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Transition start-up problem or permanent disaster?

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Politicians, regulators and grant seekers describe the current difficulties in the energy market as part of the transition from fossil fuels to renewables – and perhaps to more exotic forms of energy derived from fossil fuels. extraction of hydrogen from water.

They go on to say that transitions always involve start-up difficulties.

It’s wrong.

In the past, transitions from horse-drawn transport to trains, motor vehicles and airplanes only meant benefits for consumers. Indeed, producers have easily adapted to the evolution of technology. This was also seen in the progression from sailing ships to steamships and from the abacus to the mechanical calculator to the computer. The transition from obtaining energy, heat and light from wood and water mills to coal, oil and gas was equally painless and was essential to establishing a standard of living modern.

Today’s “energy transition” is driven by governments – there is probably not a single megawatt of wind/solar power in the world that has been built without subsidy. The flippant statements about cheap renewables are based on estimates of their costs without including the vastly increased transmission expense they entail (according to the Australian government this would represent a fourfold increase in the cost of the current grid) and the costs filling the inevitable supply gaps with intermittent wind and solar inputs.

Unlike an “energy transition” force-fed by heavily subsidized wind and solar generation, governments have played a passive role in previous transitions. These transitions were driven by entrepreneurial innovations adopted by customers because they were cheaper or had other superior characteristics. Among the latter was greater reliability – a serious shortcoming of an energy system converted from fossil fuels to wind/solar.

The latest wasteful spending program pursuing ‘energy transition’ goals bears the oxymoronic name of America Inflation Reduction Act. This will increase spending by $369 billion for “investments in energy security and climate change.” US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm hailed the law’s support for Battery. Banely, she said that batteries complement wind and solar by storing their energy when there is insufficient wind or sunlight, adding, “When you combine wind or solar with battery technology, it becomes as a reliable staple food, which is very exciting.

There is very little analysis of what the US measures actually entail in terms of associated costs. In global terms, thunder said energy estimates that the electricity grid would cost four times its current costs, even to accommodate a 25% share of renewables. This is because the power is less concentrated, irregular, and must come from more dispersed locations than is the case with large coal, nuclear, or gas-fired generators.

For Australia, Global-Roam (forty minutes) estimates that even with a perfect system, the equivalent of 25 Snowy 2s or 70,000 Hornsdale-type batteries would be needed to firm up an exclusively wind-powered production system. Even so, the result would still mean less reliability than it does today. Based on Global-Roam’s analysis, the total cost (and therefore prices) would be approximately 4-5 times that of the system we are transitioning from.

According to Global Roam estimates, James Taylor, criticizing the Australian power market operator’s recently published Integrated System Plan (ISP), concludes that at least 7980 GWh would be needed instead of the ISP’s 319 GWh. Cost estimates for this battery backup scale would be in the range of $5-7 trillion. As the batteries would be on a 10-year replacement cycle, the cost would be $500-700 billion per year, or more than a quarter of GDP each year. Then there is the cost of the additional transmission and the wind/solar units themselves!

The modern standard of living depends on a cheap and reliable energy supply. But the ill-informed biases of electorates and pressures from the vested interests of the wind/solar industries have caused politicians in Western democracies to aphasia towards the energy industry.

Accustomed to market forces mitigating the adverse effects of policy interventions and appeased by unrealistic cost estimates of wind/solar supply, governments have embarked on a radical transformation of their energy supply industry. This has involved renewable energy subsidies and regulatory impositions or outright bans on the use of coal, gas and uranium. These measures force the closure of coal and nuclear power plants. The resulting increase in generation costs is compounded by increased network costs.

The results are now visible in soaring electricity (and gas) prices that are undermining living standards both through its direct effect on household energy bills and through increased input costs for all goods. The reduction in gas supplies to Russia is only one catalyst for this development.

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