A line of turbines on metal lattice legs catch the breeze at the Cowley Ridge wind farm in southern Alberta. The 23-year-old facility, Canada’s first commercial wind project, is being decommissioned. TED RHODES / CALGARY HERALD
From the Calgary Herald and the “waiting of the government cash cow” department:
Oldest commercial wind farm in Canada headed for scrapyard after 23 years
The oldest commercial wind power facility in Canada has been shut down and faces demolition after 23 years of transforming brisk southern Alberta breezes into electricity — and its owner says building a replacement depends on the next moves of the provincial NDP government.
TransAlta Corp. said Tuesday the blades on 57 turbines at its Cowley Ridge facility near Pincher Creek have already been halted and the towers are to be toppled and recycled for scrap metal this spring. The company inherited the now-obsolete facility, built between 1993 and 1994, as part of its $1.6-billion hostile takeover of Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. in 2009.
“TransAlta is very interested in repowering this site. Unfortunately, right now, it’s not economically feasible,” Wayne Oliver, operations supervisor for TransAlta’s wind operations in Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod, said in an interview.
“We’re anxiously waiting to see what incentives might come from our new government. . . . Alberta is an open market and the wholesale price when it’s windy is quite low, so there’s just not the return on investment in today’s situation. So, if there is an incentive, we’d jump all over that.”
I’ll bet they would. Does anyone need any more proof that wind power just isn’t economically feasible on large scales without subsidies?
Coal and nuclear plants last longer and provide far more power…and production isn’t tied to the vagaries of wind and weather.
From “green” madness in the north to “green” madness in the south
Renewables Disaster Sees Australian Power Prices Jump Another 20% – With Worse to Come
Life coaches and self-help manuals talk about dreaming the life and living the dream.
In Australia, as elsewhere, wind and solar power were touted as promising not only an end to the pesky habit of the Earth’s climate to change (a selfish obsession that our planet has been hard at for 4.5 billion years), but constantly falling power prices, that would become so cheap we would never need to open our wallets again.
However, instead of living that dream, for Australian households and businesses, life has become little short of a nightmare.
The winning combination of skyrocketing prices, load shedding and blackouts is part and parcel of attempting to run modern economies on sunshine and breezes.
One of those responsible for Australia’s power market fiasco is AGL, which built a large chunk of South Australia’s wind farms, starting back in 2009, as well as Australia’s greatest wind power disaster at Macarthur in Victoria.
A few weeks ago, AGL started publicly crowing about their plan to keep the renewables subsidy gravy train rolling, with a run of television and print media advertising, using an obsequious, too-neatly-bearded git, touring a wind farm in his tiny battery powered buzz-box.
One line in the TV ad which smacked of pure marketing ‘genius’, was when the smarmy young hipster – having announced that AGL is “getting out of coal” and is all about delivering “sustainable” wind and solar power to your door – asserts that it all comes “with no compromises to you”.
Perhaps the reference to ‘you’ excluded all Australian power consumers, because the wind and solar power champion has just announced year-on-year retail power price increases of between 16 and 19%.
Electricity customers facing big hikes despite Finkel report
10 June 2017
It will get a lot worse before it gets better for Australia’s electricity consumers, who face another round of sharp price rises in the next financial year despite the Finkel electricity review’s aspiration to ease hip-pocket pressure.
The big energy retailers are expected to show their hands on pricing in the next week, ahead of the new financial year in July, but matters are already looking grim.
AGL this week announced a 16 per cent price increase for residential customers in NSW — about $300 a year on average.
In the ACT, ActewAGL customers face rises of 18.95 per cent, translating to $333 for the “typical household’’.
South Australian customers face rises of 18 per cent, about $350 a year, under new tariffs announced by AGL, which controls about 60 per cent of that market.
“Retail electricity prices have risen because of significant increases in wholesale prices,” AGL said.
“Wholesale prices have increased for a number of reasons, including high gas prices and limited gas availability on the east coast, the closure of ageing coal-fired generators, and an uncertain policy environment.”
Queensland power prices are expected to rise only about 3.5 per cent after state-owned power companies were ordered by the Palaszczuk government to cut network costs.
