Coalition carbon mess comes home to roost (in your bill)

The AFR is doing a good job on climate change in recent weeks (several years too late), carrying the torch for carbon pricing. More today:

Households in the eastern states will pay an average $78 more for their power in 2018-19 thanks to the Hazelwood brown coal power station’s closure in Victoria – with South Australians and Tasmanians paying an extra $150 to $204 – the Australian Energy Market Commission says.

News that residents of the two poorest states will bear the greatest burden from the decision of Hazelwood’s French and Japanese parent companies to shutter the highly polluting plant comes as federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg prepares to host a tense meeting with state ministers on Wednesday.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily d’Ambrosio and Queensland minister Mark Bailey slammed the federal government for its lack of leadership ahead of the COAG Energy Council meeting in Melbourne.

“Everybody is sick of the lack of leadership and silly political games being played by the Commonwealth, let’s get on with it and do what we were elected to do,” Ms d’Ambrosio said. Mr Bailey said the situation was “a hell of a mess” and there was nationwide disappointment.

Business and civil society groups, including the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the ACTU and the St Vincent de Paul Society, urged governments to act urgently to reform the energy system, saying the “status quo of policy uncertainty, lack of coordination and unreformed markets is increasing costs, undermining investment and worsening reliability risks”.

A carbon price would have accelerated the transition towards the cheapest new forms of low carbon power generation storage. As things stand that’s going to happen anyway via the much more expensive pathway of gas gouging, as it prices itself out of electricity generation in favour of a mix of renewable power and storage.

In lieu of a carbon price, all anyone wants is policy certainty. At least that way investments can be made.

Card carrying loon ponder, Do-nothing Malcolm, will deliver neither, adding to the staggering waste we’ve seen in the east coast market over the past decade:

  • 85bn thrown away by distribution firms with shrinking demand;
  • 80bn thrown away on Curtis Island LNG white elephants;
  • some unknowable damage bill for households and industry thanks to gas gouging, and
  • untold waste simply because we didn’t let a carbon price sniff out the most efficient options.

This epic failure goes to both political parties but the Coalition is number one.


  1. ResearchtimeMEMBER

    So a carbon tax would have made our power bills cheaper???? Right….

    And without the tax, those cheaper forms of electricity generation are currently uneconomic against current generation capacity????

    Do you honestly think we are that dumb??? What a complete monkey arse argument!

    • Goodness me. I’m arguing that power prices are going to be much more expensive than they would have been with a carbon price. Not that they would be cheaper than they were under coal.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Sorry, disagree. Cannot see the logic. You only have to see the mess Europe, especially Germany has got itself into – and the real problem of energy poverty, especially during winter!!!

        Solar panel prices quoted are laughable (mid day – no reference to longevity), and pragmatic they are not. But they have their place on buildings, houses, and in the heat of summer for AC. I am not certainly against them, but they are not the answer. And never will be.

        Windmills I like, something about the engineering. But as a power source they are localised, and truly expensive (which are near shown when costs are published) when you take in distribution networks and power surges. As the Danish have shown, once they reach 17-19% of the total energy capacity, they can take down the whole network via electrical surges – and take months to re-stablish. Modern networks need large continue relays, they cannot be run from node to line. Massive windmill programmes in the UK were shelved because it needed <£2bn in copper electrical networks to establish into the main gridline. And nothing of the distances here in Oz (and more wind there – so economics are more efficient than here too).

