Albo’s Airy-Fairy Electricity Fables

Recall the original message? Green energy is more costly than conventional energy. But, they said, much less costly than the climate catastrophe awaiting if nothing were done. A problem arose. Surveys showed that while people naively went along with the prospect of using green energy, they were unwilling to pay for it. I know what to do, some bright spark probably exclaimed, deep in the bowels of Renewable Energy Inc, we’ll tell them it’s cheaper.

Thus, in a far-off land called Oz, opposition leader Anthony Albanese (Albo) promised voters, no fewer than ninety-seven times, that his green plan would reduce electricity prices for families by an annual $275 by the year 2025. And so it came to pass that Albo and his Labor Party mates were elected to power in May this year.

It’s hard to get a representative national reading on electricity bills, which vary markedly between states. However, a Sydney family (Ma, Pa and two kids) would pay something like $1,800 a year. During the time Albo was campaigning, bills were already rising, putting his fanciful promise in peril. Still, he was resolute; confident in the modelling behind his plan. After all, as he kept on saying, and keeps on saying, renewables are the cheapest form of energy. Ergo, as a matter of unassailable logic, more wind and solar equals cheaper power. And don’t believe your lying eyes, whatever your bills might say.

Albanese and Dishy Rishi yukking it up at the G20 in Bali.

It's not propaganda on Albo’s part. Might have started that way. Now he undoubtedly believes it. I suppose if you tell others a demonstrable lie enough times it becomes your truth. Haven’t tried it personally. Never been a politician or used-car salesman.

But the jig is up. Federal budgets in Australia are usually brought down in early May. The new Labor government couldn’t wait until next year, bringing down an interim October budget. That was probably a mistake. In the budget papers, Treasury projected that electricity prices would rise 20 percent over the balance of 2022-23 and another 30 percent in 2023-24. Yikes, that doesn’t sound like a reduction of $275.

Clever people in the media (the majority caught on eventually) realized that 20 and 30 percent compounded to 56 percent. At that rate an $1,800 bill rises by over $1000; instead of falls by $275. Not an easy discrepancy to explain away, even for practiced snake-oil salesmen. What to do? What would Biden do? Blame Trump and Putin of course. Albo and his mates didn’t disappoint. Years of mismanagement by the previous government is behind this they said, and also that slubberdegullion Putin. They didn’t actually say slubberdegullion; but they might well have, if they’d found the word as I did.

What would they do without Putin? These days, he’s behind the undoing of all the best-laid green schemes. Think aptly of Snowball, George Orwell’s porcine character. Orwell is perhaps too often brought into the frame. Yet his work is so unmissably prescient. The interchangeability of truth and lies in 1984 thrives in real life among those pimping climate-change catastrophe. And then there’s the fall guy Snowball playing Trotsky (yesteryear’s Putin) in Animal Farm, blamed for all ills.

Befitting a leftist government, the new Australian Labor government foresees budget deficits without end; with gross public debt exceeding $1 trillion by the end of June 2024 and progressively rising from there on. That might seem small compared with America’s $31 trillion debt, but you have to multiply it by 13 to get a per-capita comparison and, of course, the USD is the world’s reserve currency – quite an advantage when you owe money. It is glaringly discernible, not disputable; leftist governments incorrigibly spend money they don’t have to buy votes. Democracy would fall without right-of-centre governments periodically repairing the fiscal ship of state. In fact, that now seems to be their only function, having largely ceded away civil society to Marxist mobs.

Spendthrift governments often spend money outside of the budget to disguise their profligacy. In Australia’s budget, $20 billion (more than half the size of the projected deficit for 2022-23) is designated as low-cost finance, and therefore off-budget, to fund 13,200 kms of new transmission lines and pylons. Connecting far-flung wind and solar farms to grids is an expensive exercise. And, in this case, a forlorn one.

Everybody hates Vlad.

First, it can’t be done. There is nowhere near the skilled manpower to the job. To boot, objections are already being made by landowners to having large pylons and wires strewn across their land. Lawfare awaits. And then there’s the little matter of building the many and massive wind and solar farms from which the transmission lines sprout. It’s make-believe.

Second, whatever part is built is bound to be well behind schedule and way above cost. It’s a government project. Take the white elephant, Snowy 2.0-pumped hydro. When will it be built? They said by 2021. Assume 2028 at the earliest; that’s if it’s ever finished at all. And the cost? They said $2 billion. Assume something northwards of $10 billion or, more probably, $15 billion.

There is much else about “cheaper, cleaner energy” in the budget. For example, $157.9 million is provided for a “National Energy Transformation Partnership.” All hat and no cattle, sums it up.

