The other night my wife and I sat down to a candle-lit dinner and a glass of wine, but it wasn’t a special anniversary or any other celebration. We did without the usual diversion of TV news in the background, or any romantic mood music to enhance the flickering naked flames. Just the sounds of silence and each other’s conversation as a result of a sudden power blackout.
There was no violent storm, only a late afternoon rain squall and a brisk south-easter blowing in from the sea, but the blackout lasted for about an hour. Fortunately our chicken dinner was prepared in our gas stove, so no problem. Others relying on electricity would have had to wait — a reminder of where Australia is heading with its mad rush to renewables and the demonisation of coal and gas.
We are constantly assured renewables are the cheapest form of energy, but that flies in the face of ever-increasing power bills as the federal and state governments push their agendas on a gullible public. Energy Minister Chris Bowen regularly gets all fired up as he waves his arms about like one of his pet wind turbines while quoting a CSIRO report claiming that solar and wind really are the cheapest option. But that report has been widely criticised for omitting a huge black hole – the cost of providing up to 28,000km of new transmission lines, battery and pumped hydro storage, land acquisitions and other necessary infrastructure. Before the last election, federal Labor estimated the cost of its 2030 renewable electricity target of 82 percent at $78 billion. However, a report by Professor Robin Batterham and expert group Net Zero Australia this year estimated it at a whopping $1.5 trillion!
Meanwhile, in its latest report the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) warns of the likelihood of rolling blackouts with the return of an El Niño weather pattern bringing a hot, dry summer with a greater than normal number of windless days.
Minister Bowen also insists nuclear energy will remain a too-expensive no-no, but anyone with an internet connection can see that many overseas countries are embracing nuclear as a more reliable and cheaper way of achieving net zero emissions. Even globe-trotting greenie Greta Thunberg has recently claimed Germany “made a mistake” in shutting down its nuclear power plants in favour of renewables. Germans and residents of other struggling EU nations now rely on France, Europe’s largest electricity exporter, to make up for what would otherwise be power shortages.
Sacre bleu, Mr. Bowen! Nuclear plants provide about 70 percent of France’s energy mix. With its vineyards, wineries and cheese works, it’s far from being a dystopian radio-active wasteland. But don’t take my word for it. Opposition energy spokesman Ted O”Brien recently raised some valid points in making the case for emerging nuclear technology, including small modular reactors (SMRs) and microreactors (nuclear batteries). O’Brien proceeded to argue against Bowen’s claim that any nuclear technology …Bowen proceeded to argue that any nuclear technology Australia could adopt isn’t commercialised and, anyway, would take far too long to build and bring online (emphasis added):
A number of Generation III+ reactors are already fully commercialised and in operation today, including at least one SMR, and up to 50 more are coming to market …
“Bowen claims nuclear is slow to build and disputes whether a plant could be operating in Australia by the mid-2030s. The latest adopter of nuclear energy, the United Arab Emirates, progressed from idea to commercialisation within the same timeframe that Bowen argues is impossible for Australia…
An equivalent renewables-only ‘solution’ would need a solar farm of 35,000 hectares or a wind farm of 200,000 hectares, with a huge impact on the natural environment, productive farmland and ruined vistas.
This explains growing opposition from odd allies, farmers and environmentalists, to the resumptions and land clearing for huge solar farms, massive wind turbines and transmission lines through native forests and productive farmland. Proposals for offshore wind farms in the path of migratory whales off the East Coast have also faced strong resistance.
The ABC recently reported that renewable energy advisory body, Nexa, and global analyst Rystad Energy, had found Australia’s green energy share was likely to be barely 60 per cent by 2030. Former Snowy Hydro boss Paul Broad put it bluntly: “The notion that you’re going to have 80 per cent renewables in our system by 2030 is, to use the vernacular, bullshit. You can’t. This transition, if it ever occurs, will take 80 years, not eight.”
According to the Australian Financial Review, Snowy Hydro 2 will need an injection of an additional $3 billion as its latest cost blows out to $12 billion. When it was announced by former Liberal PM Malcolm Turnbull, it was estimated to cost just $2 billion. The concept of using power to pump water uphill to generate power when it runs back down hill seems a very expensive dog chasing its very expensive tail. Now, with one of the monster tunelling machines trapped underground for months, it seems that dog hasn’t even left its over-priced kennel.
The science, we are told, is beyond settled. That much-vaunted “consensus” simply doesn’t exist — except in green newsrooms and rent-seeking outfits’ boardrooms, where the Chicken Little mantras of climate doom are holy writ. Some 1600 scientists’ signatures on a declaration stating “there is no climate emergency” say otherwise, as does US Nobel Prize Laureate John Clauser, who has said IPCC climate models ignore one key variable factor – clouds. “Clouds play a paramount role in regulating the Earth’s temperature, serving as a ‘cloud-sunlight-reflectivity thermostat that controls the climate, controls the temperature of the earth, and stabilizes it very powerfully and very dramatically,” he explained.
Mr. Clauser pointed out that satellite images consistently show wide variances in cloud cover, which can span anywhere from five to 95 percent of the Earth’s surface. This “thermostat” mechanism, he insists, has a vastly greater influence on global temperature than CO2 or methane. His preliminary calculations suggest the impact of this cloud-reflectivity mechanism might overshadow CO2’s influence by as much as to 200 times.
Professor Ian Plimer has also highlighted the effect of volcanoes on climate and weather in a Spectator Flat White article, including this:
The underwater eruption from the Pacific Ocean volcano in…. Tonga occurred on 15 January 2022. NASA published satellite time-lapse footage showing a column of water rising 50 km to the stratosphere. The volume of water… was 10 per cent of all the water in the stratosphere. As a result, Eastern Australia had numerous rain bombs in 2022 and 2023. Elsewhere in the world, there were rain bombs and large snowfalls…
Obviously there are other natural factors affecting climate and weather, including ocean currents, variation in solar orbits, gradual movement of the magnetic poles,, and measured against these, carbon dioxide emissions are a minor player. Former chief scientist Alan Finkel told a Senate hearing several years ago that if Australia immediately cut all its CO2 emissions the effect on world climate would be negligible.
But the climate-scare juggernaut will continue rolling right along, of that we can be sure. So my advice would be to stock up on candles. At least in the blacked-out gloom darkness you’ll be able to enjoy a romantic dinner (at least until they ban gas stoves).
John Mikkelsen is the former editor of three Queensland regional newspapers, columnist, freelance writer and author of the Amazon Books Memoir, Don’t Call Me Nev