Blowhard on Wind Energy

March 29, 2019

And Mexico will pay for “the wall”…I know a lot about walls.

The stunning fall in the costs of wind, solar and storage – estimated on a global scale – has already put the fossil fuel industry on notice, as we reported earlier this week.

Now, we can publish the BloombergNEF cost estimates for Australia, and they reveal an even more devastating outcome for the fossil fuel industry and their cheer leaders in politics and the media.

This graph above prepared by BloomberNEF shows how.

The headline number is the cost of “bulk energy”, where unsubsidised solar and wind easily beat coal and gas. Even the highest priced wind and solar is cheaper than the lowest cost estimate for coal, so the Coalition might as well save $10 million to taxpayers funds and stop the feasibility study for the new Queensland coal generator now. We already know it makes no sense.

But the BNEF numbers tell us a lot more, and reinforce the cost estimates produced by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator last year, that found that wind and solar, even backed by hours of storage and fully dispatchable, still beat the fossil fuel generators.

The graph above shows the cost of “bulk energy” on the left, and in the middle is what BloomberNEF describes as “dispatchable” generation, which includes what is usually described as the “base-load” coal and gas generators, and onshore wind and solar PV “firmed up” by storage to make them dispatchable.

To the right is what BloombergNEF refers to as “peaking plants”, and it is where it groups technologies like pumped hydro, open cycle gas, fast-start gas reciprocating engines and stand-alone batteries.

These two columns under dispatchability and flexibility deserve further explanation, because when the cost wind and solar plunged so dramatically in the last decade, and turned the tables on coal and gas on the cost of bulk energy, the fossil fuel spruikers have been hanging on to this idea of “baseload” and “back-up” to argue that the “intermittents” are still more expensive.

Not so, says the BloomberNEF data, along with that of the CSIRO and AEMO.

As BloombergNEF’s head of energy economics Elena Giannakopoulou observes, batteries in Australia are already cheaper than gas plants in providing peaking services.

In the right hand column, the comparison Bloomberg makes (on a $/MWh basis) is between stand-alone batteries and technologies that have been offering peaking services, namely open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) and gas reciprocating engines.

“And we see that there are markets today like Australia, U.K. and Japan where batteries are already cheaper than gas plants in providing peaking services,” she tells RenewEconomy by email.

The middle column is also interesting.

These costs reflect the combined system, wind or solar plus the battery, and include capex, and operating and maintenance costs for the power generating asset (ie solar or wind) and the battery.

The range in estimated costs for wind and solar plus storage reflects the number of hours of storage.

The cheapest is one hour, and the more expensive four hours. The reason why the batteries appear cheaper when paired with wind and solar, rather than stand-alone, is because they source the electricity for charging for free, as part of a combined asset.

“There is no charging cost here as batteries are charging from the renewable energy  asset,” Giannakopoulou says. “The storage capacity here (ie output in MW and duration in hrs) is determined by the amount of electricity generated by solar/wind you want to “firm” ie ensure that is available when it’s not sunny or windy.

“These systems can now offer what we call “dispatchability” ie give solar and wind plants access to high value hours when they might otherwise be offline. As a result they compete with thermal plants that provide bulk electricity ie combined -cycle gas plants and coal plants.

“Already, in a number of major markets like Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., new solar and wind-plus-battery systems with, say, four hours of storage sized at 50 per cent of the generating plant capacity, can compete with new coal and gas plants on an unsubsidized cost-of-energy basis.

“In Australia, a wind-plus-battery system with 100 per cent dispatchability is already beating new coal and CCGT plants. And even in China, new solar- and wind-plus-battery systems with a low degree of dispatchability have reached cost parity with low-cost coal plants.”

Of course, not every wind and solar farm will need to have its own batteries or pumped hydro and match each MW of output with an equivalent in storage. Like the gas plants that have long provided back up for the fleet of coal generators, this is best provided on a system-wide basis.

And that is what is going to make the results of the government underwriting tender very interesting. On these estimates, it will be hard to see how the five fossil fuel plants beat the renewables plus storage proposals on costs.

Some of these proposals may depend on a “system” case, and the three pumped hydro projects in South Australia, for instance, are competing for what is for now a narrow window. (i.e. there is probably not room for all three.

But so far the government hasn’t bothered to seek advice of the Australian Energy Market  Operator, which has put together its Integrated System Plan.

