$14,000 per MWh – the price South Australia Pays for Renewables Madness

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Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The South Australian Government been forced to beg fossil fuel operators to bring mothballed plants back online, to contain wild swings in electricity spot price caused by unstable renewable production, prices which last month peaked at $14,000 / MWh – up from more normal prices of $100 / MWh which prevailed before political favouritism towards renewables messed up the market.

South Australia intervenes in electricity market as prices hit $14,000MWh

Turmoil in South Australia’s heavily wind-reliant electricity market has forced the state government to plead with the owner of a mothballed gas-fired power station to turn it back on.

The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market (NEM) prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000MWh maximum price.

Complaints from business about the extreme prices – in normal times they are below $100 – prompted the state government to ask energy company ENGIE to switch its mothballed Pelican Point gas power station back on.

The extraordinary intervention – first foreshadowed in December when the government of premier Jay Weatherill hosted an energy crisis meeting – comes as electricity prices soar to near record levels across the nation.

It also comes as the wider national energy market is in upheaval. Gas prices are surging thanks to a brutal cold snap in the southeast that means electricity price relief from bringing more gas generation back into service could be limited.

Cold weather and the closure of South Australia’s Northern and Playford coal-fired power stations as wind provides an increasing share of the state’s power have combined to send NEM prices to their highest average levels since the 2007 drought.

“A planned outage of the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria, coupled with higher than expected gas prices and severe weather conditions have contributed to large-scale price volatility in the energy spot market in recent days,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

The failure in the energy market has led the Government to ask ENGIE, the owner of Pelican Point Power Station, to run the plant for a short period, providing 239MW of additional supply into the energy market.

“It is believed the increased base-load supply from the previously mothballed plant will lead to improved system security.”

Read more: http://www.afr.com/business/energy/south-australia-intervenes-in-electricity-market-as-prices-hit-14000mwh-20160714-gq5sac

Once again renewables are demonstrating their total inability to cope without backup from real power generation systems.

The fallout from this disaster may extend much further than a month of insane electricity bills.

Australia is currently struggling with an ongoing trend for heavy industry to translocate business operations to other countries in Asia, countries which provide stable regulatory environments and costs, lower taxes, cheaper wages, and less red tape. The ongoing renewables madness, which afflicts every state in Australia to some extent, may convince even more large employers that it simply isn’t worth waiting for Australian politicians to stop messing around with fashionable non-solutions to the nation’s energy needs.

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187 thoughts on “$14,000 per MWh – the price South Australia Pays for Renewables Madness

  1. A fair example of how “renewables’ work in practice. The Germans seem to be having similar problems with solar and wind. Unless and until someone has utility-scale storage in service, renewables are not workable. (I do wonder if a troll will insist that storage exists nevertheless).

    • Exactly. The insanity here is the total lack of planning. They did not need to build all this intermittent generation to realise that it would need bulk storage capabilities to work. So why has it not been part of the system from the outset?

      Large scale deployment of intermittent generation has been going on for at least ten years. Yet it has just been dumped on top of distribution system that has not been adapted?

      The problem is all the ‘carbon credits’ and renewable obligations do not incentivise building storage infrastructure, just the basic generation. The investments in renewables has been designed to fail
      This is because it never was about the environment, it was about subsidising the banks and creating labour intensive installation.

      Feed-in tariffs and preferentially high prices for solar provide a revenue source for householders and a revenue source entitle a bank to lend money. The act of lending instantly makes the bank richer and creates “wealth” in the economy.

      This was never about energy and energy distribution, it is about bailing out the banks ( again ). That is why the distribution question was never addressed.

      • A classic example is Ivanpah. Similar sites have been build with molten salt thermal storage which means that they can provide power at times of high demand instead of just providing it at the time of day when it is least in demand and worth the lower price.

        Ivanpah was designed to fail.

      • Hey Tom,
        While I’m not a troll, I do work for the electric utility industry. Like yourself, I am also a climate realist. Preaching my comment with that,
        Utility scale storage can exist in the form of hydro power pumped storage facilities. The only real major hurdle is land space for both initial 100% “Green” production with an additional 200% production capacity space to lift the water to the water storage location. So, while it would take almost 300% capacity, it is possible. Problem is, to replace a perfectly functional non CO2 producing nuclear plant like Diablo Canyon in California with a solar/wind combo facility and allow for enough production to charge the pumped storage battery, you would need to cover the SF peninsula with Wind and solar farms from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way down to an imaginary line from Palo Alto to the coast and from the coast to the bay.

      • In the US, where there are many technically suitable sites, try getting a new dam or pumped storage plant permitted. Once you spend years avoiding whatever newt, weird crocus, NIMBY’s and other species in the surrounding area, then take care of the ever expanding endangered species areas that not only cover where those species are, but also where they might be in unknown numbers of years later.

      • So Bryan, you are contemplating pumping salt water aren’t you ? That is after all the only source of water we have in California.

        Don’t know the corrosion life time of salt water turbines.

        But if you cover the peninsula as you propose, then we won’t need the power anyway, because silicon valley will move to Spokane or some other place which already has water storage, and without any pumping either; something called a grand Coulee, whatever the hell a Coulee is.

        g

      • Taum Sauk is a pumped storage site in Missouri. I think it is the highest place in the Missouri Alps; maybe 174 feet.

        So oeman 50 must be thinking of somewhere else where he saw a good spot.

        g

      • George E. Smith, a coulee is a deep ravine or gulch, usually dry, that has been formed by running water. The Grand Coulee is an ancient riverbed in Washington state.

      • No George, I’m not contemplating pumping Salt Water as you suggested. These would need to be fully contained fresh water reservoirs and could be maintained in Underground storage facilities. All that is needed is to be able to lift a sufficient quantity of water to the top storage tanks during the day to allow for sufficient flow to create electricity for night time usage. If need be, the fresh water could be gathered through desalination. Granted these reservoirs would need to be massive but nothing that can’t be done. Perhaps Elon Musk or Bill Gates, or even Leonardo DiCaprio might front the money needed since they are so gung ho about renewable tech.

