimes the demarcation is clear. Good guys and bad guys. But then the idea is to completely defeat the bad guys. Usually, you have to go into their territory to do that.

What do you think? Cos I’m at sea.

WolfmanOz at the Movies #37


After a weeks’ sorjorn in Auckland New Zealand visiting family, I’m back to resume my weekly film post.

The gangster genre has been a staple in cinema ever since the medium begun. In America, the emphasis tended towards the Mafia and other various ethnic origins, but in the UK the genre was never quite so strong or dominant. British gangster films tended to focus on their working class backgrounds although there was always an undercurrent of vicious violence.

Get Carter, released in 1971, was one of the better British gangster movies, and although I have always admired it, I can’t say it’s a film I find very enjoyable due to all the characters being pretty repellent – including Michael Caine in one of his few really nasty villainous roles.

However, for me, the British gangster film hit the jackpot in 1980 with the release of The Long Good Friday. Although completed in 1979 it was delayed for a year but burst onto the scene the following year as the storyline encompassed the events and concerns of the late 1970s, including political and police corruption and IRA fund-raising.

The protagonist is Harold Shand, a top London gangster, who aspires to become legitimate and is trying to form a partnership with an American Mafia boss; but his world is upended by a series of bomb attacks on his properties and numerous murders of his associates.

Believing a local turf war has erupted, Shand gets all the other gang bosses together in one very unique and unusual place.

Ultimately, Shand learns that people within his own team have been dealing with the IRA, which leads him to violently dealing with them plus setting up a showdown with the local IRA chiefs in London.

Although Shand now believes his enemies are all dead he finds the Americans preparing to leave, having been spooked by the carnage. In response to their dismissive comments about the UK, Shand berates them for their arrogance and dismisses them as cowards. But at the film’s end, Shand will face the consequences of his recent actions.

The film boasts a standout performance by Bob Hoskins which was his breakout role. Unfortunately, over the years, he never quite achieved the same quality of roles, but here he is absolutely dynamic whether showing the character’s ruthless violent streak and/or his character’s humorous cunning intelligence.

Helen Mirren co-stars as Shand’s girlfriend in a role that could very easily have been a cliche but she brings a strength and believability to the character that would see her continue as one of the best film actresses in the last 50 years.

The Long Good Friday is one of the best British gangster movie ever made, arguably the best-ever. It’s a film made with ferocious intelligence, is tightly plotted and with razor-edged thrills it still packs a punch over 40 years after it was first released.


WW Movie Clips

Weekday Reading #23

Mark Movsesian in Compact discusses the geopolitical situation of Armenia.

Will Charles III be the Perennialist King we are hoping for? Esmé Partridge makes the affirmative case at UnHerd.

Dan Simons picks over the remains of Britain following the death of QE2 at IM-1776.

While at Quadrant, Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) discusses the role that the assault on language plays in the culture wars.

Will Orr-Ewing on the essential role of habit in education at The Critic.

Finally, John Schweppe at The American Conservative discusses the new landscape for Republicans on abortion post-Dobbs.

Our biggest peacetime policy blunder ever

Epic Failure of Planning for the Green Energy Transition

Briefing Note 22.9                September 2022

Purpose: To signal that the transition from coal cannot go any further without nuclear power.

The critical issue.

The combination of wind droughts and the lack of grid-scale storage dictate that any further loss of coal-fired power capacity will pose serious dangers whenever the wind supply is low.

This means that the green power transition cannot accelerate and it may have to stop until nuclear power is up and running.

An epic failure of planning

Readily available evidence on the frequency and extent of wind droughts across SE Australia (the NEM) was apparently ignored or discounted.

Billions of dollars have been spent on assets which cannot replace conventional power in the grid and would be stranded without subsidies and mandates to use wind and solar power.

Imagine a gigantic irrigation scheme with no reliable water supply!

Many billions more will have to be spent to keep coal and gas facilities on line until nuclear power is available.


The decision to allow subsidised and mandated intermittent energy to connect to the grid is probably the greatest peacetime public policy blunder in Australian history.

Supporting information.

How it is working out on Europe – update from Jo Nova.

TheAustralian situation in a nutshell.

Mark Mills explains why the green energy transition is not happening.

Mark Mills on the limit of wind and solar power.

A thorough comparison of the cost of different power mixes, taking account of the firming required for wind and solar. Source 

The real cost of intermittent energy and how it kills reliable power providers.

The failure of RE is demonstrated in South Australia.

For example, on the morning of Monday 19 September at breakfast time, half of the demand for power in SA was imported and 80% of local generation came from gas.