Blackout Race Underway
Prior to my trip to Australia, I believed Germany would be the first country to succumb to severe blackouts as the result of its drive to use renewables in preference to fossil fuels so as to cut CO2 emissions.
It now looks as though Australia could win this dubious honor, as Australia has actually removed coal-fired power plants from service while Germany has added them.
The three contestants for this dubious blackout honor are:
California is a distant third possibility, primarily because it can draw power from surrounding states when its renewables fail to deliver. California’s actual reductions in CO2 emissions are very small when compared with its stated objectives of a 40% cut by 2030 and an 80% cut by 2050.
Australia is rich in both coal and natural gas resources, but has imposed impediments on developing new natural gas resources, while also having inadequate infrastructure for delivering natural gas across the country from where abundant supplies exist in northern and western Australia.
The Australian government has adopted a renewable energy target (RET) of 23% by 2020, with the Labor party indicating it desires an RET of 50%.
A backlash is developing against Australia’s RET goals, with the One Nation party and leading conservatives, such as former prime minister Tony Abbott, joining forces in efforts to repeal the RET.
Disputing the need for the RET is a recent poll among Australians which showed that 45% of Australians “balk at paying one cent more for electricity from renewables.” (The Australian, February 28, 2017)
Meanwhile, businesses are complaining about rising energy costs that are endangering manufacturing jobs. (The Australian, February 24, 2017)
So far this year, the entire state of South Australia has suffered through a day-long blackout, while, subsequently, 40,000 homes in the city of Adelaide endured a second blackout. These blackouts have been attributed to the inability of wind to provide adequate power during peak periods.
What’s most disturbing about the current situation is that none of the three blackout contestants have cut CO2 emissions by any meaningful amount, while still endangering their citizens to dangerous blackouts.
Cuts in CO2 emissions as of 2016:
- Australia, less than 20%
- Germany, 27%
- California, less than 12%
If blackouts are already occurring when cuts in CO2 emissions are far below ultimate targets, how soon will larger cuts in CO2 emissions result in more damaging blackouts?
It’s impossible to cut CO2 emissions enough to have any effect on climate, even if atmospheric CO2 has an effect, without destroying living standards and endangering the lives of billions of people in developing countries.
Cutting CO2 emissions is a fool’s errand.
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