      • Heck, if we have all this electricity we can’t store, why don’t we just remove the salt from the sea-water with desalination plants. Then we pump it all up to mountain tops, run it down through turbines, and finally use the water to irrigate grapes and produce wine?

        There. I think I just solved all California’s problems.

        Funding? Ummm.

        We are talking California here! We don’t need no stinking funding!

      • The insanity here is believing that atmospheric CO2 actually drives climate change and that warming is dangerous.

    • Tom Halla says: July 14, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      … I do wonder if a troll will insist that storage exists nevertheless …

      We have lots of technologies for utility scale energy storage. Some of it is even used now. For instance there is pumped storage hydroelectricity. There is 127 GW installed capacity worldwide. If you’re in the right place, it’s a great way to store energy.

      The problem isn’t the lack of technology, the problem is economics.

      • Sure. Except DPR South Oz is one of the flattest, driest, hottest places on earth. There’s no hydro, let alone pumping storage. DPRSA is talking about batteries. To store enough power for a STATE! (Presumably the fanboiz are talking about the Tesla “game changer.”)

        But hey, at 4:30am on a warm autumn weekend night in May with no industry, heating or household consumption DPRSA ran on just renewables with no coal backup for a few hours. So it was all worth it.

      • “if you’re in the right place” is the key word. ‘The right place’ for pumped storage hydroelectricity is an exceedingly small area, and most of those areas are met with stiff enviro opposition. Then there’s the small detail of negative energy generation — “PHS generated (net) -5.501 GWh of energy in 2010 in the US[13] because more energy is consumed in pumping than is generated.” Seems an odd way of providing energy storage.

      • Bill Marsh says: July 15, 2016 at 4:38 am

        … more energy is consumed in pumping than is generated.

        “Lisa, in this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!”

        Any storage device will always lose some energy. The efficiency of pumped hydro approaches 80%.

      • Better to build your reservoirs where the water flows in by gravity from above. If you define pumped hydro as 80 percent efficient, then the non pumped hydro must be well over 100 percent.

      • CommieBob…read Bryan A’s comment just preceding yours and take it to heart. The issue really isn’t could it technically be done but rather does it make any good sense to waste your resources to do it.

      • So correct me if I’m wrong (I was once) but 80% efficiency means you consume more than you get from pumping.

        Actually you lose about 20%.

        Pumped storage can be worth doing if you have some other agenda. For example, the San Luis Reservoir just south of the SF Bay area is a very large water storage pond, which can store a whole lot of water drained out of the San Joachin / Sacramento Rivers for storage and then doling out to central valley Ag and other users.

        The water is pumped from the O’neil forebay, up into SLR from whence it is dispensed, and it runs turbines on the way back to the distribution canals. They also have some bird mincers on the hills around SLR and it can blow something fierce their, which when it happens can make SLR a darn dangerous place for small boaters (great fishing hole).

        Large areas of the bottom of SLR have been open for public inspection in recent years, because the stuff that is needed to turn it into a lake, is no longer available in
        California.

        But in wetter years, it has been a sane system. Probably not so in the future because with all of the shut downs of other real energy sources in California, we no longer have either the water, nor the excess off hours electricity to do the pumping. No the bird choppers aren’t enough to do the job.

        G

      • Hey Bob,

        I had a Honda 350 with a full fairing that would approach 80 mph … it could only get to 55 mph, but I guess you could say it was approaching the higher speed.

        Now with pumps: If you pump up the hill at 65% efficiency, and the generator on the downhill is running at 75% efficiency then system as a whole is running at less than 50% efficiency. You can throw in the hydraulic losses as well if you really want to.

      • “…Any storage device will always lose some energy. The efficiency of pumped hydro approaches 80%…”

        Without funny math and accounting, that is an impossibility.

        More excess equipment to sit idle.
        Excess renewable energy generators during operable periods to generate excess energy for:
        Energy converted to work pumping water uphill.
        Hydroelectric facilities sitting offline to handle the ‘needed’ renewable hydro power during poor renewable generating times.

        Not to forget that excess equipment is not free.
        Or that wind towers sitting still are prone to very short lives.
        Or that ‘molten salt’ reservoirs are not scaled for long term or citywide power.

        Then there is still that nagging difficulty that renewable energy supplies are not reliable or consistent enough for maintaining heavy industry.

      • So what is the total system efficiency?
        Solar is 20%
        Electric pump motors are 75%
        The pump/turbine itself is 75%
        Then you have the reverse of that when the water falls back into the now turbine/generator and into the grid transformers and power lines which also have loss.
        I’ll let you do the math but it’s single digits of solar incidence. Solar is free so you just have to make it all big enough. Not sure there’s enough excess money in the world for that. Certainly not in Oz.

      • Heh, 127GW. Not disagreeing with you but trying to point out how big the problem is…With fossil fuels, the supply chain alone has more energy in it than that. There’s more coal and gas sitting in tanks by power plants waiting to be burned than that. And of course, there are verified sources constantly spitting out more to be burned.

        But even with all that, prices surge and drop because of wild [swings] in demand. And we’re not just talking about electrical generation. When people talk about low/no carbon economies they’re talking about EVERYTHING. Cement production, home heating that was done with oil/gas, industrial processes, TRANSPORTATION. You need a few months of energy stored up to have a stable system with renewables. That’s something like 30 terawatt hours of storage just for australia, about 500 terawatt hours for the US.

        LOL, and then of course we have one of the rallying cries of the people pushing wind/solar…local production. But because of the truly massive swings in production and the size of the storage…it turns out that the reality is nothing like “local” production. Indeed, having a local, central power plant is actually far more local than the truly massive, national (and international) grids necessary to move insane overproduction (sometimes 5X for wind) to regions with low to no production. The grid actually has to be capable of dealing with around 5X the power…and you absolutely MUST be connected to the grid in case of emergencies…like a hurricane punching through and destroying half the production in a densely populated state…since the grid is much quicker to replace than tens of thousands of of wind turbines/solar panels.

