At first glance there would seem no connection between the eastern states’ energy crisis and In Praise of Folly, an erudite satire written by a Dutch scholar in 1509 at the home of a man later beheaded for treason. At the risk of meeting a similar fate, gentle reader, I hope to convince you there is such a connection.
The author of In Praise of Folly was Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. He wrote it at the London house of St Thomas More. For him, Folly was a wily goddess. Nursed by ignorance and inebriation, she praised self-deception and madness. As Erasmus put it, “In the kingdom of the blind, t’is folly to be wise.”
Folly, of course, appears in every age. Who can deny that life would be dull without her? She thrives among desperados searching for a “proper plan”. She loves cavorting with folk who believe they can control the climate. She is especially fond of those who insist the cause of a big problem – such as an energy crisis – is also its solution.
For shining a megawatt spotlight on such delusions – and inflating the optimism that swirls around renewable energy (RE) — Folly deserves a medal. So does the whole NetZero crowd, market experts and politicians who tell us a Code Black (CB) is avoidable, even if the energy grid is “not fit for purpose”, “vulnerable” and faces “unexpected challenges”. Perhaps an Order of Porcine Piffle (OPP), presented after a naked mid-winter dip in Tasmania’s Derwent River, might clear the heads of those determined to crash Australia’s economy.
We are told there have been a lot of smart people in the room – “the best minds in the business” – during the past decade. Folly tells me she’s sure that’s true. Yet somehow they were unable to prevent the current crisis or, if you prefer, “energy challenge”. How much confidence can we have that they can stop another one?
Things are desperate when one has to turn to Erasmus for advice: “No Man is wise at all Times, or is without his blind Side.”
In Praise of Folly came to mind again this month. On June 15, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) announced it was suspending the NEM wholesale market. Mr Daniel Westerman, AEMO’s CEO, said “price caps coupled with significant unplanned outages and supply chain challenges for coal and gas, were leading to generators removing capacity from the market.”
“We are confident today’s actions will deliver the best outcomes for Australian consumers, and as we return to normal conditions, the market-based system will once again deliver value to homes and businesses,” he said, adding
With the high number of units that were out of service and the early onset of winter, the reliance on directions has made it impossible to continue normal operation.
The current energy challenge in eastern Australia is the result of several factors – across the interconnected gas and electricity markets. In recent weeks in the electricity market, we have seen:
♦ A large number of generation units out of action for planned maintenance – a typical situation in the shoulder seasons.
♦ Planned transmission outages.
♦ Periods of low wind and solar output.
♦ Around 3000 MW of coal fired generation out of action through unplanned events.
♦ An early onset of winter – increasing demand for both electricity and gas.
Mr Westerman deserves our praise for his frankness: AEMO cannot control the weather. Yet one would have thought a routine risk analysis would have included scenarios with an “early onset of winter” and “periods of low wind and solar output”.
Mr Andrew Stock, a councillor at the Climate Council, would be a worthy recipient of an OPP, as would the Council’s Chief Councillor, Professor Tim Flannery. We can imagine how Folly and Mr Stock might have addressed the issue:
Folly: Mr Stock, you are quoted as saying Victoria and SA are apparently better placed to weather any power shortfall because of their push towards renewable energy sources.
Stock: Fortunately, states like Victoria and South Australia have been getting on with it anyway and they are reaping some of the benefits, and now Queensland and New South Wales are playing catch-up as fast as they can.
Folly: If we’re going to be honest about this, I just love it when the cause of a problem is promoted as its solution.
Another worthy recipient of an OPP would be Mr Christopher Bowen, the new Minister for Climate Change and Energy. According to a June 22 article in the Daily Mail Australia, the Minister was upset with a journalist for suggesting more coal was the answer to the energy crisis
Chris Bowen has furiously dismissed suggestions that prolonging coal-fired power is the solution to Australia’s energy crisis.
The Energy Minister fired-up in a press conference when he was challenged by a journalist about the unreliability of renewable energy. One of the reasons given for the National Electricity Market suspension on Wednesday was a lack of wind and solar power.
The journalist asked: ‘Isn’t part of the supply problem the fact that you cannot direct wind into the market? The only thing you can do is to keep the coal-fired generators going to their end of life and to fix the ones that you have got now and include them in the capacity market, isn’t that the short-term fix?’
Minister Bowen said the solution is to rapidly invest in renewable energy and storage – not more unreliable coal power.
‘The problem is there is not enough investment in renewable energy. There hasn’t been enough investment in storage,’ he said.
Bowen went on to say:
Yes, you can say the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. The rain doesn’t always fall either but we can store the water and we can store renewable energy if we have the investment.
To which Folly might well reply
Folly: So we can store renewable energy just like we store rain water? Fantastic!
Bowen: That investment has been lacking for the last decade. That is the problem.
Folly: Minister, I just love it when people throw good money after bad. Incurring further losses in a hopeless attempt to recoup a previous loss is a great strategy, especially when it’s not your money. They call it Gambler’s Ruin. Go for it!
My guru on the energy crisis is blogger TonyfromOz. On June 18, 2022 he made the following observation at JoNova: “A perfectly good civilisation is going to waste”, going on to add a comment that is well worth reproducing in its entirety:
You can vilify coal fired power till the cows come home, but until you can replace what it provides, you have (well, less than really) nothing.
Take a look at Joanne’s graph for 17 June, 2022 [reproduced atop this page]. It says so much on one simple graph.
Look at that evening Peak of maximum power consumption. Last night it was at 6.05PM. Incidentally, it’s at that same time year round day in day out, 365 days a year, and has been at that time forever. In Summer it might be somewhat hidden by HVAC power consumption, which is so much higher, but the evening Peak has always been at that time, the time when the power retailers charge the most, telling consumers they can avoid the peak cost by moving their power consumption to cheaper times. You know, come home from school and work some other time. Have your main evening family meal at some other time, watch TV etc. at some other time. Live without lighting till some other time. Tell you children to do their homework some other time. Charge your phones at some other time. Move the habits of everyone to some other time.
So let’s utilise that known-for-centuries time of day and change the cost to a higher rate, eh!
Look again at that graph. At the Peak power time at 6.05PM the AEMO coverage area was consuming 29,035MW. The three renewables of choice, wind, solar plants and rooftop solar power were delivering IN TOTAL ….. 489MW, a grand total of 1.68%. That’s just so incredibly amazing eh! So:
The Nameplate for wind is 9,854MW.
The Nameplate for Solar Plants is 8,506MW
The Nameplate for Rooftop Solar is (around) 17,000MW.
So here we have a total Nameplate from those three renewables of 35,360MW…. a truly HUMUNGOUS total, and delivering 489MW no less, at a Capacity Factor of ….. well, who really cares.
We have 47 coal fired Units in total, with a Nameplate of 22,500MW. Ten of those Units are offline. (two in Victoria, three in NSW and five in Queensland) That takes out a tick over 4000MW. So, 37 coal fired Units with a remaining Nameplate of 18,500MW.
At that same time of the usual evening Peak, same time every night forever, those 37 Units supplied 16,780MW of power. That’s at an online Capacity Factor of 90.7%, from Units in the main, all of them older than 35 years. So:
35,360MW Nameplate RE – Power delivery 489MW
18,5500MW (online) – Power delivery 16,780MW
UNTIL (and let me repeat that ….. UNTIL) those three renewables of choice ….. CAN deliver that gap up to the total of 29,035MW, not just one night a year, but EVERY night of the year, not just at some ephemeral point in the day, but REGULARLY at 6PM day in, day out, forever ….. ONLY THEN can it be said that renewables can REPLACE coal fired power. Trust me that scenario will NEVER happen.
Oh, you say there’s that big BATTERY to fill that gap. Oh, and if there is a battery, then you’ll need an equivalent amount of renewable power to charge that battery. Oh, and if that is to be from renewables, then that’s extra renewables on top of what will be needed, because you CANNOT charge the battery and consume the power from the same source at the same time.
Vilify coal fired power all you like ….. Tell us that coal fired power is dying ….. Tell us that it is unreliable ….. Tell us it’s a stranded asset ….. Tell us they are closing down soon ….. Tell us coal fired power is not needed anymore.
NOW, tell us where 29,000MW of regular and reliable, present ALL the time is coming from.
Meanwhile, as Folly might note, in the middle of this energy crisis Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has written to the United Nations to increase Australia’s emissions reduction targets. He signed the letter to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa as millions of Australians were being urged to conserve power to avoid blackouts. Good timing, PM!
PM: ‘Our changed position of 43 per cent, up by 17 to 15 per cent, from the 26 to 28 per cent target that had remained there since Tony Abbott determined it in 2015.’
Folly: Mr Albanese said world leaders had welcomed Australia’s more ambitious targets. Hurrah!
WHERE is our Erasmus to expose the rot and corruption in the UN Church of Climate Control? Too many have given up or want to avoid being persecuted for heresy. Too few are prepared to question climate-change dogma, pseudoscience and the UN’s “loss and damages” agenda.
Sir Thomas More’s defence relied on the maxim qui tacet consentire videtur, “one who keeps silent seems to consent”. He refused to answer questions on whether Henry VIII was head of the Church. More lost his head on July 6, 1535, at Tower Hill.
Australia lost its head over “climate change” a decade ago. The national RE obsession will inflict far more damage than this alleged bogeyman. Our future is now determined by anarchists, activists, “carbon capitalists” and a ruthless political class happy to equate “carbon” with carbon dioxide. They won’t rest until they destroy the economic foundation of our way of life.
Has Folly ever witnessed a more bizarre and self-destructive policy, one based on the belief the climate can be manipulated to create an atmospheric utopia for everyone, everywhere and forever?
Live long, drink deep, be jolly,
Ye most illustrious votaries of Folly!
— Desiderius Erasmus