Even so, with costs of renewables and storage continuing to fall, as BloombergNEF reported earlier this week, they have fallen by between 10 per cent and 35 per cent just this past year – the argument for a new coal generator becomes even more a fantasy than it was at the start.

Finally, it should be noted that the headline on this story says that these cost falls will stun the fossil fuel industry. Actually, they won’t. They know full well that their technology is no longer competitive, as the heads of all the major utilities, and even their peak body, has admitted.

The only people that don’t know, or won’t accept, are the ideologues and ill-informed who insist on taking the Catweazle approach to modern technologies. One day, they may wake up, and they will be stunned by what they see.

40 Responses to “Blowhard on Wind Energy”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    The most disgusting leader of a country the world has seen since WW2. And his followers believe every single one of his fecking lies. IMHO this can only be explained with a bad elitist education system and privatised media without any public control on the one side and an election system that doesn’t work democratically on the other side. Trump averaged 15 inaccuracies or mistruths a day in 2018 – almost triple the rate from the year before. The oligarchs have long taken control over “the land of the free”, far too long.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Slow down, Chucky. It is a bit of a stretch to say Trump is “the MOST disgusting leader of a country the world has seen since WW2”. There are more than a handful of contenders for that—Pol Pot, Mao, Saddam, etc.—-folks responsible for the deaths of tens of millions.

      I will grant that it is perhaps acceptable to say that he is AMONG the most disgusting, but my real objection is that it is NOT the business of some half-assed Irishman to be making such pronouncements—-that should be left to us AMERICANS.

      Unless, of course, you are the Russian Troll that you have appeared to be several times in the past?. Intent on sowing discord and division here in the U.S. as we approach the next election?

      • Sir Charles Says:

        Better a “half-assed Irishman” than a total asshole like you, dumb old guy.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Again, no real response—-just puerile and impotent name-calling. Perhaps Chucky will come out from behind the smoke he’s blowing and address my 3 points?

          1) Even though I hate to say it, Trump is not the “MOST” disgusting
          2) Chucky has entirely too much to say (most of it negative) about America and American affairs for a foreigner
          3) Chucky has given evidence of sowing discord and division in the past. Coupled with 2), is he a troll for one of America’s enemies?

          Try again, Chucky

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Sure. How could I forget that only American supremacists are allowed to interfere in other countries and even destabilise whole regions. If you can’t take a counterpunch, dumbo, then you shouldn’t give out in the first place. Simple as that. I can only laugh about your whining and your conspiracy hypotheses.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            BTW, I leave that “sowing discord and division” to your beloved president and all his supporters.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            More evasion and feigned disdain from Chucky. I’m not talking about “American supremacists” of the past (along with all the other colonialists of the past, including the British, who had MANY Irish fighting and “interfering” for them in their colonial “wars”). Mostly ancient history, that. I’m talking about RIGHT NOW, and the efforts by the Russians to undermine America.

            Whining and conspiracy theories? I have compiled DATA on times and dates of posting comments that make YOU look very bad—-that you’re not in Ireland, that you work a “shift” as a Crock commenter, that there may be TWO Chuckies sharing the job, that you take lunch breaks, that you work a five or six day week and “take weekends off”.

            I suggest that you DO leave that “sowing discord and division” to our beloved president and all his supporters. Find something in Ireland to complain about to other Irishmen instead.

            Try again, Chucky—my three points remain unanswered.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Your history knowledge is as limited as the rest of your rant, dumbo. Why don’t you come forward with your “data”, you paranoid moron? Let’s even see more fecking lies and conspiracy hypotheses. LOL.

            I only say one word for now: Iraq.

            Here are your real trolls:

            Last week Facebook admitted to storing hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ passwords in plain text that could be searched by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. The admission came just a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that Facebook shared the personal data of as many as 87 million users with a political data firm.

            In reality, Facebook’s business model is based on giving personal data to advertisers so they can tailor their pitches precisely to potential customers. So despite repeated reassurances by Mark Zuckerberg, the firm will continue to do what it wants with personal information.

            => Corporations are endangering Americans. Trump doesn’t care

            From Boeing to Monsanto and beyond: this week has revealed the tip of the iceberg of regulatory neglect

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Facebook and regulatory failures? Iraq? (which is ancient history) More evasion.