      • Bob, you listed one utility scale technology for storing electricity. Energy is easy to store, electricity is not. We can store the potential energy of water. You may not want to live below it because it might get loose and kill you.

        Technology is the problem, and it is also very expensive.

      • Pumped storage is also darn expensive.

        One of the largest is at Dinorwig, Wales. 2.5 gw for five hours. But the Enviros forced it to be built INSIDE a mountain, and so it turned into the most expensive power station ever built. An impressive cavern bigger than St Paul’s in London, yes, but darn expensive.

        Ralph

      • I like the idea of storing electrical energy by converting Al2O3 into Al and then combine Al with Fe2O3 (thermite) in a controlled reactor to recover the energy and convert the Al back to Al2O3 (and molten iron). Aluminum is a stable, non toxic fuel that can be safely stored in very large amounts without any fear of explosion (until you turn it into a powder for the reactor).

        This is very green as the production of AL releases copious amounts of CO2. AU has lots of Al2O3 and Sunlight, where Aluminum production cells can be driven directly from the low voltage DC generated by solar cells.

      • You guys remind me of a bunch of aeronautical engineers trying to explain to a bumblebee why it can’t fly. :-)

        Here’s a story about the New Milford Conn. pumped hydro plant which was built in 1930. As far as I can tell, it’s still in operation. So there’s your black swan, or flying bumblebee if you prefer.

        Anyway, my main point was:

        The problem isn’t the lack of technology, the problem is economics.

        Here’s a guy who takes a realistic view of what it would take to make pumped hydro handle all our storage needs. Let’s just say that it ain’t gonna happen.

      • You are dead on, Bob. The largest pumped storage station in the world is at Bath County in Virginia, at 3,000 MW of instantaneous generation and 25,000 MW hours of storage. There are other mountains in the same area, but due to the permitting issues I mentioned earlier, another one will not be built in that area.

    • Unless and until someone has utility-scale storage in service, renewables are not workable.

      Not even then. Not with low efficiency hydroelectric storage, where the exigencies of land and water use are un-visited in calculations. Not with high efficiency lithium batteries the size of skyscrapers. Not with coffee table perpetual motion, iced coffee fusion or margarita madness on Tuesdays.

      There is this thing called an ice storm… which stops and often destroys wind and solar infrastructure. It causes delays in resumption of operation. If many units are affected spares are simply not on hand. It is a child’s toy, funded and pushed by children. Wind and solar is the bright colored box on the lower shelf at the grocery store placed at toddler eye level.

      How will a few hours or even days of energy storage help?
      Taking base load electricity generation out of weather hardened buildings is crap engineering.

      If engineers entrusted to advise decision-makers get behind crap-solutions and do not advocate good ones (like nuclear) because they’re afraid to upset people, they’re not engineers. They’re bad politicians So says I to Trump in this letter, and I hope something can be done.

      • @HocusLocus, Well said.
        I am finding the stupidity all around me more and more annoying. There use to be a lot less of it, maybe it was better when we didn’t know who the stupid ones were because we couldn’t read their various stupid musings posted everywhere.
        Oddly, I feel slightly better, Thanks!

      • Well said, HocusLocus. Why don’t the idiots pushing this “renewable” crap just say “we’re just gonna shut the grid down and you’ll have to do without electricity.” At least that would be honest.

      • Well said HocusLocus. I live in SA and I am an engineer (an old one) and I am incredulous that there has not been 1 engineer in Govt who is prepared to denounce this madness. SA has had a socialist govt for a long time and it has fooled itself and the public that renewable is the way to go. This govt will now blame the fossil fuel generators for not filling in the shortfall, such is the Govt’s “we can do no wrong” arrogance.

      • I have the solution

        its called hemp or kenaf

        it does both energy generation and storage

        7 billion acres would be enough to meet the entire worlds energy needs, all of it, not just electricity

      • Hey george! Of course most money today does not exist as paper currency, but rather as ones and zeros stored in some computer. Still, the digital money could be used as a power source instead of burning currency. A sort of gravity engine, a numeric “water wheel” would work. The ones and zeros are sorted and then the ones are placed in pockets on one side of a wheel while the zeros are placed in pockets on the other. Ones being greater than the zeros, the resulting weight imbalance would…. Ah, never mind!

        :)

    • I’m convinced that the only practical solution for storage is pumping water, and that this solution is completely unfeasible at scale, due to the massive amount of land it would require and the environmental destruction that building so many reservoirs would entail.

      Note to Greg. If they had PLANNED the solution all the way through, there would be no wind turbines at all, because they would have had to get power and utility people involved. They would have understood in advance that wind turbines are a stupid solution that makes things worse, not better. I wish this had happened, and that the wind turbine baby had been smothered in its crib. But that would not have solved the problem of sanctimonious do-gooders needing to “do something.”

    • Interesting. Compare $14,000 / MW-hr to the operating costs for the Quad Cities nuclear plant at $26 / MW-hr (600x). By the way, Exelon was forced to announce the closure of Quad Cities because it cannot compete with (combined cycle) natural gas and (subsidized) wind power in northern Illinois.

      I bet Californians would like to see some green input to the grid at $23 / MW-hr. Not wait, they just decided to prematurely close Diablo.

      Where is Arsinio Hall when you need him (i.e., things that make you go ….. hmmmmmm)?

      • That plant closure is bad news for the Quad Cities themselves (on the Mississippi between Iowa and Illinois), because the other main power source is a coal plant.

        Downstream of a nuke plant and downwind of a coal plant, hmmmmmm? An enivronmentalist nightmare, except that the air and water there is a lot cleaner now than it was before the two power stations were built.

        When I was a kid taking flying lessons in the 60’s, you could always find the Moline Airport by following the dust plume from the Dewey Portland cement plant west of the airport. That plume has been gone for many decades.

    • i think i will fire up the portable generator and pump electricity into the grid and pretend its solar and make a killing

      • and pretend its solar

        I like it! Hey, even better maybe you can rent your generator out to the power company @$7/kWhr, split it with the power company 50/50, that’ll be a lot more than solar grid tie rates.