…the Government will work together with state and territory governments on priority actions to support the transformation of Australia’s energy sector. Initial priorities include delivering Australia’s first fully integrated energy and emissions reduction agreement, introducing an emissions reduction objective into the National Energy Objectives, accelerating mechanisms for the uptake of flexible energy supply and progressing a co-designed First Nations Clean Energy Strategy with First Nations communities.

Blah-blah-blah. Lots of taxpayer loot to produce yet more grandiose bumf. Not one kilowatt of power. And, by the way, Australian Aboriginals never constituted Nations. Hundreds of stone-age, hunter-gatherer, thinly populated itinerant tribes were not remotely nations. Part of the lies that now inform Australia’s national life. Fitting in this era of climate hysteria and green-energy boondoggles.

'We Stand by the Modeling'

The Australian Labor Government, in office since May 23, is pinning its hopes and our very future on its plan: “Powering Australia.” Worried? Don’t be. It’s backed by modelling:

A Labor Government will close the yawning gap between our current Federal Government and our business community, agricultural sector and state governments when it comes to investing in the renewables that will power our future. Our plan will create 604,000 jobs, with 5 out of 6 new jobs to be created in the regions. It will spur $76 billion of investment. It will cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year for homes by 2025, compared to today.

Read all about it:

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Recently, Chris Bowen, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy; or, as I like to put it, the minister for a contradiction in terms, was asked about the predicted $275 reduction in power bills for families. What did “today” mean he was asked. Is it literally today, which successive tomorrows will soon enough become, or is it when the plan was published before the election. A good question. Since the election power bills have risen by about 15 to 20 percent; by, roughly speaking, $275.

Eventually, after much pressing, Bowen and the government stuck to the prediction. Apparently, the prediction fell out of modelling and there is no gainsaying modelling. Here’s Anthony Albanese (Albo), the Prime Minister, in Parliament on 6 September. Overlook the tortured syntax.

I've said absolutely consistently from this dispatch box… that we stand by the modelling that we did… And what the modelling showed was that with our plan, which includes Rewiring the Nation, making sure that you make the grid 21st-century ready, if you actually enable renewables to fit into the energy grid through the integrated systems plan that's been developed by the Australian Energy Market Operator then what you will do is promote investment in renewables, which are the cheapest form of energy.

Ah, “we stand by the modelling.” Statistical modelling of the future. Something for which failure is endemic. Psychics do better. Thus, no economics model predicted the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. Hysterical morbidity modelling of the virus armed authoritarians. Kept people locked away, masked, forcibly injected with experimental substances. And, as everyone should know but doesn’t, climate models have performed abjectly; e.g., in falsely predicting increases in extreme weather events. (See, for confirmation, this recent study in The European Physical Journal Plus.)

Some Australians prefer other models.

Models and complex reality occupy different universes. So why Albo’s touching faith in modelling renewables? To be clear. It’s not informed faith. It’s blind faith.

Once you set out your stall to achieve net-zero and announce the steps along the way, including an untenable promise to deliver 82 percent of electricity by renewables by 2030, realism is defenestrated. The imperative becomes how to make the infeasible feasible. Saviour required. Namely, modelling which says it can be done. Better still modelling which says it can be done more cheaply. What a turnup! Show me the wanted outcome (cheap and abundant green energy) and I’ll show you the model.

Mind you, the modelling itself might be logically sound. Assume nine times the current number of wind and solar farms are built on time. Assume rooftop solar grows by five times. Assume 10,000 kilometres of new transmission lines are built. Assume, sufficient recharging points are installed and that electric vehicles wholly replace gasoline-powered vehicles. Assume adequate ‘firming’ can be achieved via batteries, pumped hydro and green hydrogen. Assume a specific growth in energy efficiency. Assume carbon dioxide abatement makes up for greenhouse gas emissions which can’t be eliminated.

Basically, you have the integrated systems plan issued in June by the Australian Energy Market Operator. I reckon if these assumptions were plugged into any purpose-built model, the right answer, net-zero by 2050, would pop out. Any problem; fiddle with the assumptions. Plug in more wind farms for example. Assume greater energy efficiency. Pump up the average wind speed a little. Reduce future demand for power. Remember, in the end result, unless net zero pops out, you ain’t got nothing politically sellable.

Okay, but how do you make power cheaper? I admit, that part has me completely flummoxed; though not the prime minister, as I note below. Battery costs are rising. Materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel are getting progressively more expensive to extract. The costs of building Snowy 2, the only major pumped hydro project afoot in Australia, have sky rocketed by five times and counting. The costs of building transmission lines, still at a preliminary stage, have soared. To boot, no one wants wind and solar farms and transmission lines in their backyards. Maybe they can be paid off? Then there’s the dream of green hydrogen. Desalination plants to produce sufficient pure water; multiple electrolysis plants driven by huge wind and solar farms; plants to convert volatile hydrogen into ammonia for safe transport, and to change it back. At a guess, might cost a dollar or two.

