Contradictory or Just Plain Oxymoronic?

Peter Smith05 Jun, 2024 2 Min Read
Bowen: Another nice mess you've gotten us into.

Enervating energy. That’s a nice turn of phrase of mine. Or is it? Who knows, someone might have coined it before me. In any event, it has the éclat of an oxymoron rather than the banality of a contradiction in terms. They are not at all the same. Yet, the inferred trendiness of the word oxymoron means that it is often used when in fact what is being portrayed is a contradiction in terms.

For instance, a sensible socialist is a contradiction in terms. An unsubsidised supplier of renewable-energy, another. Chris Bowen, Australia’s minister for climate change and energy, is a walking talking contradiction in terms. Everything he does as "climate change" minister destroys reliable energy. Seems intrinsically contradictory to me.

However, enervating energy is a genuine oxymoron. It’s pithy and expresses a single coherent idea by conjoining apparently contradictory terms. Perhaps not the equal of Shakespeare’s sweet sorrow, but it will do. And it has particular application to the “nice mess” (to borrow Ollie’s oxymoron) being created by wind, solar and batteries; a mess without geographical boundaries.

Wherever any reliance is placed on renewable energy, enervation is bound to occur. Sure, in places where nuclear, coal, gas, or oil form a major part of power generation it is mitigated. But enervation is there, nonetheless, to one extent or another.

Take a small town in want of a steady diet of 27 megawatts of power. Knocking on the mayor’s door comes a peddler of wind turbines. Each turbine has a plated capacity of three megawatts. Would nine turbines do the job? Hardly. On average turbines deliver only 30 percent of their plated capacity. Okay then, would 30 turbines (9 divided by 0.3) do the job? On average they would. But on average doesn’t keep your lights on, or your machines running. The mayor is unimpressed.

One evening in July last year the contribution of wind across Australia’s national electricity market peaked at about 25 percent. From May 21 to May 28 this year it contributed just 4.9 percent in total. You see the problem. Climate cultists don’t.

And they're ugly, too.

The turbine peddler persists. “Alright, we’ll double the number of turbines to sixty,” he says.”

“Sorry, that would cost us too much and won’t solve the problem anyway,” the mayor replies. “If the wind isn’t blowing we get no power.”

“We can install a big battery,” the peddler prattles. Laughter ensues.

A familiar tale that needs no retelling, you might think. You would be wrong. As we speak, scenic landscapes and farmlands are being overrun with wind and solar eruptions and with thousands of miles of pylons and connecting wires.

Land hungry, ugly, costly and inadequate, renewables must be backed to the hilt by non-weather-dependent systems of power generation. Imagine driving to work in an oversized wired-up contraption accompanied in tandem by a reliable petrol-powered taxicab knowing that you can and will breakdown at any tick of the clock. Honestly, that would enervate me, and my bank balance.

After a career in economics, banking and payment-systems management, Peter Smith now blogs on the topics of the day. He writes for Quadrant, Australia’s leading conservative online site and magazine. He has written Bad Economics, of which, he notes, there is much.


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One comment on “Contradictory or Just Plain Oxymoronic?”

  1. Here in Newfoundland, Canada, there's a proposal afoot for a 164-turbine, onshore wind farm to be built on the island's southwest coast, in the area of the town of Stephenville.
    A perfect horror of an idea, all running on the usual empty promises and predictable platitudes. This addled-headed plan is already requesting 25%, no less, of the power from the province's newest hydro project: Muskrat Falls, and its total output of 824 MW. And the most ludicrous notion here is that this huge wind farm will power the process of turning ammonia into hydrogen for export; it will also completely disfigure an otherwise attractive landscape. This lunacy all but sums up all that is criminal and madcap about wind energy.

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