      • Well you need to burn natural gas to qualify as free clean green renewable solar so nyet on the Honda gig. Try using it as a door stop !

        g

      • Already been done in massive form by organized crime in Spain and even when you then check solar panels actually exist they were powering them up using diesel generated lights during the night when the feed in tariff is even higher for renewables because all the real solar energy producers are offline.

        I appreciate the cleverness of this scheme, lol

      • Set your generator in the sun. You won’t have to lie. Claim the energy comes from the increased vapour pressure in the gas tank due to solar heating.

      • George. But then my large propane powered Generac should qualify? Just kidding. But it did come on 4 or 5 times this week when the grid went down due to lightening and high winds. Fun in the country.

      • Something like this has actually happened, in Spain, due to the idiotic solar mandates there. Oh, I see this has already been mentioned. +1 Lbd

  2. If it goes anything like the UK, then their government will increase the amount of legislation that drives big industrial electricity consumers out of the country. That will give them a few more years of sailing close to the wind before the electorate starts to become seriously unimpressed.

    Much of the green damage is still ‘in the pipeline’, if you’ll pardon the incongruent metaphor.

  3. Ahh yes the drive from port Augusta to Adelaide reminds you of how much this state relies on the bird choppers . This state has been under control of greens and labour for just long enough for this mess to surface.
    No mention of the bird frying solar plant to be put in the spot of the just decommissioned coal fired power station at Augusta I notice .
    This should sort the greenies from the masses when south Aussies get their next power bill .

    • We should note that the people of SA voted and keep voting this green/labour alliance in so if they want sympathy tell them to look it up in the dictionary it’s somewhere between shit and syphallis.

      • The total South Australian Green party vote in the July 2 federal election was 6.1%. This was down 2.2% (or more than one quarter) from the election 3 years ago. Perhaps the people in South Australia are waking up to the green scam.

      • No, they voted 53/47 to chuck out the CFMEU Govt last time.

        The gerrymander plus the usual set of “conservative rural independents” ™ who contemplated deeply and then signed with the ALP put an end to the will of the people.

    • todays Tizer reports SA as having power cost DOUBLE for two years!!
      we are already one if not THE highest paying nations already.
      when we produce natgas and flog to china for 005c per whatever unit
      and WE mugs pay 80c a unit to run our supposedly cheap gas heat n vehicles?
      if this doesnt finally get the SA govt a boot in the ass and public protests forcing them to reassess the issue than they deserve to be screwed for their idiotic greenscammer support.
      extra insult is the push for dumbest ever idea “smart meters”
      not avoidable if you fall for the “cheap”solar pv deals, you install them you get the meter no options.
      how people on newstart living on 250 a week or less are expected to survive? god only knows.

    • How do knuckleheads get control? Because governments are too powerful and they distort the economy, science and education.

  4. I recently drove from Queensland, through NSW, to Adelaide in SA. Cold, but with recent rains it was all much greener than I remember.
    However, there were no birds to be seen in SA from the road. No raptors, and little else. I did see lots of wind turbines. I’d read about the US situation, but to see it here in Australia – devastating. And in NSW and Queensland there were lots of birds. Amazing sight – including seeing giant wedge tail eagles on the road slowly flapping there wings to get out of the road.
    I live in fear that the current Left wing Government in Queensland will introduce giant bird choppers where I live, not far from a string of sea-eagle nests in the local coal port. They want to prove how Green they are too.

    • Wind turbines (properly sited) at least have a more favourable availabilty factor than solar. That isn’t saying much though.

      What I wish could happen would be a free US and Canada fracked natural gas and oil market producing LNG and petroleum to deliver to our friends and trading partners like Aussies and UK to eliminate vulneravilities to OPEC.

      • we dontneed it mate
        we have our own good stores of nat lpg gas coal and oil on and offshore
        we also had utter morons in power back a way that allowed our refineries to be sold off and the land used for gross housing developments for local council profit on rate n taxes.
        we dont need to frack either
        stupid to risk artesian water on the driest continent on earth.
        we have normally available gas.
        hell we EXPORT majority to china dirt cheap! while we get ripped off with high at home costs

      • Wind turbines ARE solar. What did you imagine causes the air to move around from place to place ??

        G

      • Well oz pleeze keep those maroons on your side of the Tasman. But we will always welcome you on our side; just bring your rugger jersey, and leave your cricket bat behind.

        G

    • Recently I saw a Gosshawk on that road, half owl half hawk a brownish pink color like the underside of a field mushroom. The leading edge of its wings appeared straight not curved from body to tip, it landed as I passed it’s wings tucked awkwardly like a helmed warrior with two swords. There it was, this ultra rare bird not one mile from the meatgrinders on the hills stretching north south as far as the eye could see like a barbed wire fence in the sky. How I despise the Greens, so deeply with a passion threatening retribution.

  5. I worked in the energy supply industry in Europe where I have witnessed trouble balancing the grid not just in Germany but across many countries in NW Europe from both excessive supply of renewable energy flooding into the European power grid network or in contrast not enough supply of renewables, I have seen the grid in Belgium and the Netherlands either crash or cause huge strain when Germany dumps their excess wind power over the borders through interconnectors, this at the same time when these countries are also generating huge wind for their own grid. Then comes the inevitable call to shut down wind turbines across Europe to stabilise the network.

    I find it astonishing that SA thought it could go fully renewable supplied having seen the problems they have in Germany and Europe and who are world leaders on this technology. This also when they don’t have the infrastructure to control the spikes and dips in production and the technology is simply not there to store enough energy to smooth out these spikes, at least not in a cost effective way.

    There is no doubt that the combination of solar and wind by daylight hours can provide on many days a modest baseload power, the key being many days not all. As a Met I have observed that when it is sunny it is often not particularly windy and vice versa so solar and wind act to balance each other out to some extent. However, there are some days when it is cloudy and no wind and these particularly happen in winter when solar production is low and this always means you need to have back up power plants to fill the need.

    I personally would be spending most of climate change research money on cost effective power grid storage solutions. If this were successful many of the debates raging today would probably fade away.

    • The UKs 6,857 existing industrial wind turbines (potential capacity 14GW) often give ~ zero [as I write this they are giving less than 2 GW http://nationalgrid.stephenmorley.org/ (where’s the other 12GW ??) ].

      They only supply ~ 7% of demand annually (but it’s randomly& intermittently )…. And costs us £billions annually in subsidy’s paid to….mainly foreign developers.

      You can see the output of individual wind farms across Europe here – http://rwe-renewableslive.com/#/map/EU

      & this is the French grid – http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/

      More UK ‘Green Energy’ output & financial data from – http://www.variablepitch.co.uk/

    • It is not impossible someday someone will find a cheap energy storage solution which effectively makes intermittent renewables dispatchable, but that technology currently doesn’t exist.

      Personally I’d like any spare investment cash to be directed to nuclear fusion. I understand viable fusion might be as much of a chimera as cheap energy storage, but the payoff for a breakthrough seems far more attractive.

      • If there is one boondoggle worse than “renewables”, is is fusion. How long has fusion been the just a few decades away now?

        The sensible thing would be to keep burning fossil fuel as long as that is economical, and then fall back on existing (U235/Pu239 fission) or almost mature technology (Th232/U233 fission). The latter in particular is abundantly available, and the long-lived waste production is less severe than with U235/Pu239.

      • Utility storage has been well discussed here – http://euanmearns.com/is-large-scale-energy-storage-dead/
        The upshot is that a fundamental breakthrough in physic is required for more than a few hours to be catered for.

        Rather than fusion, I’d be directing investment into molten salt reactors that can burn up almost all actinides to greatly reduce radioactive waste – the designs which can also breed depleted uranium and/or thorium are particularly worth developing.

        Fusion? I think a fundamental breakthrough in physic is also required. The brute force approach doesn’t seem to be leading to a controllable, sustained burn and even if ITER works, the rebuild required after each run doesn’t bode well for viability.

      • Eric, there is currently a suitable green energy storage system in operation that works very well. Wind mills when operating allow for the reduction in generation by watermills. This means that the water that would have turned the water turbines is held back and stored. When the wind mills fail, as they do more often than not, the rapid reaction water mills take up the slack. This is classically shown by the Denmark/rest of Scandinavia situation. when danish windmills are over producing (rare) they pay Norway and Sweden to take the excess whist the Norwegians and Swedes reduce the output of their water mills, saving water. When the situation reverses (common) the Swedes and Norwegians charge the Danes like a wounded bull for electricity. the result, Danes have incredibly expensive electricity but the Norwegians and Swedes have merely expensive juice. Of course this situation can only prevail in limited areas of the world, and even less when “objectors” become involved, so it may not be suitable for all cases.

  6. Cold is the real definer of mankind and his adapted environs. It is of course mid-winter in Oz. Electricity costs for the pensioners will put more than a few in grave as they avoid turning on the heater.

    • Yes, it’s freezing in Oz, they might have to put on a sweater or a hat.

      It’s just sssooooo cold!

  7. Ha Ha Ha Ha HaHaHaHa. I’m laughing at the greens not the poor Aussies who are suffering because of this delusion.

    • You are laughing at the fixed-income pensioner who has no capacity to absorb higher electricity bills without cutting back on food.

      The Greens want the Pensioners to sell themselves to The Soylent Corporation for a brief reminder of what freedom from socialism once felt like before they are recycled.

  8. Wow, who could have foreseen that happening? Haven’t we been assured by the renewables lobby that they are perfectly capable of providing base load power?

    At least it should illustrate the folly of governments falling for this particularly insidious piece of prevarication, this steaming pile of unicorn $%*&. Yes, the wind is “always blowing somewhere”, but a fresh breeze in the Hebrides is of little value to those in Adelaide or Copenhagen.

    The SA Government may have got away with it this time by the skin of their teeth, but if the citizen voters should regularly experience sky-high bills and frequent outages, they will be called to account at the ballot box, and this will send a death shudder through the ranks of shiny-arsed lawmakers around the world.

    • It’s not true that the wind is always blowing “somewhere” even on a European scale. There exists an analysis of wind speed records across European airfields where “always” turns out to be 2% of the time!

    • The other problem with “the wind is always blowing somewhere” is even if it is blowing somewhere else, are there inter-connectors to get it to where it is needed? More importantly, is it in sufficient amounts to allow any surplus to move to where it is needed. If there isn’t surplus, are they obligated to give you some? Interesting problem there…

      • >>More importantly, is it in sufficient amounts to allow
        >>any surplus to move to where it is needed.

        Indeed. Said this a decade ago, and I was kicked off editing at Wiki for saying so – five times. I think it was that Colloney guy who booted me off (and all my sock-puppets).

        So I was right and Colloney was wrong, but he still ended up as the Wiki gatekeeper. How did that happen?

        Ralph

  9. Will the nutty green lovin South Australian finally enjoy the lights going out, will the they love choosing between gold price electricity or food on the table, will the green eyed politicians,bureaucrats and green monsters finally blink. Stay tuned, nutcases with green zeal never give up, Ala Gore!

  10. The reason people keep voting for them is because the schools show the Al Gore science fiction movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” to the kids. At age 18 they become voters.I have tried to get this stopped in Queensland but the Labor government resists, saying it is a decision made by teachers and parents and I should approach the school my children attend and discuss it with them. Of course I have no kids at school and what about the other 50 schools. I subsequently sent the following paper exposing 35 errors in the movie and the fact the High Court in London deemed the movie political indoctrination to 25 schools a week ago and have had no reply. google 35 Inconvenient truths. by Christopher Monckton.

  11. Australia’s rustbelt state, the backside of the world (vying with Tasmaina).
    Both states run by poorly educated misguided middle class psuedo-socialist idiots.
    Every state institution (parliament, judicial system, police, universities, state enterprises) is filled with incompetence and mediocrity.
    Pedophiles in the parliament and in state children services organizations.
    Even the large local private companies of Santos and Arrium managed to run themselves into the ground.
    Both states sliding into well deserved poverty and irrelevance.

