Andy calculates the Greens 100 per cent renewable energy push would cost a staggering $2.3 Trillion by the turn of the century.
Greens deputy leader Christine Milne, a member of the multi-progressive-party committee that designed the unelected Carbon Dioxide tax package, said Australia must now go further.
"We need to get to 100 per cent renewable energy as quickly as possible in this country."
The Greens environment spokeswoman, Larissa Waters, said the Greens had always reserved their support for a prompt switch to 100 per cent reliance on renewables.
"There's been no change in our position," Senator Waters said. "We will continue to push for renewables to power Australia and for us to be exporting that technology to the world. There have been studies done that show Australia could be powered by 100 per cent renewables within a decade using today's technology.”
And how much would this fantasy cost?
The Greens pipe dream would initially cost $255 billion or $11,590 for every man, woman and child in Australia. This insane amount doesn’t include the costs associated with new pylons and the tens of thousands of kilometres of additional transmission wire also required.
What $1 billion US dollars looks like. Each bill is a $100.00 USD. Now visualise what $2.3 trillion dollars would look like. That’s the Greens Renewable Fantasy.
In 2008-09 Australia’s total electricity capacity produced 56 gigawatts (GWe), of which 30.3 GWe (54%) was coal-fired, 14.7 GWe (26%) gas or multi-fuel, 1.35 (2.4%) oil, 7.1 GWe (13%) hydro and 2.5 GWe (4.5%) other renewables.
The Greens believe renewables (Wind Turbines) could replace all this within 10 years.
Now we all know Wind Turbines cannot be 100% efficient and there are several reasons why they can’t be. Back in 1919 a smart German physicist named Albert Betz figured out that the most you can possibly get out of Wind Turbine is around 59% of the power in the wind. This is an unassailable bit of physics. Stop whining about it. I'm not going to prove it here but it is not hard to at least understand why we can never convert 100% of the wind's power. In other words, a perfect best-possible Wind Turbine would be able to convert almost 59% of the power in the wind into mechanical rotating power. But we can't achieve perfection.
A given Wind Turbine has a "design point" that generally defines its peak efficiency at the wind speed for which the system is designed. At wind speeds above and below the design speed the efficiency is the same or less - maybe much less. If a turbine's best efficiency is 40% at a wind velocity of 10 meters per second it will be 40% only at that wind speed. At all other wind speeds it will be something worse. That wind turbine will generally operate at lower than its best efficiency, because wind speeds are never constant or average.
When there is no wind, a turbine’s efficiency is zero.
The electric power actually produced will be still lower because the generator efficiencies are also less than 100% (generally in the mid-or-low-90's at best), and there are further losses in the conversion electronics and lines. But this is true of all power technologies. When all these losses are figured in, you might, if you are lucky, be getting 35% or so of the wind's energy actually delivered as useful electrical energy to the end user in the very best conditions. The average might only be in the twenties.
The average Wind Turbine being installed across the country is rated at 1.5MWe and we know that at best, Wind Turbines are probably 35% efficient (that’s being very generous) at converting the kinetic energy into mechanical energy.
My back of the envelope calculations tell me that if we were to blindly follow the Greens insane 100 per cent renewable demand by 2021 we would need to pay for and install over 102,000 Wind Turbines ((53,500,000 KWe divided by 1,500KWe) divided by efficiency 0.35% rounded to the nearest 1,000).
At an average price of $2.5 million per Wind Turbine (about $1,650 per MWe) the Greens pipe dream would cost approximately $255 billion or $11,590 for every man, woman and child in Australia.
However the $255 billion is just the tip of the iceberg. As each Wind Turbine installed has an average operational life span of 20 years, these Wind Turbines will need to be replaced. So under the Greens 100 per cent renewable dream, we’ll be leaking a further $25 billion each and every year from 2021.
And after all this our Carbon Dioxide emissions won’t really fall at all – as we’re still going to need fuel for our cars and trucks (unless they all become electric cars and trucks). In order to meet our insane 80% Carbon Dioxide reduction target by 2050 we’re still going to need to purchase billions of dollars worth of foreign abatement credits each and every year from 2012.
Our own Treasury estimates we’ll be spending $57 billion per year by 2050 on foreign abatement credits.
The Greens renewable fantasy would end up costing Australia north of $2.3 Trillion dollars by the turn of the century.
If we include Treasuries projected cost of the ongoing purchase of foreign abatement credits, we’ll end up costing Australia north of $6.5 Trillion dollars by the turn of the century.
It is madness to spend such money on fighting an imaginary hobgoblin. Imagine if this money was instead put into a sovereign wealth fund for the benefit of future Australians.
We cannot change the weather, but we can adapt to changing weather and this is what we should be doing – adapting not fighting CAGW.
Finally, imagine the amount of land space needed to house the Wind Turbines.
A typical wind farm of 20 turbines can extend over 101 hectares of land. So under the Greens pipe dream we will need to find approximately 510,000 hectares or 510,000 Km2 of land or an area 285 times the size of Sydney (Sydney’s urban area is approximately 1,788 Km2).
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the “cure” of using renewables sound worse than the problem? A bit like amputating your leg to “cure” your in-growing toe nail?
And as for the Greens wanting to spend $25 billion a year for the next 90 years of taxpayers money on renewable energy proves Bob Brown, Christine Milne and the rest of their merry band of eco-zealots are from an alternative Fringe universe.
Follow Andy on twitter