What is this shift to wind & solar?

How many times have you read something like this? Written by an experienced member of the press corps.

The shift to renewable energy is unstoppable and accelerating. The role for gas and coal will rapidly diminish as renewable technology advances to ensure a cheap, clean and reliable supply of power.

Fact checking: Where in the world has that happened, apart from Norway, which is practically built for hydroelectric power and the economy floats on exports of oil, gas and herrings?

Mark Mills reports that the reduction in the contribution of hydrocarbons to worldwide total energy consumption has declined from about 86% to 84% over two decades.  

This suggests that the shift has just about stopped, especially as some countries are getting back into coal (Germany) and many are accelerating their consumption (China, India and the rest of the developing world.)

In Australia the retreat from coal has hardly progressed since the closure of Hazelwood in 2017. See here for a shot of the Hazelwood towers coming to earth.

When Hazelwood closed, AEMO warned that we were travelling with dangerously diminished spare capacity. This meant that further reduction in coal capacity could be catastrophic and we have survived so far by heroic load shedding during critical periods (Jan 2019, June 2022) and (largely invisible) deindustrialization.

In the same year that Hazelwood closed, Audrey Zibelman arrived from the United States to head up AEMO and set the course for energy policy going forward. She was greeted as a breath of fresh air by  RenewEconomy.


Audrey Zibelman has only been in Australia and in her role as chief executive of the Australian Energy Market Operator for six weeks, but already her views on the changes needed to adapt rapidly to a modern grid and new technologies are being described – both within her organisation, and in the broader energy industry – as a breath of fresh air.

Never before has Australia had a senior executive in the energy industry being so up-front about the possibilities of new technologies, and so enthusiastic about the changes that lie ahead. She is convinced the gird will change dramatically, and will be cheaper, cleaner, smarter and more reliable. And focused around the consumer.


When she left in 2020 the Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, thanked her for her service, especially for her influence in developing the Integrated System Plan “to ensure that we will have affordable, reliable, clean and secure energy with record investment in renewables.”

Zibelman was a strange choice for the role, a failed software vendor with political connections, she was a potential Energy Secretary if Hilary Clinton had won the US Presidency. Her most visible contribution was to stump the country promising the trifecta of clean, cheap and reliable power and her most potent influence was to stack the AEMO with green zealots. That ambition was recorded in another interview with RenewEconomy shortly before she departed to conquer fresh fields of endeavour with Google X.  

She should probably be extradited and brought back to face a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Her legacy project, the Integrated System Plan for the future of the national grid (the NEM) has been subjected to a forensic review by serious professionals and condemned as simply unworkable – certain to lead to energy shortages, high prices and perpetual subsidies. They say the plan fails to provide analysis of whole-of-system, whole-of-life costs and emissions, nor a proper comparison of alternatives. Attempting to reach Net-Zero with renewable wind and solar means much higher costs and impoverishment, especially for those on lower incomes. The renewables transformation of our electricity sector, driven by a doubtful need for Net Zero carbon emissions, is a monumental mistake.  Here are a dozen reasons.

Of course penetration of wind and solar has increased, in line with installed capacity, as AEMO likes to record with a new tab on the Data Dashboard.

However there is a world of difference between DISPLACING coal and REPLACING it.

Everyone needs to understand that the exit of coal is limited by the lowest level of wind and solar output on nights with little or no wind, as a convoy travels at the speed of the slowest vessel, the water penetrates the levee at the lowest point, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link and stock get out of the yard through gaps even if the rest of the fence is built to the sky.

As long as periods with effectively zero solar and wind power persist, 100% backup from conventional power will still be required, assuming that we want security of supply. This means that we will have to keep burning coal until nuclear power is on deck.

If the Zibelman appointment was strange, replacing her with Daniel Westerman was bizarre. He was one of the planners who guided the implementation of net zero policies in the British electricity system. Have a look at the cost and reliability of the British power supply at present with the eye of a car-buyer and ask yourself if you would want a second-hand energy policy from that yard!

Greens mugged by reality

In north Queensland the useful idiots of the not-so-green environmental movement have been mugged by reality at Chalumbin. After spending years closing down forest-related industries and putting their neighbours out of work they find that the not-so-green wind industry is coming to get their trees and wildlife. You could say it serves them right.

Short films of environmental destruction in Queensland.

Saving the planet?

Kaban film particularly instructive.

Upper Burdekin  https://vimeo.com/706882264

Kaban   https://vimeo.com/633451905

Chalumbin   https://vimeo.com/582415839


Not for the faint-hearted.


Due to the Iron Triangle that locks conventional power in place ( if you want to keep the lights on.)

The triangle, three laws of power supply.

1.There has to be continuous input, like the unbroken fence if you want to keep stock in (or out).

2. Due to wind droughts there will be “breaks” in the fence and on nights with little or no wind there is effectively no wind and solar power.

3. There is no feasible and affordable, grid-scale storage in sight.

 Until that changes all our conventional power will have to be maintained and supplemented by nuclear power.

End of story.

South Australia is indeed the wind-leader because it regularly demonstrates the failure of wind and solar to replace conventional coal and gas. For example this morning at sunrise SA was importing 44% of its consumption from Victoria where over 80% of the power was being generated from brown coal.

Popper on Rules and Orders

The catastrophic state of the gas market in Australia demonstrates the failure of Labor’s new economics practically before the ink is dry on Jim Chalmers’s forthcoming manifesto in The Weekly. A piece in the Fin Review today tells the grisly tale. If you think we had problems with power prices last year, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

This illustrates a principle that Popper briefly expounded in The Open Society and Its Enemies, that is the distinction between using rules and orders for public administration.

The particular concern is the reasonable price provisions that are proposed.  Who is going to make the call on “reasonable prices”? 

Given the blatant return to central planning we can only fear the worst

Popper offered some telling comments  on the kind of legislative and administrative arrangements that are required for the state to intervene without allowing dangerous discretionary powers to be assumed by politicians or bureaucrats, especially when they are representing various special interests. Possibly influenced by correspondence with Hayek, Popper proposed that state intervention should proceed by way of protective laws and a legal framework instead of empowering organs or agents of the state to act as they see fit to achieve the ends laid down by the rulers at the time.

The introduction of piecemeal reforms permits the application of the method of trial and error to make adjustments in the light of experience in slowly changing the permanent legal framework. In contrast discretionary decisions by politicians and civil servants are short-term, often reflexive and opportunistic, and are not usually subjected to public discussion and scrutiny before they are launched.

The legal framework should be designed to be understandable and predictable, providing a degree of certainty and security in social life.  So in Popper’s view, when the framework is altered, allowances should be made, during a transitional period, for those individuals who have laid their plans in the expectation of its constancy.

Popper concluded “As opposed to this, the method of personal intervention [think of Presidential executive orders over the head of Congress in the US] must introduce an ever-growing element of unpredictability into social life, and with it will develop the feeling that social life is irrational and insecure. The use of discretionary powers is liable to grow quickly, once it has become an accepted method, since adjustments will be necessary, and adjustments to discretionary short-term decisions can hardly be carried out by institutional means. This tendency must greatly increase the irrationality of the system, creating in many the impression that there are hidden powers behind the scenes, and making them susceptible to the conspiracy theory of society with all its consequences – heresy hunts, national, social, and class hostility.”

To learn all about Popper’s critique of Marx, and other things

Listen to it. An audible version of a short guide to Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies.

Or read it on kindle.

Or read on paper in The Popper Guides.

Real Liberal Leadership

Shame on Liberal leaders

Who didn’t have the balls to say this.

Something strange has been happening in conservative politics. The
Liberal Party is being told that the only way it can cling onto power
(or win it back) is if the party panders to the demands of women.
Women are out. Women are the reason Morrison lost the election.
Women are flocking to the left. Women are angry. Women have the
hots for pandemic doctors. Women are going Teal. It’s a never-ending barrage of excuses moderates encourage because they think the ‘fix’ for power involves the easy adoption of female quotas. That’ll do it, right?

If the Liberals keep up with this sort of nonsense, they really will have a ‘women’ problem.
The narrative did not originate from the blue-ribbon base. It was
started by a relentless Labor marketing campaign. The media quite
liked throwing pink click-bait around and so it persisted, but there
was never any detail behind the fiction.
Liberal leaders allowed the untrue accusation to sit unchallenged
through several election cycles until it was ‘assumed’ as fact. Which is what happens to those who refuse to fight the culture wars.
Before his loss, dozens of publications insisted that Morrison had a
‘women problem’ but none could cite what that problem actually was.

Toward the end of his time, Morrison foolishly accepted this empty
hashtag and decided to drag it through the election on some
misguided walk of atonement…

Alexandra Marshall


The narrative did not originate from the blue-ribbon base. It was
started by a relentless Labor marketing campaign. The media quite
liked throwing pink click-bait around and so it persisted, but there
was never any detail behind the fiction.
Liberal leaders allowed the untrue accusation to sit unchallenged
through several election cycles until it was ‘assumed’ as fact. Which is what happens to those who refuse to fight the culture wars.

Sensible Centre on The Voice

This is another take on the situation, some of it I find agreeable and some I don’t. What about you?


1. Set an end date for the culture wars on race and culture;
2. Complete land claims, truth-telling exercises, and place name changes by this date;
3. End the divisive practice of ‘Welcome to / Acknowledgement of Country’;
4. Replace the British Crown with an Australian Head of State;
5. Replace the 3 current Australian flags in official use with a new unifying national flag;
6. Reject the proposal for a permanent divisive ‘Voice to Parliament’;
7. End race-based programs and entitlements in government;
8. Introduce a Reconciliation Day public holiday on 27 January 2026 to mark the historic settlement of these issues and replace Australia Day on 26 January as our official national day.

Rafe’s Roundup 1 Feb

Drop in and see what they are up to!

The Energy Realists of Australia Jo Nova Quadrant on line

IPA         Climate and energy program  CIS          The Sydney Institute

Menzies Research Centre  Mannkal Economics Education Foundation          

Advance Australia  Taxpayers Alliance  Australian Inst for Progress

The Conservative Vagabond The Rathouse and The Site of Kilmeny Niland

The menace of Tik Tok

Get Briefed

The collected briefing notes from the Energy Realists of Australia are available on our site, augmented by plain English statements of the key points.

On Green Hydrogen:

Government decisions to allocate substantial funds to “hydrogen hubs” are based on wishful thinking among green advisors in the bureaucracy.

Grants for developing green hydrogen should be subjected to cost-benefit analysis over short to medium terms.

When all the green hydrogen projects around the world come on stream there will be a glut on the market!

On the Capacity of “big batteries”:

False and misleading claims about the firming capacity of so-called “big batteries” must cease to enable a sensible debate about the future of the power supply.

For a start, journalists who rate the capacity of batteries in MW instead of MWhrs should be promptly escorted from the building, with their personal effects thrown into the street after them.

On School Teaching:

Many cohorts of school students have been subjected to green propaganda by activist teachers and lately by the common curriculum. The level of public debate cannot be expected to improve until  this is corrected by a coast to coast parents’ revolt to save our schools.

On The Impossible Transition to Green Energy:

The Energy Security Board was supposed to suggest market reforms to expedite the energy transition but they contemplated a continuing role for gas and coal so they were sent to the naughty corner.

The responsible bodies in the various states are now stuck with the problem and soon they will have to find a way to keep the coal fires burning. This will be interesting to watch.

Take the White Pill!

A message from Michael Malice by way of Dara Macdonald.

The White Pill is an alternative to the Blue Pill, the Red Pill and the Black Pill.

Michael Malice traced the rise of the Soviet Union and its outposts in every country in the world, from the bloody revolution through the catalogue of horrors, the secret police, the torture chambers, the show trials, the labor camps and the mass starvation. There were always people in the West prepared to justify the bloodshed in defence of the evil empire. But then it fell (or did we speak too soon?) Still, for Malice and Macdonald the fall is a message that the good must never give up hope. This is the White Pill.

The Red Pill opens our eyes to some harsh facts of reality, the Blue Pill is a narcotic that enables us to ignore the facts and the Black Pill prompts apathy and resignation in the belief that nothing can be done about it.

The rise and fall of the Soviet Union is proof that the progressive version of history (as popularised today by Steven Pinker and Francis Fukuyama) that things are always getting better is plain wrong, but so are the nihilists that say that things will only get worse. 

In other words, the White Pill view is the most factual as it says that things can get both dramatically worse AND drastically better. 

What is most important is that WE don’t believe that everything is doomed, if we do, then the downward trajectory will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we continue to take the Black Pill and get our negative expectations confirmed by the media we consume we will demoralise ourselves out of taking action

Take a White Pill daily, or even three times a day, with or without your favourite beverage, and get on to live, love and leave a legacy by doing whatever can be done. Someone whose name eludes me once said that we can all aspire to make the world a little bit better every day in our own way, be it ever so humble. 

Someone else put a citation from Edmud Burke in his email signature “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”

Our wombat energy minister

How many mistakes can the Climate Change and Energy Minister make in three sentences? According to Mark Ludlow and Angela Macdonald-Smith, writing in the Fin Review last Friday (20th), Mr Bowen said (1) the war in Ukraine was responsible for 90 per cent of the global electricity price rises last year. He said(2) the move towards renewable energy would make Australia’s energy market less exposed to global shocks.

And (3) “This targeted short-term response was necessary, but so is the long-term plan to increase the uptake of affordable, firmed renewable energy, to reduce our reliance on volatile overseas markets and power Australia’s future as a renewable energy superpower.”

Reality check. 1. Energy prices were going through the roof in Britain and the Continent early in 2021, a year before the invasion of Ukraine that started on Feb 24, 2022.

2. Regarding the impact of global shocks, we benefit from high export prices for coal but that does not inflate the price of coal burned locally. We would have no shortage of gas if the state governments in Victoria and NSW would only allow it to be extracted

3. As for becoming a renewable energy superpower by way of firmed wind and solar power, this is just a very bad joke.

What is going to provide the firming if we exit from coal? We have effectively no grid-scale firming at present and no amount of so-called “big batteries” will help.  Do the maths and compare the capacity of “big batteries” with the demand in the grid.  The same applies to pumped hydro. Even if Snowy2.0 is completed, it will provide intermittent power that only matches a fraction of a the output of a coal station like Liddell that it is supposed to replace.

A conservative vagabond guest post

The New Conflict of Visions

How new constrained/unconstrained religious visions produce the political polarisation of today

Dara Macdonal

I will explore the new conflict of visions that these new religions create and the political fall out of each, as follows:

  • Part 1: The Conflict of Visions
  • Part 2: Environmentalism
  • Part 3: Anti-racism
  • Part 4: Traditional Religious Visions and the Return of the Strong Gods 
  • Part 5: What can be done about this new religious war?