Origin Energy and Energy Australia are yet to announce prices for NSW but are likely to keep prices steady in Victoria, where second-tier retailers such as Click Energy, Dodo and Q Energy are to announce rises.
The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission said the single biggest driver of the ACT’s tariff increase had been the substantial jump in the forward prices of electricity.
Wholesale electricity prices rose by 112 per cent from $49.77 per megawatt hour to $105.69MWh in the May 31 year.
A big contributor to this jump was the closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood power station in Victoria, which affected the east coast and SA markets.
With prices expected to rise further, Energy Australia announced it would commit an additional $10m to financial and other support for vulnerable customers unable to pay electricity bills in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.
The AGL price hikes of 16% (NSW), 18% (SA) and 19% (ACT) represent annual price increases of between 10 and 12 times the 2016/17 annual rate of inflation of 1.5%. That punishment follows 12% increases in retail power prices in SA last year: South Australians Locked in Wind Power Price Disaster: Retail Prices Jump Another 12% – and a 90% increase in power costs for businesses: Wind Power Costs Crushing South Australian Businesses: Firms Hit with 90% Price Hike
As the Federal government’s Large-Scale RET increases from its annual target this year of 26,000 GWh to its ultimate target of 33,000 GWh in 2020, the cost of the subsidies directed to wind and large-scale solar will reach $3 billion a year, every year until 2031 and, between now and then, add $42 billion to already crippling retail power bills: It’s Time for Frydenberg & Turnbull to Come Clean on the Cost of Subsidised Wind Power
Then there is the small issue of having power available at all.
Finkel sounds alarm on power; states in danger of blackouts
10 June 2017
Victoria and South Australia are at risk of damaging blackouts this summer because of the closure of the Hazelwood brown-coal power station.
The Finkel report warns that if power companies do not respond to high prices by installing fresh capacity, the reliability of the network could be compromised over the longer term.
The Australian Energy Market Operator is taking steps to shore up supplies, banning any scheduled summer maintenance of generators and requiring any “mothballed” plants to be made available from October.
But the Finkel report says the key problem is the lack of any new generating capacity that is capable of being dispatched rapidly, such as gas, hydro or coal.
“The past few years has seen the retirement of significant coal-fired capacity from the National Electricity Market while there has been no corresponding reinvestment in new dispatchable capacity,” it says.
The renewable energy target has provided an incentive for wind power, but it is not available on-call. “If new dispatchable capacity is not brought forward soon, the reliability of the National Electricity Market will be compromised,” it says.
The report rejects the approach taken in Britain and the northeast of the US where the government holds an auction for companies to supply new capacity, saying it is too radical a step and should only be considered if there is an “irresolvable failure” of the existing electricity market to encourage new generating capacity.
However, it recommends the creation of a new energy security board that would have responsibility for ensuring the reliability of the system.
There would be new obligations on transmission companies and electricity generators to operate with spare capacity and the ability to supply rapid increases at times of shortage.
It says a possible strategy would be for the AEMO to retain a strategic reserve of electricity capacity, which would be held outside the market but could be drawn on in times of emergency when reliability standards are breached.
The Finkel review also calls for better planning for the closure of coal-fired generators. It rejected a call for a mandatory 50-year maximum lifespan to be imposed on coal-fired generators, but noted that the existing fleet was getting old. By 2035, 68 per cent of the coal-fired generators now in operation will be older than 50.
The report said the Northern and Playford generators in South Australia were closed with only 11 months’ notice, while Hazelwood in Victoria provided only five months’ notice. The report says all large generators should be required to give a minimum of three years’ notice of closure, to allow for better planning.
Gas is expected to play a greater role in electricity supply.
The Turnbull government is legislating to gain the power to implement export controls on gas when there is a shortfall in the domestic market.
As we suggested in a previous post, Finkel’s suggestion that coal-fired generation plant – rendered unprofitable by heavily subsidised wind and solar power – should keep running for years while bleeding cash is as ridiculous as suggesting that adding more wind and solar power will lead to lower power prices.
But, at least, Finkel has recognised that keeping the lights on is about keeping coal-fired plant in the game. Irrespective of their age, Australia’s coal-fired plant deliver reliable and affordable power, whatever the time of day and whatever the weather. What’s left of Australian business is banking on it – for pretty obvious reasons: