Yes to Santa, No to Renewable Energy

Awful events can be salutary. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is one of those. The Russians have to move to take territory. They need fuel. The Ukrainians have to keep the heating on otherwise they’ll get very cold. Just looked, at 7 pm here, it’s 0°C in Kyiv.

It’s always struck me that despite incessant bombing in WWII that Britain and Germany largely kept the lights on, industry humming, and tanks a-trundling. Now, relatively speaking, a lack of precision bombing, intense air defences and the sheer number of targets presented a problem in disabling electricity production. But undoubtedly the properties of the primary energy sources played a part. Coal and oil are widely accessible and available, energy dense, and portable.

I imagine it would be an advantage to have slabs of power generation deep underground in large scale future wars. Obviously, Iran thinks so. But that’s speculation beyond my level of competence and is, in any event, by the way.

Imagine this future moulded by the Greens and the Climate 200 sirens:

Australia electrified; courtesy, predominantly, of wind and solar. Homes, industry, services, utilities and transport (yes transport) dependent on the grid; in turn, dependent on vast expanses of land and sea covered by interconnected wind turbines and solar panels. Sitting ducks. Hmm? I don’t think you can bury away wind and solar farms.

In sum, we are so vulnerable that we better start drafting the surrender letter in case someone threatens us. Someone who doesn’t think accommodating gender dysphoria or queer theory or feminism or using correct pronouns helps win battles. Who maybe has decided not to give away coal, oil and gas? I couldn’t begin to guess who that could be.

Having energy available when and where it’s needed is a national security issue. Coal, oil, gas and nuclear should be the backbone of our energy generation. Wind and solar are perilous frivolities.

No, Virginia, there really is no such thing as affordable renewable energy.

28 thoughts on “Yes to Santa, No to Renewable Energy”

  1. Fischer-Tropf I think was important

    Yes- It allowed Germany to leverage coal reserves (to some extent) into ersatz petrol.

    However, it was not a complete solution for the Germans, whose loss of Romanian oilfields and Allied bombing of their synthetic fuel plants eventually crippled them.

    The Americans revived the process around 2002 on an experimental basis, and successfully flew a B-52 around the world on a 50:50 blend of the stuff with conventional JP8 kerosene in 2006.

    It certainly can be revived at a pinch, but it seems even the most severe shocks may not startle folks back into reality.


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  2. Startling ignorance in the OP. The Russkies don’t need more territory only leverage to protect their current assets, Ukraine is not a global energy player and no mention of gas whatsoever as a key piece on the board.

    Also, what would be most cheaply and swiftly replaced in the event of an attack or natural disaster. A acre of solar panels and a dozen windmills or a billion dollar fossil fuel plant?

    Go back to sucking on your crayons instead of using them to write crap like this.
    moderated

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  3. I doubt vast fields of windmills and solar panels would be considered a viable target, as they would require far too many munitions and too many missions. Costly, risky and mostly unproductive. It’s far more viable to target where the power is distributed, the major interconnects etc. But in today’s world, cyber attacks to disable the entire grid is the preferred choice, as it can take out the entire system without requiring any major resources and can be repeated ad infinitum.


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  4. Energy and Covid are the two biggest failures of modern government. They reveal the amazing ignorance and ideological capitulation of our politicians.


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  5. There’re about a dozen Fischer–Tropsch and similar coal to liquids plants in operation around the world. Three quarters of them are in China as you might expect.

    One thing about renewables that the Greens never mention is the system black problem. That occurred when the wind farms tripped and a feeder HVAC line blew over in South Australia some years ago. It takes some careful coordinated effort to re-establish the grid after a system black event, it doesn’t get switched on with a lightswitch.

    So imagine an all wind and solar grid. It would be having system black events a few times a week. How the grid could fall over then be restarted endlessly I don’t know. I don’t know if it would even be possible to maintain an operating grid at all.


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  6. ” It takes some careful coordinated effort to re-establish the grid after a system black event,…”

    Yes, very difficult.
    Disconnect all load.
    Fire up about 50MW of gas turbine or hydro and route to a major coal station – you need coal conveyors, coal crushers, cooling water pumps, high pressure air etc to be able to start a single unit, and these are power hungry.
    Fire up one unit.
    Fire up next unit – now you have some redundancy.
    You can start to bring other power stations on-line.
    Once you have a few GW or so available, you can start supplying load to essential circuits – hospitals, traffic lights and so on. But these require “next level” (smaller substation) coordination as well.
    Slowly re-connect load and keep bringing power stations on-line, being careful that there is plenty of “spinning reserve” for each load that is connected, that the system remains stable while you are doing it.
    At least at the start, you have to do this fairly quickly – substations have batteries to keep remote control systems on-line, operate the local circuit breakers etc and the comms channels are private (such as fibre in power lines and low frequency radio over power lines aka “Power Line Carrier”). If you don’t get the load disconnected before the batteries go flat, you can’t restart without the physical presence of people at multiple locations.
    You need to get the “upper” part of the grid – generation and distribution – up and stable first, and keep it stable as you slowly power up the next level “down”. Lot’s of coordination required.


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  7. Tactically, distributed energy generation is actually less risky. Traditional generation is concentrated – large power stations in relatively few locations. PV is dispersed and even wind is quite widely spread compared with large unit generators. Of course, if someone is bombing you it probably makes little difference.


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  8. “Traditional generation is concentrated – large power stations in relatively few locations.”

    While that’s certainly true, the destruction/failure of any particular generator is unlikely to seriously affect grid stability – which is reliant, in NSW at least, on the 500kV lines between the “generation centres” on the NSW central coast and the “load centre” in Sydney. Take them down (the 500Kv lines) and grid stability is seriously degraded.
    Take down a generator, and sure – load shedding, blackouts etc, but loss of grid stability is unlikely.
    Take down the “backbone” feeders, and while the grid could stay up on the 330kV lines, the sheer distances and power flows involved could easily cause an “oscillation” as loads shift from one feeder to another in ever increasing amounts as synchronising power increases. Once one feeder trips on overload, it becomes worse, and cascades into a system black event.


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  9. kneel’s comment – in addition, when firing up the second and subsequent generators, please pay attention to “phase matching”, or you’ll likely have some more fun! Doing this kind of thing is not for the faint hearted.

    We’ll probably lose these skills eventually and only a few old guys will know what to do, then we’ll bring in foreigners to do it for us at great expense.

    “Climate 200 Sirens” .. ha ha, good one. We have one in Kooyong whose pitch is something like “I’m a doctor so I know how to make inportant medical decisions”, probably does, but we’re not asking our local member about the runny nose or new aches and pains .. sheesh!

    Most of us remember how useless Petro Georgio was when our local member, so porbably unlikely the good doctor will get a guernsey, we’ve lived with disenfranchisement and don’t wish to return to it. At least young Josh has a bit of get up and go, heard him smack back the usual ABC gotcha questions on the radio this morning about wechat accounts. Cunningly done as they “ran out of time, a quick answer please, treasurer”, he don’t fall for it and pushed back .. and the ABC person then had enough time for a couple of rounds of argument!

    have a good day


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  10. Interesting how quickly Germany has gone from refusing to pay for Nato defence to confirming 2%+ defence spending – and not just on extra broom handles!
    So possible for politicians to pivot when reality bites – maybe some hope energy policies will also when push comes to shove?
    Of course, not possible overnight by any means!


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  11. duncanm. Can’t make head nor tail of that table. Can anyone else work it out?

    Main difficulty: Daily Deficit 740,916 Barrels
    Imports 302,855 Barrels

    Exports 215,925 Barrels

    Looks like there are 438,000 barrels missing per day, even before you consider exports. Help!


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  12. However, it was not a complete solution for the Germans, whose loss of Romanian oilfields and Allied bombing of their synthetic fuel plants eventually crippled them.

    Like all motorised armies before and since, they discovered that combat chews fuels at a much faster rate than projections.

    Even so, to meet projections(not actual) demand they needed at least another Romania.


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  13. Like all motorised armies before and since, they discovered that combat chews fuels at a much faster rate than projections.

    That’s where military EVs come in, they’ll never need need to worry about fuel. [/sarc]


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  14. In sum, we are so vulnerable that we better start drafting the surrender letter in case someone threatens us.

    The letter has already been sent. That was when the government blew up the coal fired power station in South Australia and cheered!


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  15. I’m sure there are wiser heads than I here, but here goes:

    Isn’t it time we said “Stuff the world, let’s do our own energy.”? Not “green” energy, but ENERGY.

    We have coal. We have uranium. We have thorium. We have uncharted deposits of unfracked stuff that will keep us going for centuries. We have LPG.

    It’s a disgrace that we hang on to cr*p like the “three mines policy”, etc.

    It’s a disgrace that we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot over and over and over.

    It seems Australians aren’t the plucky, adventurous, canny people we style ourselves to be after the spirit of the Anzacs and the outback.

    We’re a craven, over-cautious, myth-believing, conformist group of total ninnies, slavishly wearing masks into supermarkets days after our Medical Officer Overlords had pontificated that it’s OK not to wear them!

    We can change! At least I hope so. Or we’re well and truly screwed.

    Where’s Donald Trump when you need him? He could fix all this with his little finger.


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  16. We’re a craven, over-cautious, myth-believing, conformist group of total ninnies,

    The Australian pattern historically seems to have been to beg government to save them when the first forays into uncharted territory go sour.

    And that, sadly, seems to go back as far as the earliest colonial days.


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  17. And frankly, if the Chicoms took over, I’d be sad, but not totally outraged.

    “Use it or lose it.”

    Oh, but boys who identify as girls should be able to play in girls sports and go into their change rooms. FFS.


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  18. I suspect energy security will bevome6 a big issue in Europe but not here.
    We will happily continue destroying our stable energy grid legacy.
    You only have to look at the Australian celebrating al, the top “green ” people.
    We are fucked.


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  19. I was behind a guy in a Tesla in traffic in Brisbane this morning.

    His number plate:

    CO2 Zero

    Talk about virtue signalling. Completely lacks awareness of where the power comes from to charge his battery.


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  20. “Also, what would be most cheaply and swiftly replaced in the event of an attack or natural disaster. A acre of solar panels and a dozen windmills or a billion dollar fossil fuel plant?”

    Surely you cant be serious. You seriously think those things are equivalents?

    I reality energy infrastructure of all kinds is easily destroyed or disabled. A few strategic hits in distribution will rapidly reduce delivery to zero without destroying generation you may want later.


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  21. “Tactically, distributed energy generation is actually less risky.”

    not when you cant do anything useful with it “tactically”
    a bunch of diffuse, low power, intermittent generators wont do much heavy lifting


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