        Gas, great in some circumstances, America is swimming in it – and has displaced a large amount of coal. We could do with an LNG terminal in Sydney and Melbourne (for winter peak use), but not economic anywhere else. And I am not convinced we have that much economic gas either…

        So whats left??? Unconventional geothermal, which I think is the future, but is still experimental. No one will touch it for at generation of investment. This is one area we should be spending money in – but will take a decade at least, probably two…

        Tidal – no one seems to want to develop, yes its ugly aesthetically (seems to be the main angst – especially among the Greens), but no more so that windmills. And I like wind mills. And wave technology (granted, destroys beach use in some areas – and again Greens totally against it) has developed to the point where it could be harnessed on a massive scale – granted delivery not consistent, see wind (but far better and more reliable). Moreover, I have looked at the power outputs of wave technology, and banks of waves platforms… you can get easily 2000MW from a kilometre of beach (thats assuming normal wave activity, and the growth exponential when waves grow), especially in the roaring 40's. Good for Melbourne I would have thought… but yes, not sure about the autumn storms and survivability in a one in five year event. But surely part of the solution? …and yes, capex running into the billions, and large ongoing opex. But still every economic (techical studies only, there is no fully operation programme I know off operating anywhere globally)).

        Hydro – not really suitable in most places – and the Greens totally hate it. Again I love it, bush walked in Tasmania, new sandy beaches forming, great fishing and tourism potential – and it has that engineering prowess about it. Man over nature kind of thing – with hundreds of years of useable life.

        Nuclear is politically not an option… never will be.

        Then there is coal. Cheap, low tech – baseline, to which you can add peak to. Brown coal is dumb, but…

    • Solar is cheaper than coal, it is NOW the most efficient energy transfer known. Solar combined with modern storage allows for households to be totally off grid. This is not 3 years ago – so don’t bother arguing the point because its a fact.

      Your assertions regarding wind are pathetic. Truly ridiculous. The outages have been researched and renewables played no part. Sorry – none.

      You’re a joke.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Kurt – new name… you make assertions without the proof. Storage is a dream. Solar is massively expensive – have a look at Germany. And the lack of your technical knowledge about wind limits says volumes. I don’t care what biased website you point me to. Again, everything I say above can be hunted down and proved. Suggest it is you that should do a bit of reading. I played in this area, covering multiple sources for more than a decade…

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Mate, its not a magic wand – wave some money and the solution appears. The real world doesn’t work that way! In any case, you don’t need to – ask Tesla! They have a storage solution already. Problem is – its bloody expensive. Economics don’t work yet.

        Love these Tesla roof tiles though! ( Thinking of using them myself at some stage. Love the slate look.

      • Yeah researchtime, I think the real KG would have been pretty offended. This “Kurt” burst onto the scene yesterday with a classic straw man. Making assertions without proof is consistent with that.

        Perhaps this “Kurt” is someone who got a low grade at uni over a poor understanding of Mr Gödel’s work, and this is his revenge?

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Pa – that is a truly naive statement. Just think about it for 30 seconds – with reference what I have written above! We have storage ability – the cost impossible for most. The COST!!!

        Magnesium batteries (aka Toyota tech) are a decade away – until then…

      • Kurt, what is the guaranteed life of a solar storage battery and the replacement cost of the battery?

    • The bulk of the cost is in transmission rather than generation. The electricity distribution companies now wants to ‘gold plate’ their transmission network even more.

      At the current rate of price increase in transmission and the decrease in solar + battery prices, the inflection point is less than 5 years away. With a carbon tax, the death spiral will come a bit earlier, however the greed of the electricity distributors guaranteed this outcome.

      • “the inflection point is less than 5 years away”

        OK. Business as usual for the next 5 years then think about it again.

  2. More green nonsense and central planning.

    We need to tax the crap out of cars to make the transition to public transport.
    We need to tax the crap out of coal to make the transition to unreliable, expensive energy sources based on wind and solar. Don’t worry, everything will work, just trust government to pull the right levers, we are great planners, just look at the NBN !

  3. I think that we should tax everything at 100%, create a massive bureaucracy and re-distribute to everyone on a needs basis. Theory works wonderfully. Oh, hang on…

    • I think we should outsource everything just like we did with our power generatorss and housing departments. Theory works wonderfully. Oh, hang on…

    • I can’t deal with nuanced, balanced discussions taking in all the considerations and arriving at a negotiated outcome which meats all the criteria – I can only deal in absolutes.

      If I can’t have it my way – then we need to nuke it from orbit, its the only way to make sure.