    • That explains a lot about an encounter I had with a colleague of mine from SA. He caused me great stress in a work related incident.

    • I know they brought it on themselves, but Queensland where I live is doing its best to follow them down the path to ruin. I don’t want to have to vote with my feet again…

      • Eric, good article as usual. Re the quote “…prompted the state government to ask energy company ENGIE to switch its mothballed Pelican Point gas power station back on.”. If ENGIE is reluctant to power up the plant, the answer is simple – let the SA government exempt the ENGIE gas power station from having to buy stupidly overpriced ‘renewables’ and see them jump at the deal. IMO the way that the whole ‘renewables’ power scam is structured is cunning – it works by grossly distorting ‘renewable’ vs ‘fossil’ power prices at the wholesale level (which generally aren’t visible to retail customers), while minimising the effect on (visible) retail power prices, hiding the fact that ‘fossil’ generators are slowly but surely going bust. An alternative would be for the Turnbull government to require state governments to show both the retail and wholesale prices for both types of ‘energy’ on every customer’s bill, along with the subsidies paid and break-even wholesale price and profit margin of each. Then maybe the scam would be shown for what it is. Otherwise the base load generators will go broke and the greenies will claim that it was because they couldn’t compete with ‘renewables’!

      • We have a lot of coal seam gas power plants and a lot of new power lines in south west queensland ,all built over the last few years. I suspect someone in the know expects a major need of reliable power soon.

      • My Rels all live in Malbin, so they ain’t the sauce of the problem y’alls have there on the crusty side of the pizza.

        g

      • Eric, I have been following the performance of the S. Eastern Aust. wind turbines for several months and have made some comments on Jo Nova’s website.
        My point is looking at the wind patterns around Aust. you will find that the windiest coastline is S. Aust. and Victoria due to the prevailing alternating low and high pressure systems. But looking at the Qld. coastline I just haven’t seen very much wind. You need about 12-14 m/sec winds for the turbines to produce much electricity. Technically the government thought bubble of 50% renewable is just that and not feasible.

  12. http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/6039135e43be3446576288d846f8163c?width=650
    The leftist South Australian government is blaming ‘market failure’ and the fact that a power interconnector from fossil-fuelled Victoria was unable to supply base-load power due to bad weather — otherwise renewable energy works well, when it’s not needed.
    A spokesman said the government is “… also hopeful of a breakthrough in battery storage technology, which would allow for homes to store solar energy or the slow release of wind power into the grid as needed …” or nuclear fusion or maybe perpetual motion.

    • Yes yes the “breakthrough” they’re “hopeful of.”

      One question: Why didn’t they build all the windmills AFTER this key piece of technology was invented? Once there’s cost effective storage, go nuts. Build wind, close your gas and coal. But why on earth would they cause this mess and then hope something comes along?

    • I think they will invent perpetual motion, before inventing a battery that can power an entire city for a week. How donthese dreamers and fantasists get into power? Who votes for them? Are the general public really that thick?

      R

      • Are the general public really that thick?

        Seems if you’re slick enough, yeah.

        How many did anything in any of their science classes that they could still do?

    • The leftist South Australian government is blaming ‘market failure’ and the fact that a power interconnector from fossil-fuelled Victoria was unable to supply base-load power due to bad weather

      Why not Trotskyites and wreckers?

  13. Yep they will blame everything even climate change for their power woes not their own mismanagement and ideology . Another self inflicted green flop .
    And don’t ask what happened to the multi million wave generator while it was being towed to it’s SA resting place .

  14. It is difficult to feel any sympathy for those affected by these problems, after all the electorate voted for it. The long term consequences are quite obvious, loss of economic wealth as industry relocates. As the jobs go so government tax revenue will decline which must lead to decay of the social infrastructure and falling living standards. This outcome is in line with the suicidal attitudes towards their own interests now common amongst many westerners. This stupidity has history, as Charles Mackay noted in his book, ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.’

    • The loss of wealth in the first world is the whole point of this. Why does anybody think that somehow reason and logic will prevail? Impoverishment of the West is the whole purpose here. Just go reread the quotes from Strong, Figueres, Edenhofer and the rest. They make no pretence that this is about anything else, least of all about the environment or even CO2/CAGW.

      • Maurice Strong is dead though. Save through thought transference I don’t think that really explains the antics of these SA politicians. (And I doubt that they can flee to China when it gets really hairy the way Mr. Strong did.)

  15. I just hope our new cash strapped federal government does not leak cash to the South Australian government
    Second if the said above .Feds intervene
    To help the battling SA steel maker Arrium I hope they adjust the help package do it does not include the penalty electricity cost imposed
    By the SA government which should pick up that tab
    Lastly I hope some one in the Victorian
    Government places this information in
    front of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews
    because he has been talikg about Victoria going down the renewables route

  16. 1. What happens with the excess power when there is too much power production by wind and solar during parts of the day?
    (I understand that when renewables may deliver to the grid anytime, the in the same time produced base load energy has to be destroyed some way – which way?)

    2. If 100% of the power would be produced by wind and solar, what would be the price for the average kWh when all the fluctuations should have to be smoothed by batteries?
    (I guess all ‘green is good’ consumers don’t want to think about their electricity bills in that case, but so far I nowhere read such a number)

    3. What is exactly the price for the consumer for one kWh for respectively coal, wind and solar ALL COSTS AND SUBSIDIES INCLUDED?
    (I know that price is different in different countries, a table would help. Also for politicians who can easily see what they are offering to their voters)

    • That would never work. You’re not going to get an impartial ‘table’. What you will get is a huge argument over what exactly a ‘subsidy’ is (I’ve seen work where groups proclaim that asphalt road repair is a ‘subsidy’ for the oil & gas industry).

    • Wim

      There is no excess power. Power companies only produce enough electricity to meet the demand. Power companies should always have reserve capacity.

      “One of Pelican Point’s two gas turbines hasn’t operated since April and …..”

