Why is Bernie Sanders very anti-business

Expensive power grid without a false floor

The standard bag of tricks involves ignoring system costs when every single (unreliable) megawatt of wind or sun has to be constantly backed up by another reliable medium from coal, gas, nuclear power or hydropower. Proponents refuse to recognize the costs for the electricity consumer: Favoring the producers of RE through prescribed purchase targets, priority feed-in, tax breaks and / or massive direct subsidies that exclusively benefit wind and sun; further, it ignores the cost of the additional transmission lines that arise when intermittent and diffuse energy sources are brought from remote locations (where they are produced) to the cities where the electricity is consumed. In the countryside, the destruction of once livable rural areas and communities is destroying value, including property depreciation. This goes so far that owners were forced to leave their houses because the pulsating, throbbing, low-frequency noise of the wind turbines became unbearable.

Late last year, Australia's CSIRO - the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - entered the battle with its own “pigs can fly” claims that wind and solar would be competitive with reliable power generation sources.

The CSIRO's 2018/2020 GenCost study touted AEMO and the usual suspects as the gold standard to demonstrate that wind and solar are cheaper than traditional electricity. This dangerous illusion was backed up by a comprehensive study submitted to the NSW Parliament over a year ago.

Here's another review from two Four Icebergs team members, Craig Brooking and Mike Bowden, the round-up of which follows.

A look back at the problems with Gencost 2018
Craig Brooking and Mike Bowden
December 2020


1.1 Background

In response to a letter from one of the authors of this study to his parliamentarian, the Minister for Energy and Environment stated: “The most economical form of reliable generation is expanded renewable energies. This leads to the greatest change in the history of our electricity system ”. The minister’s letter also recommended that the author obtain further information from the officer responsible if necessary.

The officer in charge was then contacted and her advice was sought on the reference for the Minister's declaration on the economic viability of renewable energies. The author was duly advised that the CSIRO publication 'GenCost 2018' was the source.

Base case 1 (Current electricity mix - NEM approximation), average Base load of 18,368 MW with constant electricity demand. This load plus daily peaks must be reliably supplied at all times. Currently in a mix with 78% coal plus combined gas turbine (CCGT), open gas turbine (OCGT), wind, solar PV and hydropower, some battery storage. The estimated cost are 68.87 USD / MWh.

Case 2 3,000 MW nuclear capacity in the mix of case 1 to replace lignite, total estimated cost 72,48 USD / MWh, ... Reduces emissions by around 23%.

Case 3 Replacing all coal in Case 1 with nuclear power. The emissions drop by around 93%, with the SLCOE on 90.23 USD / MWh increases .
[It could be much cheaper: switch off all wind and solar systems]

Case 4 Impact of the combination of generation technologies projected by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to 2040, as shown in its Integrated Systems Plan (ISP) of July 2018.

Case 5 Replace all coal in Case 1 with CCGT. Note that this shows a + $ 6.49 / MWh increase in SLCOE over Case 3 above, as well as a significant increase in emissions.

Case 6 100% renewable mixture of solar PV, wind and hydropower with the support of pump storage and some battery storage ... Solar PV and wind require an expansion to at least 110,000 MW. Plus 30,000 MW pumped storage capacity for 3 days, plus infrastructure - estimated SLCOE $ 415,50 I. MWh.

Recommendation Rafe Champion, 09/2020: In the long term, the existing ban on the development of nuclear energy for Australia must be lifted.

Has anyone ever said that saving the planet would be cheap?

GenCost 2018 was investigated and identified a number of potential shortcomings. GenCost 2018 pointed out in particular that " LCOE estimates in their current form can be misleading if they apply the same discount rate regardless of climate risk and inherently fail to recognize the required additional offsetting technology through variable renewable generation as their share in the generation mix increases. Given that the variable share of renewable energy is expected to rise to 50% or more in most Australian states, this is a problem that needs to be addressed. "

[Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) - electricity generation costs, conversion of a raw material into electricity including additional costs; CO2 tax e.g.]

Accordingly, a brief study was prepared to highlight the shortcomings and the New South Wales Government was asked to clarify. The government officials declined to provide any further information. The author was referred to the CSIRO and the correspondence was forwarded to the CSIRO without a response. It was decided [by the authors mentioned above] to carry out a more comprehensive analysis of the energy policy of the NSW government and to seek a meeting with the minister. This study is the result of this elaboration.

[CSIRO - The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is Australia's government agency for scientific and industrial research. Headquarters is Canberra, part of the Ministry of Industry, Science, Climate Change, Energy and Resources]

1.2 The question about carbon dioxide (CO2)
A brief study of the earth's geological history confirms that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has often changed dramatically over millions of years and the earth has not been destroyed.

It can therefore be concluded that the unproven hypothesis that anthropogenic CO2 emissions lead to runaway global warming should not play a serious role in the development of NSW's energy policy.

Accordingly, any discussion of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the price of carbon used in life cycle calculations has been removed from this study as it adds significant costs to the electricity system with no real benefit.

1.3 Methodology

A scenario was developed that included a modern, highly efficient, low-emission coal-fired power plant (HELE) that is similar to a power plant recently commissioned in Germany. There were also wind farms based on the Sapphire Wind Farm in NSW. In view of the known reliability problems with intermittent wind power plants, the wind farms in the scenario were supported either by open cycle gas turbines (OCGT) or combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT), with technical properties that reflect the wind turbines common on international markets.

The capital and operating costs for each technology were determined using data requested from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Calculations were performed to determine the cost per megawatt hour (MWh) of electrical energy and to compare the results.

The results showed that the cost per MWh generated by the HELE power plants was significantly lower than in the wind farms operated by OCGT or CCGT, indicating that fixed renewables are not the most economical form of reliable generation.

[HELE - High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) coal plants]

1.4 Replacing the NSW coal-fired power plants

There will be a single coal-fired power plant in NSW by 2035. The New South Wales Government's Electricity Strategy envisages a plan for the delivery of three Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) in the Central-West Orana, New England and South-West regions. This builds on the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy and supports the implementation of the Integrated System Plan of the Australian energy market operator. It is assumed that these REZ will replace the coal-fired power plants.

This study examined the cost of replacing coal-fired power plants with wind farms operated by OCGTs or CCGTs. These costs are significant and the question of who will pay these costs and what effect they will have on the retail price of electrical energy remains open.

1.5 The German experience

Germany has introduced the energy transition policy to replace its coal and nuclear power plants with wind, biomass and sun. The cost is enormous, however, and there is now significant public backlash against the resulting environmental degradation and increased electricity costs.

The installed nominal capacities of the combined German wind and solar plants are roughly twice as high as the average power requirement in this country. However, due to the intermittent nature of the wind and solar parks in connection with their low capacity factors, their electricity production cannot meet the demand that conventional German power plants and the energy imported from neighboring countries alone have supplied up to now. Australia's current planning puts it on a similar path to Germany; However, Australia does not have the luxury of electrically [still] well-equipped neighbors.

[The above graph cannot be compared with the Australian study, as it does not include any additional costs for renewables. In addition, no factor for coping / backing up the volatile feed-in of wind and solar power is included. - Find by the translator]

1.6 solar energy

Given that the capacity factor of solar energy on a large scale is lower than that of wind and therefore requires even more back-up performance and thus higher costs, it is difficult to justify the inclusion of solar energy in the electrical energy system. Accordingly, no detailed study of solar energy was carried out in this study.

1.7 Conclusions

This study shows that the costs per MW for reliable and predictable electrical energy generated by the HELE coal-fired power plants are considerably lower than the costs for renewable energies. Hence, the HELE technology should support the NSW government's energy strategy.

1.8 Recommendations
The NSW government:

  • Should review the electricity strategy and immediately implement a program to extend the life of the five existing coal-fired power plants.
  • Should immediately implement the construction of additional units in existing coal-fired power plants so that they can go into operation in a foreseeable time. For example Mt Piper. 1,400 MW coal-fired power station near Portland in central west New South Wales]
  • Should plan to replace the five coal-fired power plants with modern HELE coal-fired power plants at the end of their extended service life.
  • Should ensure that all generators for renewable energies (RE) can deliver their power indicated on the nameplate in a predictable manner and without subsidies and / or preferential treatment before they are connected to the transmission network.
  • Should ensure that the infrastructure required for such a connection has to be financed beforehand by the investor of this "renewable power source". [Where are they going !?]

The full study: Brooking & Bowden 2020 A review of the Problems with Gencost 2018
[An overview of the problems with Gencost 2018 - a WORD.doc opens]


Translated by Andreas Demmig



In the comments to the above