Essay by Eric Worrall
Andrew “Twiggy” Forest is an iron ore billionaire who is mounting a crusade against climate change. He also owns Squadron Energy, a major Aussie provider of renewable “solutions”.
Inside Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s urgent global climate campaign
By Nick O’Malley
October 28, 2023 — 5.00am
Outside, it is one of those perfect Sydney spring days, 26 degrees and a breeze that’s soft on the face.
But I’m under a red light inside a heat chamber in a University of Sydney laboratory experiencing what a potentially lethal temperature feels like, and for this, I blame Australia’s richest man, Fortescue chairman Dr Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.
Forrest described calls for everyone to do their bit to tackle climate change as flagrant greenwashing, arguing that there are about 1000 people in the world culpable for climate change and capable of fixing it.
He asked that when it was time to “put heads on spikes, start with mine, but please don’t forget the other 999”.
At another point, he grabbed an audience member’s hand and explained how he had once done the same thing to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modhi, telling him that if he did not address climate change he would have blood not just on his fingers, but all the way up his arm.
The talk had baffled some of those who attended. Why was an iron ore magnate lecturing academics, including health and climate specialists, on health and climate? And what was the urgency of Forrest’s race around the world with this DIY Ted Talk?
Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/inside-andrew-twiggy-forrest-s-urgent-global-climate-campaign-20231026-p5efbc.html#
Lucky Indian Prime Minister’s Modhi’s supporters weren’t in the room when Twiggy manhandled their hero, if this is what happened. Modhi has a loyal following, much like Donald Trump, and Modhi’s followers would have responded pretty much the same as Trump’s supporters would have, if some jerk started manhandling Trump on stage.
But Twiggy has more to say on climate change.
“Savagely imperfect:” Forrest lets fly at coal, nuclear and ex-Snowy boss Paul Broad
Sophie Vorrath 22 May 2023
Challenged by 2GB’s Ben Fordham to explain why – if coal power supplied 78% of New South Wales electricity demand in the last 24 hours – government would be pushing to switch coal plants off, Forrest’s response was swift.
“Oh mate, because if we don’t, we’re toast,” he said, referring to the threat of irreversible dangerous climate change.
But has Forrest considered nuclear power?
“It’s not a solution for Australia,” he says.
“If you’ve got 20 years, that’s fine… But when I build iron ore projects, I build them in three years, right? When I’m building renewable energy projects, you can kick them off in three months. It’s such a quick, energetic, inexpensive solution.
“Now, nuclear power plants, if they already exist … you can [use them for] firming power, do that. Do that kind of cyclical power, but don’t do baseload power. Let the punters out there enjoy lower power costs through renewable energy for all their baseload.”
Read more: https://reneweconomy.com.au/savagely-imperfect-forrest-lets-fly-at-coal-nuclear-and-ex-snowy-boss-paul-broad/
Renewables don’t solve anyone’s energy problems. Even Australia’s climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen recently admitted we shouldn’t expect gigawatts of new renewable capacity to stabilise the grid.
To be fair, Twiggy hasn’t ignored the need to firm renewables, his website lists around 20GW hours of firming projects.
But how much would this “firming” do for Australia?
20GW hours = 7.2 x 1013 joules.
Australia uses around 6000 Petajoules of energy per year, or 6 x 1018 joules.
So Twiggy’s firming projects deliver enough energy to power the grid for:
7.2 x 1013 ÷ 6 x 1018 = 0.000012 years = (x 365.25) 0.004 days = 378 seconds of firmed renewable energy.
Well done Twiggy, all your b*shit renewable and firming projects just kept the lights on for 6 minutes, when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing.
OK, I didn’t count his hydrogen electrolysis storage plant – but is there a point to counting the hydrogen? If hydrogen worked at scale, nobody would bother with battery packs. And full disclosure, I included all energy use in that 6000 Petajoule figure including oil and gas not used for generating electricity, because you know, electrify everything. And last year was 5700 Petajoule – though at least one previous year was higher than 6000.
Is 6 minutes enough? Anyone who thinks a nation as big as Australia can’t lose all wind energy at night , that a few minutes or hours backup would be enough, needs to look at the image below.
Blocking high pressure system which covered Australia on 16th June 2022. Very little wind blew that night. Source Bureau of Meteorology / JoNova, Fair Use, Low Resolution Image to Identify the Subject
Remember June is southern hemisphere winter, and in winter blocking high pressure systems produce cloudless, bitterly cold nights. According to a Guardian article published that very day, Australia was experiencing the coldest start to winter in decades. So on the night wind power dropped to zero across most of the country, a large percentage of Australia’s population was cranking up their home heating to ward off the bitter cold.
Twiggy, given blocking high pressure systems which kill wind power for days or weeks over the entire continent are a fact of life, too bad you didn’t give reliable 24×7 zero carbon nuclear reactors a chance. Large regions of Australia can also suffer wind droughts which last for months, as South Australia discovered in 2017.
Renewables, even “firmed” renewables, are a nonsense solution to a climate non problem – even if your name is Twiggy.