      So it is normal for power plants to be shut down during periods of low demand. It is a simple matter to shut down wind and solar if the power is not needed.

      http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx

      There is a misconception that wind and solar has lower environmental impact than even coal. This not true. ‘Green’ consumers all have one thing in common. The hardest college class they have taken is basket weaving. Who took environmental engineering classes with me? Engineers who work at nuke plants, coal plants, sewage plants, pulp mills, ect!

      Batteries are as far from ‘green’ as you can get. Why would want store electricity in batteries?

      Think of it this way! Spent nuclear fuel requires a storage area per life of each nuke plant the size of a tennis court. Coal ash generates a good size hill of a few acres.

      Wim what is your plan for a billion large batteries generated per year?

      Some perspective here. I have measured the charging rate of my new $200 motor home batteries at about 300 watt. This takes care of small loads like LED lights. If we want to use the microwave, toaster, or air conditioner; we have to start the 7kw generator.

      Storage capacity to replace a 1000 MWe coal or nuke plant would require a billion 50 pound batteries.

      The generating cost of a fully amortized coal or nuke plant in the US is 2-5 cents per kwh in the US. This includes taxes. Coal and nukes are not subsidized in the US. Natural gas plants depend on the delivered price of natural gas. Many places in the US, natural gas is competitive with coal and nuclear.

      Wind and solar does not work so cost irrelevant. You still need coal, nukes, and gas
      Power plants. Since wind and solar produces electricity some of the time, it can lower the fuel costs of gas fired plants.

      In summary from the perspective of being responsible for providing electricity to customers, wind and solar is never a good idea. How bad of an idea, remains to be seen.

      • Retired Kit P, thanks for your information. As I thought – but nowhere read –, it is impossible to smooth fluctuations of wind and solar with batteries. A billion 50 pound batteries to replace a 1000 MWe coal or nuke plant is an impossible solution.

        Gas and nuke electricity production you can fast ‘switch off’, but you need to keep going the coal fire day and night as I understood. So the most bad solution would be the combination of solar and wind with coal. To stabilize the grid you need gas and nuke.

        When you don’t want to rely fully on gas and uranium, a thorium molten salt reactor seems to be the right solution for those who are afraid of CO2. Safe, reliable, flexible. But I myself I love the greening of the world and the rise of crops by CO2 and so far I can nowhere find a proof for a future dangerous warming. So a clean way of using carbon is OK for me. Reliable, cheap, available. And to fill in the gaps: gas and thorium?

  17. While I do feel sorry for the elderly , maybe some rolling blackouts in SA might just tip the scales and force the real story out into the open .
    As we know SA is not the only place in the world to put all their energy generation into the renewable basket only to find out if the wind stops blowing and the sun don’t shine your up shit creek .

    • How do you like your headlines tailored?

      “TonyfromOz
      July 15, 2016 at 4:29 pm · Reply

      Analitik mentions this:

      Wind energy supplied 83% of South Australia’s electricity on Monday
      Wind energy hits 100% of South Australia demand on Sunday

      I’ll bet you’ll never see this Headline in any South Australian media:

      Wind power only supplies ONE percent of South Australia’s power consumption for two days

      From 9AM Thursday 7th July to 9PM Friday 8th July, wind power averaged under 20MW total output for those 36 consecutive hours, covering two complete working days, and not just a weekend Sunday, when consumption is lower.

      So then, you tell me that without fossil fuel backup, just which 99% of South Australia gets blacked out.

      Tony.”

      http://joannenova.com.au/2016/07/the-rise-of-the-skeptics-brexit-shifts-the-ground-boris-promoted-decc-gone/

      • Yes another Ian the headlines are just stupid and the media buy into this trash .. South Australia still doesn’t even reach 33% renewable power production and has it’s network on a knife edge.

        So if you are going to headline 100% and 83% you should headline the reverse as those numbers are a long way from the average so there must be lots of days well below average and that should be concerning and equally newsworthy.

        The reality is the media should just report the average which is the actual being consistently met but that doesn’t stroke the ego’s of the green groups in the media. One has to push the propaganda and bias out at all cost.

    • we used to have rolling blackouts when i was a kid in SA summer and winter, until we sorted the unions and the extra powergen got built.
      it worked well until the warmist bullshit got so many of the under 50s mindwiped and stupid, feeling “guilty”
      for paying high prices already
      they wanted it higher to assuage their green guilt tripping
      the young especially living at home sponging off parents for accommodation water power charges etc are all soooo happy to vote greentards in
      well mum n dad are losing their jobs
      and the kids might finally be forced to move out n grow up.
      bit late

  18. GOOD!

    It’s only by metaphorically ‘slapping someone in the face’ (with facts) that the excesses and idiocies of ‘green energy’ will be exposed for the scam that it is.

    There is (was) much talk of a ‘tipping point’ – but they got the wrong subject. It wasn’t reference to the climate but a reference to the economy.

  19. The new UK government has just done some re-organising. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been abolished and its activities subsumed into a new department. ‘Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’. Hopefully this implies that energy policy will now be driven to meet the real needs of business and industry, rather than tackling illusory climate change.

    In spite of the fact that we have recently seen steel plants in the UK closing down because of the high cost of energy to industrial users, the Greens are having a tantrum about the name change.

  20. If I was Engie I would have asked for millions to restart and the same to ramp down the power station ,make the state govt pay through the nose for their ideological mess .

    • oh the powercos are doubly bit
      they have to pay credit to consumers if the powers off 12hr or more
      Kangarooisland just got power back today since tues.. the min payment was 100…and rising each 12h unit..going to cost them a LOT
      which of course they will promptly rise costs to recoup from all

  21. Australia is currently struggling with an ongoing trend for heavy industry to translocate business operations to other countries in Asia, countries which provide stable regulatory environments and costs, lower taxes, cheaper wages, and less red tape.”
    This of course is the intent of the UN and all the COp21 agreements. Kill the industrial nations by making them destroy their industrial base while at the same time having them pay reparations (for imaginary damage) to the very countries that are taking their industry. The green politicians seem unable to grasp this scam and are doubling down.
    If, as several different forecasts – using disparate methods – are correct and world temperatures start dropping, things will become disastrous for some countries. One would hope for a level of accountability for both the ‘scientific’ advice and political decisions, but it seems unlikely.