            Show my data? Not yet, Chucky—-you’re not done burying yourself, and I’m sure the leadup to the next election will put more dirt in your shovel.

            BTW, The real topic of this post is wind energy—-too bad you had to inject so much politics (and trolling) into it with the very first comment and most of what followed. Do you care about climate change? Or are you here just to put down the USA?

          • Sir Charles Says:

            My OP was directed to that video above at the very start of the article. Look into your mirror if you wanna see who is “trolling” here.

            For the rest, see all my other posts, dumb old guy.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            That video was just an AMERICAN poking some appropriate fun at our President-by-accident, as is our right. It was NOT the topic of the post. I almost replied with a joke about ‘…and when you slam a windbag like Trump against a wall, a whole lot of smelly hot air is forced out”, which is MY right as an american viter

            To repeat what I said about the total inappropriateness of your comment, “It is a bit of a stretch to say Trump is “the MOST disgusting leader of a country the world has seen since WW2…it is NOT the business of some half-assed Irishman to be making such pronouncements—-that should be left to us AMERICANS”.

            “Unless, of course, you are the Russian Troll that you have appeared to be several times in the past?. Intent on sowing discord and division here in the U.S. as we approach the next election?”

            Keep trying for the last word, Chucky. Pile up that dirt next to your grave.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            The right to express an opinion is not limited to US Americans, dumbo. Your arrogance just shows us the outcome of an education system where you have to pledge a flag every morning. Not far away from countries like North Korea. You know? That country whose leader your beloved president fell in love with 😜

          • dumboldguy Says:

            The right to express opinions is not unlimited, especially for foreigners like you, Chucky. The courts have upheld the “Don’t shout fire in a crowded and dark movie theater” doctrine, and YOU, as a foreigner specifically, have no guaranteed right to spout anti-American crap from afar—-you WOULD be protected IF you actually came here and stood on American soil—-try it and see how long you get away with it before someone slaps you silly—-tell me your travel plans, and I will be there to “greet” you when you set foot in our country.

            Your abyssmal IGNORANCE is displayed by “Your arrogance just shows us the outcome of an education system where you have to pledge a flag every morning”.

            FYI, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects students from being forced to salute the American flag OR say the Pledge of Allegiance in public school. I’s been a LONG time since anyone HAD to pledge a flag every morning in our schools—you’re 72 years behind the times.

            Which brings me back to the REST of your anti-American crap—-“bad elitist education system and privatised media without any public control on the one side and an election system that doesn’t work democratically on the other side”, which in itself is pretty damn bad and un-American if not as egregious as “most disgusting world leader”. Another chance to dig yourself out, Chucky—-DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING GOOD TO SAY ABOUT ANYTHING AMERICAN ??? Let’s hear it!

            Or are you going to keep shoveling the shit and trying to get the last word?—-if so, at least the flowers will grow well on your grave once it’s filled with your “diggings”.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            correction—you’re 76 years behind the times.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            “especially for foreigners like you”

            Sure supremacist, and the moon is made of cheese.


            … “human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech” …

          • dumboldguy Says:

            … “human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech” …????

            Are you paraphrasing? Here’s the actual wording.

            Article 19.
            Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

            It’s a fine document, and it’s too bad that so much of it has been ignored and even destroyed down through the years. That “regardless of frontiers” provision is almost laughable considering the conflicts over “frontiers” that have ALWAYS existed on this planet.

            And the USA has not taken well to the idea that “impart information and ideas” means in the slightest that the USA should allow Russia to interfere in its elections and internal affairs and employ trolls in Ireland (supposedly) to spread anti-American propaganda.

            Keep digging and piling it up, Chucky. May I suggest that your bosses are not going to look favorably on this foolish “get the last word” fight you are having with yourself? How often do they do performance reviews?

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Tell that “especially for foreigners like you” to your Steve Bannon who is working hard to manipulate European elections at the moment.



