Renewable Power Australia – Fact Checking The Bolt Interview with Labor’s Tanya Plibersek

Posted on Thu 02/16/2017 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

Earlier this week, I interviewed deputy Labor Party leader Tanya Plibersek  on The Bolt Report. She claimed Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target would cut electricity prices, not raise them. I said this was wrong, and Plibersek in response cited her alleged sources.

Reader Peter Rees checked them, and has now sent her this letter. (my bolding added here)

Australian Deputy Labor Party leader Tanya Plibersek

Australian Deputy Labor Party leader Tanya Plibersek

Ms Plibersek,

Watched you on Bolt last night and have a couple of questions;

You referred to the Warburton Report (presumably from 2014) and claimed that it said we would save $15 billion with extra investment in renewables, but it actually says:

“The RET (Renewable Energy Target) has … mobilised national and international investment and built a strong domestic renewable energy industry which will be important to Australia’s future economic prosperity. The renewable energy target has mobilised around $20 billion in investment to date and will generate nearly $15 billion more by 2020 under the current target. Reducing the RET would threaten these investments and harm Australia’s reputation as a reliable investment destination. (WWF Australia, submission to the Climate Change Authority, p. 2)”

How does it actually “save” us money?

You said to build another coal fired power station would cost $28 billion but I can’t find anything on the internet that supports that claim. Latest CSIRO estimates for building a coal station is $3,100 per kW. Let’s look at replacement for the giant coal fired 1600MW Hazlewood station which is closing soon. So it’s $3100 x 1000000 x 1.6 = $4.96 billion. A far cry from $28 billion!

In comparison let’s look at a just released proposal for a 240 wind turbine windfarm at Rokewood in Victoria, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

The estimated cost is $1.5 billion dollars and the generation capacity is 800MW, exactly half of what Hazlewood produces. So at first glance it would appear that two of these windfarms would produce the same as Hazlewood at a cheaper cost.

However, windfarms only produce electricity when the wind is between certain limits, and [this] link shows an analysis of Australian windfarms in 2015 showed that on average, they only produce 29% of their rated capacity, this is known as their capacity factor.

So if you multiply 800 x 0.29 you get 230MW, so now it takes 7 Rokewood windfarms to equal Hazlewood which is 1.5 x 7 = $10.5 billion dollars, more than double the cost of a coal replacement. And remember that coal electricity is despatchable and valuable, wind electricity is intermittent and useless when it’s not required.

The Courier article says “If given the go-ahead the farm is expected to produce 800 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 450,000 homes.” Sounds impressive but it omits one tiny teensy weensy detail……only when the wind is blowing at optimum speed which is 29% of the time. The other 71% of the time they have to rely on dirty filthy stinking coal!

You said that renewables “push down” electricity prices and this was in the Warburton review released “late last year”. I think you are referring to the report released in late 2014… After skimming through it, I could find no statement saying that renewables “push down prices”, indeed it says the opposite, “The RET tends to raise the retail component of electricity prices—retailers have to purchase certificates to acquit their RET liabilities, the costs of which are passed on to customers.” However, if I have missed the statement, please show me the relevant statement and I will stand corrected.

You said in relation to the government’s plan to build a new coal power station, “Nobody thinks that will work”, but hundreds of new coal stations have been built around the world and there are at least 1500 in construction or in the pipeline, does “nobody” in these countries think it’s a good idea. And, of course, 99.9% of Australian engineers know that it would work. The only problem is whether the proposed coal station will be allowed to run at max capacity. If the insidious growth of renewables causes it to have to throttle back because of astronomical subsidies to wind, then of course, its viability comes into question.

I would appreciate an answer to these questions. Perhaps, I have totally misread everything.


Peter Rees

I am embarrassed that, as the interviewer, I did not have some of this information at my fingertips at the time of the interview.

Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.

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