Just pump up the average windspeed a little.

However, Australia’s prime minister occupies an uncomplicated world. As he says: “if you have a shift in the energy mix towards cheaper energy [renewables], as opposed to more expensive energy, then you lower energy prices.” Compelling modelling logic. To reiterate, cheaper energy is cheaper than more expensive energy. No wonder he became PM.

Alas, Australia’s make-believe modelling world is not reflective of real life elsewhere. In Germany, for example, electricity prices trended upwards during the 2010s, notwithstanding Energiewende. A study out of the University of Chicago shows that U.S. states which adopted “renewable portfolio standards” had higher electricity prices than those states which did not. As the authors point out, the higher prices likely reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system due to their “intermittency” and “higher transmission costs.” Quite so. But this is mere prelude to the brave much greener world ahead.

According to EIA figures, wind and solar accounted for just 12 percent of electricity generation in the U.S. in 2021. Australia is higher at 22 percent. But, vitally, in both countries fossil fuel power is strongly in the mix—61 percent in the U.S. (plus 19 percent nuclear) and 72 percent in Australia. It can still backup intermittent sources of power. Watch out when the balance tips a little further. Coming to your neighbourhood fairly soon: unaffordable electricity, blackouts and, inevitably, authoritarian diktats. Verboten, home heating above 61°F. VIPs excepted of course. To everyone according to their needs.

Trouble in Oz for Albo and the Ghastly-Green Fourteen

The left-wing Labor Party narrowly won a majority in the May Australian federal election. It holds 77 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives. It faces Liberal and National Parties, together holding 58 seats, and 16 assorted cross benchers. Of the cross benchers, an assorted ghastly-green fourteen will form, without much doubt, a cacophonous green choir. Nothing that Labor does on climate will be enough. And if that weren’t nearly enough, the Greens (party) will hold the balance of power in the Senate. Interesting times for the new government.

The Labor Party is not the natural party of national government in Australia. In the seventy-seven years since the end of WWII it has formed government only one-third of the time. The (now notionally) centre-right Coalition of the Liberal Party, largely representing urban areas, and the National Party, representing regional and rural areas, has formed government for the balance of the time.

Labor last formed government from 2007 to 2013. It was ugly. Prime minister Kevin Rudd was sacked in mid-first term and replaced with Julia Gillard. The 2010 election was all but lost. Gillard was subsequently sacked and Rudd resuscitated to try to save some seats at the 2013 election. To not much avail. Tony Abbott took the Coalition to a resounding win. Abbot used two principal slogans: “stop the boats” (carrying so-called asylum seekers) and, most notably, “axe the tax” (namely, the proposed carbon tax). Voters want climate-change action. Don't want to pay for it.

And your little dog Toto, too.

New Labor prime minster Anthony Albanese is quite evidently apprehensive. He doesn’t fancy traversing the same rocky road as Rudd or Gillard. Yet, only weeks into office, gas and coal shortages appear, energy prices soar.

What to do in these circumstances; when the election’s been won on climate action, reducing electricity prices and creating lots of green jobs? When, moreover, the cross-bench members of parliament have become greater in number and even more pathologically fixated on combatting climate-change? When they all, without the pesky burden of governing, want emission-reduction targets to go well beyond, and much more speedily beyond, the 43 percent (on 2005 levels) promised by Labor by 2030 and the net-zero promised by 2050?

It’s a rock and hard place. Which way will Labor go? For now, it’s Realpolitik. How could it not be? At the end of May, the wholesale price of natural gas in the states of New South Wales and Victoria spiked 50 and 80 times higher. That’s not a misprint. The Australian Energy Market Operator, responsible for keeping the lights on, responded by putting in place a temporary price cap of $40 per gigajoule. Still four times its not-so-long-ago average price of around $10.

Of course, the Ukrainian conflict, now an excuse for almost any government failure, took part of the blame. The rest was put down to the weather and to a fall in the generation of coal power. Herein hangs a disconcerting tale of inexplicably inclement weather in the era of global warming and, would you believe it, demands by the new fossil-fuel-averse government for more coal and gas power.

Currently it’s 6pm in Sydney and cold. My gas heater is on. It’s that or hypothermia. Is an exorbitant bill on the way? It's an uncommonly cold beginning to winter; lots of snow in the high country for skiers. And weren’t we told that it wasn’t going to snow again? The weather is paying no heed at all to global-warming soothsayers. You can say that again, and I will.