      Am I doing this right ?

      • That’s what’s technically known in the trade as a straw man, “Kurt”, but you know that already. 🙂

  4. Meanwhile the world thunders towards the end of massive relience on coal…

    – Part of massive investment in renewables by The NL, which presented a plan to go carbon neutral by 2050.
    – Cheaper than anyone thought it would be, by much, after the same happened with the previous windfarm.
    – Investment by a major oil company which couldn’t be happier that they managed to catch this train after they previously had an O, shit-moment, thinking they missed the renewables gravytrain.

    Oz is stil at the trainstation waiting forthesteam powered locomotive to arrive.

  5. hey clownsoes where’s my 550 bucks a year, you owe me $1650 by now.

    “Every household right around Australia will benefit to the tune of $550 a year. So this is a $550 a year windfall to every household in Australia…”

    rudd only gave me 900, and that was a once-off

  6. @Research time
    The problem is you ignore the external costs of coal and gas in the form of climate change.
    I would have much more respect for an argument that Australia as a minor player in global emissions output, but with lots of real risk from climate change (reef tourism, agriculture, sea rise in some highly populated coastal areas) ought be a follower of the major emitters (in national terms). Until the major emitters act we should maximise our economic position by exporting and using the cheapest available energy options. At least this recognises the overwhelming scientific consensus of the relevantly qualified, but tempers it with real politic. A mere risk management approach, coupled with our very high per capita emissions, demands an cinreasing move away from fossil fuels at a rate of emissions reduction not much less than the major emitters.
    Remember keeping coal in the ground is a form of national saving if climate change is somehow disproven in the future, and a form of intergenerational resource equity. We could securitise in situ coal deposits as an investment/savings vehicle for deniers and “clean coal” optimists as an alternative to forcing up the price of housing!

    • ResearchtimeMEMBER

      Not sure? Some mass balance calculations suggest there isn’t though carbon on this planet to do what some are claiming…

      Moreover, the world was 2 degrees C warmer 7k years ago. Great Barrier Reef was created, locked up a lot of carbon.

      And consider this – if Australia hadn’t moved north, and Sydney was still where Hobart is today, the world would be 5-7 degrees C warmer!!! No circum-polar current… would we have survived, with forests where Antartica is today??? Hell yeah. Would we have flourished??? – hell yeah.

      The key point is, as a species we are driven by fear of the unknown. And no scientific climate model can remotely explain why temperatures haven’t jumped 5 to 10 degrees as many were claiming in the year 2000. We are not dying, there is no mass extinction event. And in a hundred years time when the worlds population is realistically lower than it is today, we could easily be in an ice age, because we are over-due due for one.

      Big fan of clean energy – but I smell BS a mile away.

    • Good sense Explorer,
      RE does not take Methane into account. Methane levels have been rising rapidly enough to attract the attention of authorities to the extent they blame agriculture, ie animals, and ignore Fracking.
      The academic making .the report claimed it was hard to tell what was responsible for the rising methane levels.
      This was interesting because 3 years ago 2 Southern cross Uni scientists did a road trip between Lismore in NSW and Chinchilla in QLD with a device that read methane levels. The scientists equipment was able to distingush between swamp, animal and coal bed methane.
      From lismore into QLD levels were close to normal background , when they got near chinchilla the levels spiked considerably, a large area around the district also had very elevated readings.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Have strong doubts about the role of methane in any global warming. Firstly, there isn’t that much of it. Yes I understand it has a disproportionate effect, far greater than carbon. But these claims about Artic methane using global warming are complete fiction, because the Tundra didn’t even exist during the last ice age, they are the result of the earth being substantially warmer than now during the last inter-glacial peak.

        Now your point with gas from fracing – still very small volumes comparatively. And in the large scale of changes in transportation, completely out-weighted by developments via technology. Even if we swapped to 30% hybrid cars over the next 10 years (which is not an unreasonable assumption), that would would out-weight gas leaks by several orders of magnitude, at a bare minimum.