Monday, March 06, 2017

Does Denmark have the reliable "renewable" electricity that eludes "Green" South Australia?

Someone below is not telling the whole story.  Unmentioned is the Skagerrak interconnector between Denmark and Norway -- which enables Denmark to import Nowegian hydro-power when the wind isn't blowing. There are also interconnecters to Sweden and Germany that import coal and nuclear power when the wind isn't blowing.  And sometimes the wind is so still that it provides virtually no power to Denmark.

And the statement that on "Samso, an island in Denmark, renewables provide 100 per cent of the electricity" is misleading.  On Samso, electricity is generated using a mix of wind, solar and straw-fired power plants.  If straw-fired power plants are renewable so are coal-fired plants.  There is no likelihood of running out of either straw or coal. 

Also unmentioned is the cost factor, but it is  known that Denmark has paid heavily for its wind plants and some 2010 figures suggest that  Denmark's wind industry is almost completely dependent on taxpayer subsidies, and Danes pay the highest electricity rates of any industrialised nation.

Further, when the wind does decide to blow, Denmark sends fully half of its very expensive, taxpayer-subsidized wind power to its neighbors at cut rates, in return for said neighbors dialing up or down its hydro power or nukes at other times (which, most of the time, means "up").

As ever, it's a very different story when you know the facts that the Green/Left leave out.  It's fake news below

THE man who helped create the world’s first 100 per cent renewable island, and who lives in a country that gets 50 per cent of its electricity from wind and other sources, says he has to travel to Australia for a blackout.

Soren Hermansen told that blackouts are not common in Denmark, which gets about 50 per cent of its electricity from renewables. “I have to go to Australia to deal with a blackout, we never have blackouts, this is not bragging,” he said. “We have a very powerful grid — we don’t experience any failure.”

Denmark has managed to successfully integrate its renewables into its electricity system but it has also avoided some of the problems that Australia is experiencing by burying its distribution lines underground.

This helps avoid blackouts caused by severe weather, which led to South Australia’s statewide blackout in October.

While underground cabling would be very expensive to implement in Australia, taking out the storm factor, Mr Hermansen said Denmark’s system showed it was possible to successfully integrate renewable energy into the electricity network and create a stable system — without reliance on coal-fired power.

Debate has been raging in Australia about whether the country needs coal-fired power to provide a stable electricity system, in light of the a number of blackouts in South Australia, which gets about 40 per cent of it electricity from renewables.

But even on Samso, an island in Denmark where renewables provide 100 per cent of the electricity, Mr Hermansen said supply was very stable.

The island has a cable connecting it to the mainland but Mr Hermansen said it was used “rarely”, maybe two to three per cent of the time, at a maximum.

Most of the time, the island is a net exporter of electricity to the mainland.

Samso is an island of about 4000 people, and gets its electricity mainly from wind turbines, both on the island and offshore.

Five of the 10 offshore wind turbines are owned by the local government, three are privately owned mainly by local farmers who pooled their money to fund the project, and the last two are owned by a co-operative of small investors.

Mr Hermansen spoke at the national Community Energy Congress in Melbourne this week, and said local community support was one of the keys to creating a successful renewables grid.

“It requires people to be educated and informed, and to take responsibility for energy consumption and generation,” he said.

“(In the past) they were just consumers in a shop buying energy ... they got a bill every month, they paid it and that’s it.”

Nowadays electricity grids are becoming decentralised. Consumers can participate in the energy system, through things like installing rooftop solar panels that feed energy into the grid or by contributing to community electricity projects.

There are already community-funded solar projects in Australia, including an investor fund that raised $17,500 from 150 people to install a 29.9kW solar farm on the roof of Young Henry’s Brewery in Sydney.

It’s these types of community projects that are helping to generate electricity in Denmark.

Wind power alone produces about 40 per cent of Denmark’s electricity and the country aims to increase this by 100 per cent by 2050.

Power stations help generate the rest but instead of burning coal, many of them use local materials.

Power stations in forested areas are fed with wood chips, those in farming areas used manure and in the city, waste is incinerated.

The country is also innovative in its heating system, developing district heating networks to collect hot water or steam produced by power stations and transport this via water pipes to heat surrounding homes.

This supplies more than 60 per cent of homes in Denmark with heating and hot water. “It reduces our dependency on oil and also produces electricity,” Mr Hermansen said.

Denmark’s last coal fired power station has been decommissioned but is on standby mode until 2024. There is also some natural gas and LNG powered gas stations to help make up any shortfalls.

“The energy sector said this was not possible 10 to 15 years ago but it is happening now with no impact on industry or the security of the system,” Mr Hermansen said.

When asked whether Australia could follow Denmark’s lead, Mr Hermansen said while he didn’t know all the details of the system but it seemed viable.