Ho ho ho: winter's on its way.

Inopportunely, as gas prices spiked, Australia’s largest coal power station, Eraring, some 90 miles north of Sydney, reported that it was running out of coal. As an aside, so what? Australia can do without Eraring. That must be so. Climate-change heads wiser than ours have determined that it will close in 2025, seven years earlier than its previously planned premature closing. Never mind, nothing to see there. Move on. But why was Eraring running out of coal?

Flooded coal mines is the answer. Back to that inclement weather. Climate "expert" Tim Flannery assured us in 2007, when made Australian of the year for his environmental credentials, that drought was here to stay. “Even the rain that falls isn't actually going to fill our dams,” he sermonised. And since? Rain aplenty and massive flooding. Don’t think for a moment that this has dented Tim’s chutzpah. Year in and out, decade in and out, dud prediction after dud prediction. The hallmark of the climate cult.

Chris Bowen, the new minister for contradiction in terms—sorry, officially, for climate change and energy—blamed the rise in gas prices on the previous government for not building more renewable energy and transmission infrastructure. Exactly how that would have helped in the circumstances is anybody’s guess. But, in the world of lies in which we live these days, baseless claims are commonplace. However, Madeleine King, the new minister for resources, swallowed her pride and introduced a note of realism. We need more coal and gas power to fill the breach, she said, “climate change be damned.” Well, no, she didn’t exactly say that last bit.

Calls for more coal power? What an irony. Numbers of aging coal power generators suddenly fell out of action. That’s not surprising for an industry destined for complete abolishment, stressed by having to compete with renewables when the wind blows, and to which banks won’t lend.

Hey, big Spender.

Ms Allegra Spender, a member the aforementioned green choir, and in sore need of relevance, blamed reliance on fossil fuels for the situation and called on gas companies to do the right thing, “to come to the party and make sure that Australian consumers and businesses are protected." From pointless to purposeful. Cut to Kevin Gallagher, the CEO of Santos, Australia’s largest gas production company, speaking at a Sky News conference in Sydney in early June.

What’s effectively happened over the last decade as gas resources have been used up and new projects have not been able to come forward and be developed and bring new supply into the market; all the buffer and all the slack in the system has been used up… Successive state and federal governments have put red and green tape in place which has made these projects…impossible to get up.

To wit, a major coal-seam project at Narrabri in northern NSW has been held up for years. All of the gas is destined for domestic consumption. “We thought that would inspire people to help get the project approved,” Gallagher said. Not in today’s world. A cognitively dissonant world; desperately in need of more fossil fuels, while bloody-mindedly preventing their extraction. Albanese’s government is already wrestling with the bitter fruits.

Australians Go Walkabout on 'Climate Change'

Australia’s election is full of oddities and yet it has delivered a clear governing result. Labour will be the next Australian government either with a narrow overall majority or dependent on the parliamentary support of the Greens. Furthermore, it’s been carried into power largely on the back of green votes cast for several parties. And the pledge of the new prime minister, Anthony “Albo” Albanese, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent in 2030 and by the full net- zero in 2050—will be a politically unbreakable one, at least for a year or two. Indeed, though there are still some 14 seats where the winner is still to be decided, none of these governing certainties will change.

What, then, are the oddities? The main one is that Labour won despite both having its worst electoral performance since 1934 and getting the lowest vote for a government in Australian history. That paradox is explained mainly by the fact that the center-right Coalition of Liberal and National parties lost even more support, getting its worst result since Australia’s federation was formed in 1901.

Votes lost by the two main parties went to independents and smaller parties in large numbers. Three groups in particular did well: the Greens who currently look like rising from one to four parliamentary seats; two populist conservative parties that between them scored about 10 percent of the national vote but have so far won no seats; and as my colleague Peter Smith pointed out in an earlier election report,  some former Liberal votes in urban areas went to “so-called Teal candidates”—i.e., independents allegedly blending Liberal blue and Green in their party colors—who are in reality left-progressives on every issue but oh, so, Socially correct too.

At the latest count, an Australian friend tells me, the Liberals lost six upper-middle class traditionally safe seats to these candidates. They were exceptionally well-organized and well-financed by a sympathetic green billionaire, climate activist NGOs, and investors hoping for greater public funding for renewables. They drew support from upper-middle class women voters in particular. And they helped to unseat Liberals by picking up the despairing second preference votes of Labour voters in upper-middle-class urban areas.