            He also supported that Brexit campaign which is currently tearing the so-called “United Kingdom” into pieces. They wanted to divide Europe. But all they’ve achieved so far is a divided UK and billions of costs mainly for the British people.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            And I hope folks in those countries are protesting his involvement in their affairs just as I am doing with you. The difference is that Bannon is just a RWNJ who is openly working for the right wing cause. whereas YOU are suspected of being a Russian troll doing your dirt in the dark. IMO, there’s a difference>

        • Sir Charles Says:

          There is a big difference between your paranoid suspicions and reality. But I said that already. I’m not going to run the same old circles with you over and over again, dumbo. You’re sometimes good craic when you go ballistic. But only for a short while. In the long run you turn out being a mystified sad person, a dumb old guy just.

          • dumboldguy Says:


            I finally got to Chucky with the “what will your bosses think when they see how stupid you’ve been?”. Chucky delusionally thinks he can bullshit Crockers but DOES worry that his bosses are smarter than us, so he’s going to back off, all the while blowing smoke with his feeble insults. Good, maybe we can now get back to discussing climate change on this climate change site (at least for a while until Chucky goes stupid on us again))

          • Sir Charles Says:

            My bosses are sitting here, dumbo…

          • dumboldguy Says:


          • Sir Charles Says:

            Are you paraphrasing? Here’s the actual wording.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Easy to fool you, dumbo. In truth, I’m a Chinese garden gnome. And in the night time I’m secretly cutting the garden hose into 5 inch pieces. Because from time to time there is a dumb old guy who comes knocking at my door asking for a telescope. So I’m selling him one of this pieces and he’s as happy as a kite. But he repeats coming, because he says that the telescope would have lost sharpness over night. So I’m just selling him another piece and he’s again as happy as a kite. That’s been going on for a while now. Sorry, I can’t send you any photographs for proof because my bosses have strictly prohibited me to give out any data…

          • dumboldguy Says:


          • Sir Charles Says:

            Are you paraphrasing again? I see there was some land coming with that breeze. No no continence this boring yawnk.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            The self-consumed narcissistic D-K sufferer just can’t quit, can he?
            Sounds drunk too.

  2. Sir Charles Says:

    Fascists networking all over the world…

    => Guns, Climate Denial and Conspiracies: Al Jazeera Captures Australian Far Right Political Figures Meeting Koch Industries

    Sitting in the offices of Koch Industries in Washington D.C., far-right Australian politician Steve Dickson shows his hand in a request for their cash.

    “This lefty attitude that just thinks solar and wind are going to change the world for the better … it’s sending us all broke,” Dickson, the Queensland leader of the political party One Nation, told Koch Industries director of federal affairs Catherine Haggett.

    The exchange with the petrochemical giants, from September 2018, is part of a blockbuster hidden-camera investigative series released by Al Jazeera.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      It reads like a bad dime novel…

      When Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Hanson joined former One Nation senator and climate science denier Malcolm Roberts to drink champagne in front of Parliament House in the Australian capital.

      “We will free the world of this rubbish they call climate change,” said a jubilant Malcolm Roberts. Roberts would later leave the Senate after it was discovered his British citizenship should have disqualified him from standing.

      With them drinking champagne was American climate science denier and blogger Tony Heller, who had been in Australia with Roberts.

      Heller has also suggested a conspiracy behind the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed.

      Some of you might know Tony Heller who sold himself to his audience for many years as the “scientist Steven Goddard”.

      Fascists networking all over the world…

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    Coal-fired power plants in the Southeast and Ohio Valley stand out. In all, 74% of coal plants cost more to run than building new wind or solar, analysts found.

    => New Wind and Solar Power Is Cheaper Than Existing Coal in Much of the U.S., Analysis Finds

  4. jfon Says:

    I don’t regard Bloomberg New Energy Finance as a reliable source – as their name suggests, they get their income from financing wind and solar projects. Their graphs used to include a disclaimer that ‘ Dispatchable power sources cannot be directly compared with non-dispatchable renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar PV power, which cannot be controlled by operators.’ That’s still true, but they don’t say it any more.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      So what are you saying, and why? That fossil fuels are really cheaper and we should stick with them? Are you anti-renewable energy? You do NOT want to see the vultures and the greedy rich sink some of their $$$ into wind and solar? Don’t forget that the world of finance that consumes so much of this country’s energy and resources is built on bullshitting people out of their money before they bullshit you out of yours.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      Well. It’s not just Bloomberg coming to this conclusion. Lazard comes to similar results.

  5. […] “And we see that there are markets today like Australia, U.K. and Japan where batteries are already cheaper than gas plants in providing peaking services,” […]

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