“You have a lot of natural resources, there’s a lot of wind and other materials,” he said.


"Green" SA faces more power woes after generator goes offline

They just don't have enough baseload capacity after they turned off their coal-fired stations.  Any unusual event can now throw them.  They have virtually no capacity in reserve.  So when bad things happen they struggle to cope.  They need those coal-fired generators. There is no alternative

South Australians have been asked to conserve electricity and consider turning off appliances to avoid potential load-shedding after three units at Torrens Island Power Station went offline following spot fires.

Four spot fires and a possible explosion at the power plant resulted in three units generating a combined 400 megawatts of power going offline at 3:33pm.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) also reported a loss of 200 megawatts of power from the nearby Pelican Point Power Station, which tripped as a result of the Torrens Island incident.

It has asked the market to respond, declaring there was a lack of reserve power available in SA.

There are fears this could lead to load-shedding — ordered by AEMO when power demand outstrips supply — and which most recently led to 90,000 Adelaide customers being switched off during a heatwave in February.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said South Australians should turn off all non-essential items when they go home tonight, such as dishwashers and washing machines.

"AEMO has requested as a precautionary measure to help avoid potential load-shedding that people conserve electricity and run air conditioners at a higher temperature of about 26 degrees," he said.

"To meet the drop in supply and manage risk within the system, AEMO has directed available additional generation to turn on."

A Metropolitan Fire Service spokesperson said they sent four appliances to the site and "on arrival found that on-site AGL personnel had extinguished a series of small spot fires using dry power fire extinguishes".

Torrens Island is the state's largest power generator, with a total of eight gas-fired units that generate up to 1,280 megawatts.

It was not clear how many units were in use at the time of the outage and the extent of the damage and time it will take to be repaired remains unknown.

The reliability of SA's power supply has been a controversial topic since September last year when wild weather resulted in a state-wide blackout.

Another blackout occurred in December, when an electrical fault on the Victorian side of the border prompted the failure of the Heywood Interconnector, which was contributing about 220 megawatts into SA's mix

SA Power Networks said the cause of the Torrens Island fires was being investigated and did not appear to be caused by its distribution network.

Mr Koutsantonis said the outage was not caused by "some inherent fragility of the system" but was due to fires and the close proximity of large generators to each other.

"The restart is occurring during a very high demand [period]," he said. "Is it frustrating? Yes absolutely.

"The important thing here now is rather than a blame game is to try and help people help the market operator manage the system for the next couple of hours by keeping the demand low."

Wholesale power prices in SA spiked and hit the maximum allowable limit of $14,000 per megawatt hour.


Next populist showdown is all about immigration

The populist tide now surges towards a truly big target — Australia’s immigration intake, which was lauded by Donald Trump this week as a model — with the anti-immigration arguments based around city congestion, housing affordability, centralisation problems and the Muslim integration issue.

Tony Abbott has called for reduced immigration in recognition this is now the de facto stance of much of the conservative Right. Pauline Hanson wants a halt to further immigration. Liberal defector Cory Bernardi has called for the intake to be halved on economic grounds and expresses alarm about Muslim immigration. And Trump is invoked at nearly every stage of this political campaign.

There is a rich field of grievance for exploitation and Hanson is its most lethal manipulator. “High immigration is only beneficial to multinationals, banks and big business seeking a larger market while everyday Australians suffer from this massive intake,” she said in her maiden speech in the Senate. “Our city roads have become parking lots. Schools are bursting at the seams. Our aged and sick are left behind to fend for themselves. I call for a halt to further immigration and for government to look after our aged, the sick and the helpless.”

There is now intense competition between the Turnbull government and Shorten opposition over cracking down on the 457 visa system for temporary foreign workers. Bill Shorten flirts with his own version of Trump’s populist America-first mantra, saying he believes in “buy Australian, build Australian, employ Australian”.

Trump has made the attack on illegal migrants and Muslim immigration central to his presidency. In Britain, the absence of border controls was pivotal to the Brexit result, while migrant numbers and controls will be critical in the European elections, notably in France.

Australia’s situation is conspicuously different to that of both the US and Europe but it is idle to think such sentiments will not resound here. The immigrant issue or “big Australia” bogy lurks permanently below the surface, waiting to be unleashed.

Yet the foundations of Australia’s immigration policy, built over decades of trial and error, are far superior to that of nearly every other developed nation. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton tells Inquirer: “My approach as minister has been to return to and restore the Howard values and approach to immigration. This means we don’t have to apologise for seeking the best people from around the world to come to this country, and there are currently about 65 million people looking to migrate. We don’t need to be embarrassed about this.

“The objectives of our program are to employ Australians first but commit to skilled migration based on integrity and public confidence in the scheme. That means a hard-nosed approach. The immigration program is not some feel-good exercise. Our goal is to bring to this country people who will work, earn, contribute, educate their children and learn English.”

The principles are entrenched: strong border protection based on zero tolerance for asylum-seekers by boat; a lawful entry program geared heavily to the economy and labour market; separate principles for permanent and temporary entry; and a settlement philosophy geared to integration and embrace of Australian norms despite the radical wing of the multicultural lobby seeking to undermine this.

The test, however, is surely coming. In his speech nine days ago, Abbott drew the nexus between immigration and housing affordability, saying: “If we end the ‘big is best’ thinking of the federal Treasury and scaled back immigration (at least until housing starts and infrastructure have caught up), we can take the pressure off home prices.”

He warned that Australia had “land in abundance” but “Sydney’s house prices are close to Hong Kong’s”. The risk is obvious: linking house prices and immigration will become a media fashion and populist cause.

It is idle to pretend there is no relationship between immigra­tion, as it fuels demand, and house prices, but to justify major changes to the migrant intake on the basis of housing prices (as opposed to other demand and supply factors) lacks any sense of proportion.

The anti-immigration wave moves in cycles. Recall that when Julia Gillard became prime minister she launched a cynical Hansonite assault, exploiting Kevin Rudd’s blunder in calling for a big Australia. Gillard repudiated this notion, saying it was “time to reconsider whether our growth model was right” and declaring that our “clean beaches and precious open spaces” must be protected. It was a focus group project.

As part of his current tactics to fight for Australian workers, Shorten accuses some companies of exploitation and says nurses, carpenters, cooks, childhood educators, electricians and motor mechanics are missing out because “too many work visas are being used as a low-cost substitute for employing an Australian”. It slots perfectly into the crackdown demanded by the trade unions.

For Hanson, lower immigration is a crusade. She has generated huge support for immigration cuts from the conservative media bandwagon that promotes her. In her maiden speech Hanson said: “We have reached a population of 24 million this year, 17 years ahead of prediction. Governments have continually brought in high levels of immigration, so they say, to stimulate the economy. This is rubbish. The only stimulation that is happening is welfare handouts — many going to migrants unable to get jobs.”

Hanson’s campaign has a heavy religious bias. There is no doubt that Australia, like other Western nations, has a Muslim integration problem. But Hanson pushes this to intolerable extremes, saying: “Now we are in danger of being swamped by ­Muslims who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.”

There is no point simply condemning Hanson. She has a misconceived response to one of the challenges of the age. Political progressives seem clueless about the extent to which ordinary Australians are worried about the ability of Muslims to integrate. The issue needs to be confronted, not denied, but banning Muslim immigration cannot be an answer for Australia.

In relation to the economic and housing impact of immigration, Reserve Bank governor Phil Lowe said recently: “I am fond of telling visitors 40 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. I wouldn’t want to give up that kind of advantage just for property ­prices.”

It may be elitist but the point is valid. Immigration is pivotal to Australia’s economic and social success during the age of globalisation (and it’s not going to disappear despite Trump).

The relatively good news is that Australia is buttressed to some extent to meet the coming political onslaught. Our immigration program is even more geared than normal to economic and labour market needs. Net migration numbers (permanents plus temporaries) have been slashed by more than a third from their record high under Rudd. The 457 temporary worker visa program has been reduced and tightened under the Coalition.

Net overseas migration peaked at a huge 305,900 in the 12 months to March 2009. It became the zenith of the big Australia beloved by Rudd, who had genuine ambitions to build up Australia’s global weight. Since then, no prime minister has used the phrase, as the implications are too electorally risky.

In the current climate, any figure beyond 300,000 annually would be untenable in both economic and political terms. Officials looking back on that period are apt to use the phrase “out of control”. The peak was driven by student visa programs in which an education and migrant package could, in effect, be purchased together. Labor subsequently removed these concessions.

The net overseas migration figure (which counts people if they are onshore for 12 out of the previous 16 months) has fallen on a sustained basis to around 170,000 in 2014-15 with the current government using the working assumption of a 1 per cent annual increase to labour force growth, meaning numbers in the 160,000 to 2000,000 range.

Looking at the main component, the permanent immigration intake, the story has been a model of stability for a number of years. It sits at a 190,000 annual cap, extending from Labor’s final year through the entire Abbott-Turnbull period. This intake is high by our historical norms and high in per capita terms judged against other developed nations. To a large extent, this reflects Australia’s superior economic growth performance. Scott Morrison reminded us this week that Australia is growing faster than any of the G7 countries.

In his recent speech to the Australia-Canada Forum, Lowe said both nations had strong population growth for advanced industrial economies but that over the past decade Australia’s population growth had averaged 1.7 per cent compared with Canada at 1.1 per cent, though these rates were now coming closer together.

In relation to 457 visas, there has been a sharp downward trend since the peak that reflected Labor-initiated ambitions for foreign workers. Under Labor, the program expanded from about 70,000 to 110,000 in September 2013. Now Malcolm Turnbull and Dutton are hammering Shorten for his hypocrisy.

The current 457 numbers are running at 81,000.

“We are cleaning it (the 457 program) up because Labor made a mess of this migration program when they were in government,” Dutton says. “During the glory years of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd during which the Leader of the Opposition was the employment minister, the number of 457 visa, primary visa holders, went from 68,0000 to 110,000 people. This was at the time the Leader of the Opposition, the then employment minister, was saying to Australians that he was putting workers first.”

Shorten, in reply, has pointed to the resources boom as justification. The bigger point is that the politics are now pointing one way — limiting the number of 457 visas while still trying to cater for the demands of the economy.

Dutton says the government will run migration policy according “to the settings that are most effective”. This means “we can’t take people that don’t have the required skills or that can’t make the economic contribution we want”.

The feature of the program these days is the heavy bias to skills over family reunion compared with the pre-Howard era. For instance, in 2015-16 the family numbers were 57,400, compared with the skilled component running at 128,550.

“It was the Howard government that rightly set in place the fundamentals that exist today,” Dutton says. “They were abandoned during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period. But we have now returned to those principles.”

In the debate about immigration there are four benchmarks: the program has been a vital driver for economic growth; new migrants lower the age profile of the population; without ­migrants, the worker-retiree ratio would be worse; and migrants are vital in a connected world assisting our global networks.


Prejudice against Tasmanians?

Interstate rivalry is mostly a jocular affair in Australia but Tasmanians do seem to have a tendency to be more bothered by it than they should

INFERIORITY complex? Has political correctness spread from race, colour and gender to geography?  Yes, I choked on my organic, certified GM-free muesli with soy last week when I saw the front-page headline in the River City press: “Bullied for being Tasmanian”.

It was the story of an accountant working in Perth who was given a bad time for being from Tasmania.  “I was regularly the butt of office jokes,” he was reported as saying. “Jokes right to my face about me buying lunch from Subway, that I liked Hungry Jack’s, [about] my jumper, my mug [and] that I came from Tasmania.”

Well, in that order, initially I wondered if the bullying might have been more to do with his diet, the jumper and the mug, rather than state of origin.

Anyway he sued his accounting firm, one of the nation’s largest, and it stumped up $120,000 in damages, which should easily cover the cost of his relocation to the gentler confines of Tasmania.

I don’t know how bad the bullying was but I do know that if I had $120,000 for every time in my long career on the big island someone made a joke about me coming from Tasmania, I would now be spending winters in my beachside mansion at Byron.

As one of my bosses once told me when I was pitching a story about my home state: “Charlie, no one gives a rat’s about your crumb-bum, two-headed, inbred little island. There’s not a ratings point in the place.” I didn’t invoke section 18C but I did look annoyed.

“Maaate,” he cajoled. “Don’t go spiralling off with your nightie on fire back down to your rellies in Black Bob’s Country. Why don’t you just get a seat up the front on the next plane to New York? You can interview Hugh Jackman and stay at the Ritz Carlton.”

Well, that must have been $120,000 worth. Tassie was defended and honour was satisfied.

Maybe we are a touch thin-skinned in Tasmania. We grow up in a remote and protected little green bubble where bad things rarely happen – unless you are a marsupial. But when they happen to us, boy, do we remember them.

During recent reminiscing about the 1967 bushfires, a local historian worried that publishing too much detail might be traumatic for those who survived the ordeal.

Very down-home Tasmanian, I thought. Even historians are anxious about bringing up the past.

More than 40 years after the ship hit the span, we still close down the Tasman Bridge whenever a carrier sails under it.

Actuaries tell me the chance of it happening again is a more remote chance than winning a TattsLotto jackpot. But where optimists might say, “Well, someone’s got to win”, Tasmanians will likely say, “Well, someone’s got to lose.”

I get it. Growing up here, I too am a glass-half-empty kind of bloke. I expect the worst. That way, I am rarely disappointed.

I hardly dare mention Port Arthur, except that it so well represents the Tasmanian quandary of whether to remember or forget. I think there is good reason to forever consign the random half-witted maniac killer of April 1996 into outer-darkness and never again mention his name.

On the other hand, there is every reason for remembering the stark horrors of the penal settlement. It is a vital part of our history and the convict system has defined who we are, and is still in play in the high-handed attitude of the authorities in our daily lives.

By the 1880s, there was a movement abroad to destroy all trace of the place and so remove the “convict stain”.

When it comes to the inconvenient past, we could take advice from grand old Persian poet Omar Khayyam;

“The moving finger writes, and having writ,

Moves on; nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line

Nor all they tears wash out a Word of it.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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