There are similarities between this successful insurgent campaign and recent election results in the U.S. and Europe. Left progressives have become adept at exploiting technical opportunities in election law and organization to favor their own voting constituencies, to create new electoral coalitions on key issues such as climate change, and even to conjure up last-minute new political parties when existing Left parties have discredited themselves, as in some recent European elections. They can call on the deep pockets of high-tech billionaires with progressive views. And their conservative opponents—notably the GOP in 2020—have been left behind, sticking with traditional fund-raising and campaigning directed solely to the next election when the progressives are investing in NGOs and tax-exempt social organizations that stay around long term and change the political weather in local urban and suburban communities between as well as during election campaigns.

In reality, despite the legitimate headlines about a “Greenslide,” this Labour/Green victory was in large part a technical knock-out rather than a change of national sentiment. It even seems likely that the center-right Coalition will end up with a larger share of the national vote than Labour. Liberal and National parties did well outside the big cities where these new political technologies have not yet really penetrated.

Those rural, small town, and outer suburban votes—together with the working-class constituencies that the Liberals might go after seriously for the first time if they were sensible enough to follow Peter Smith's advice—could be the basis of a Liberal-National recovery on an electoral and social platform from any before. It would be a recovery rooted in a robust defense of free markets and a science-based civilization against the neo-medieval puritanism of the Green revolution.

Such a recovery would not lack issues. Labour will never be able to satisfy the demands of its Green allies for ever-larger cuts in people’s standard of living, let alone their aspirations for a better life for themselves and their children. The “Teals” will soon discover that their own social standing depends on an economy that their quasi-religious attitudes undermine. Labour voters will be surprised to discover that saving the world means making everything poorer, meaner, and hotter too as their air conditioning fails in the Australian climate. Altogether, the Labour/Green coalition will be rent with increasingly rancorous disputes as the result of a remarkably unfortunate historic accident.

Australia’s conversion to hard greenery is arriving at the very moment when responsible people everywhere are realizing that the costs of orthodox Green climate policy are economically destructive and that the Russo-Ukraine war makes them strategically dangerous too. To use language that should be familiar by now: Net-Zero is unsustainable. And they’ve just embraced it.

'Greenslide' in Oz Dumps Scott Morrison.

Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party has won the Australian election as polls said he would. While the convoluted compulsory preferential voting system will keep some results hanging for some days, it’s likely (as I write 24 hours since the polls closed) that Labor will gain 76+ seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives. And, therefore, will be able to govern in his own right, without the help of independents or Greens.

I’m queuing to vote. A middle-aged chap in a Kylea Tink tee-shirt approaches me. Do you know anything about Kylea Tink, he asks? Yes, I do, I say, she has insane climate policies. He reminds me of recent floods and bushfires. You mean like the ones we had in the nineteen thirties; I respond. Resignedly, he beats a retreat and moves on to the young couple standing behind me. More receptive ears. I wonder. How does a man of his age become completely delusional? Young things, OK. They know no better, and have been brainwashed on social media.

On reflection, judging by the overall election result, the weight of the voting population across all age groups has become delusional. A cultural degeneration, perhaps already in waiting, has been given impetus by "climate change" and Covid. Irony. Australia is one of the few countries to meet its Kyoto commitment. It has a covid death-rate one tenth that of the U.S. Unemployment has just fallen to 3.9 percent; its lowest level for fifty years. And yet…

Ms Tink, who won the seat by the way, was one of thirteen so-called “Teal” independents, opposing “moderates” (more correctly, wets), among the governing Liberal (conservative) and National (rural centre-right) parties. All in blue-ribbon inner-city seats. Backed by the son of a billionaire with interests in renewable energy, these well-heeled women, in well-heeled electorates, are climate activists. In each case their Liberal or National opponent scores more votes. But preference sharing among the Greens and Labor gets (as it stands) six of them elected. Oh, for first-past-the-post elections...

Incidentally, they and their supporters deceptively wear teal-coloured tee-shirts as a sign that they are a cross between green and Liberal blue; presumable to appeal to conservative-minded voters. In fact, they’re more aptly “watermelons.” Or a cross between green and red, which make an unattractive brown when mixed and wouldn’t do on shirts.

Unfortunately, we now have a Labor government committed to a 43 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, with up to twelve Greens and green-minded independents in the parliament who think much more ambitiously. They variously want something between sixty and seventy-five percent. Meanwhile the Liberals are tortured. Should they try to outbid the Teals next time to get those blue-ribbon seats back?

Hold on, there’s no outbidding the Teals. Should they then try for those working-class outer-suburban seats, which they’ve never won, by going back to traditional conservative values and common sense? A Trumpian strategy. Seems farfetched. There will be no path back for the Liberals, while "climate change" is the cause du jour.