    • Grid scale batteries to store the excess. W0w! Now how about some numbers that reveal how much excess is normally produced. If the excess isn’t equal or greater than the deficit it ain’t a solution. It’s a can kick down the road. And this well intentioned road heads right to hell.

    • thats about 500 homes for 1 day or 250 for 2 or 125 for 4 , totally useless if the wind dont blow

    • jono1066. Look before you leap.
      Grid scale batteries sound like a great idea, it will make lots of money for the batteries make manufacturer and ding the consumers who will pay through the nose.

      Here is the real problem with these battery arrays big and small the HIGH cost of replacing degrading battery packs down the road

      Battery-testing firm Cadex Electronics.

      The problem of longevity. Lithium-ion and even newer lithium-polymer batteries have a nasty habit of losing capacity over time or, worse, dying altogether.

      Any battery issue is by definition a chemistry problem. In a healthy battery, ions flow freely between a cathode and an anode. Charging a battery forces ions from the cathode to the anode; using the battery reverses the flow.

      Over time, this process wears out the cathode, which results in reduced capacity. A high-end lithium-polymer battery can lose about 20 percent of its capacity after 1000 charge cycles. Another way to think of this is to imagine that every time you recharge your laptop, you shave a few seconds off its maximum battery life. Erratic charging and heat speed up this degradation.

      And batteries degrade even if you don’t use them. According to battery-testing firm Cadex Electronics, a fully charged lithium-ion battery will lose about 20 percent of its capacity after a year of typical storage. followed by further annual capacity loss.

      • I am surprised that a type of battery that is cheap, has a low rate of deterioration – life in excess of 20 years is common – is resilient enough to stand overcharge, standing discharged and short circuits, not to mention being constructed from cheap, environmentally friendly materials – the nickel-iron battery – appears to have been completely overlooked.

        Any drawbacks it has I’m sure could be greatly ameliorated if even a tenth of the money was spent on its development as has been spent on the fragile, problematical lithium batteries.

  22. I didnt realise how brilliant the uk was in terms of stored energy. the attached link to the uk map showing installed and under construction energy storage systems, some are big enough to boil a few litres of water…. some are even bigger in a small sort of way but I guess its limited by the amount of lead (Pb) they can get

    • My caravan has 600 watt solar a 3000 watt inverter and runs 4 x110 amp gel cel batteries , almost as much as a small pommie town .

      • Robert: Taking into account the capex for such a system, it’s on-going maintenance costs (batteries etc), what do you calculate the cost per kWhr for your caravan? (Don’t tell us that your power is ‘free’.)

      • Robert just set off my BS meter. So what did cost? How does it work? Had any fires lately?

        My $88, 800 watt, Harbor Freight generator works great for charging batteries in motorhome. Just skipped hauling around overpriced solar PV. Sure I have seen them on camping rigs but no one can tell me how well they work without setting off my BS meter.

        Most folks are totally ignorant of how electrical things work.

  23. In case it hasn’t been mentioned: Follow the money. Someone somewhere is making a mint out of this. Nothing to do with being Green or saving the planet.

    • Harry it’s expensive but ok for a van if you want to save on park fees , won’t run the aircon for long but everything else seems to work ok .
      I would estimate I saved money in the long run when going round the block not having to stay in caravan parks .
      Would this be the way of the future for households I doubt it , there is no such thing as free energy somewhere somehow the piper has to paid .

    • Greed is a constant in human life, while this variety (and extent) of madness in the modern world is something new. (Although we’ve seen things like this in the past, e.g. the European witch craze – or do you think that that was all about money?)

    • Retired kit p
      Your bs meter must be set too high , cost of panels ,inverter ,batteries , wires and controller just under two grand . Install was done by me , while I was enjoying 240 quiet volts and having to listen to idiots with their Generators going made me realise a thing or two about your sort .
      I am no greenie and don’t give a crap how much Co2 gets up there , it was simply a set up to save on caravan parks because we had 240 / 98% of the time and used it for basically everything the van had and we bought along except aircon.
      In case your wondering about the 98% , batteries started going flat in the middle of the night half way round WA coast , turned out one battery was Suss but after replacing it system was ok again .
      But this stuffs not really for this site .

      • I checked my BS meter is calibrated just fine. First when someone spends ‘just under two grand’ to save money and I accoplished the same thing I did for $100, my BS meter goes off. Second, ‘240 quiet volts’ is major BS. Power not voltage is the concern.

        Clueless!

        Since retiring from the power industry, we have been full time living in a 20 year old 32 foot motorhome. We rerarely stay in RV parks. Too many people, too noisey. We also have a 35 year old sail boat that is big enough to live aboard. Did that many years ago but government does not allow it in our current location. Love the quiet of sailing and the sound of camping near the ocean or mountain stream.

        The point is that I have lots of experience with batteries. The first rule is to always have enough reserve capacity to start and internal combustion engine. My small generator is pull start.

        The second rule is know how much power your partially discharged batteries will draw when charging. Mine take 200-300 watts. So 600 watt PV panels are hauling around expensive dead weight.

        The third rule is to reduce the load on the batteries when dry camping (aks, boondocking). I have replace the TV with 12 V LED model that draws 30 watts (28 watts measured). Also put in some 1 watt LED lights. Our 800 watt inverter is a parasitic load just sitting idle. It is nice to have 120 Vac but we try to keep the loads at 100 watts less heats up and starts the cooling fan.

        The fourth rule is that battery voltage drops with load. If voltage drops the protective circuit on the inverter will trip. When using my inverter and hot plate on the boat to make coffee when anchored out, I have to start the engine so that the alternator can maintain voltage.

        Finally there is gel batteries? Did you research them or do you like spending money for dubious performance claims that you do not need anyway.

        And of course, the real problem with solar. It does not work! Last week were were dry camping in the Blue Mountains. We were camped beside a beutiful stream but it rained for three days. We stayed inside and watched old movies. As a result I had to run the small generator two hours a day. At one point my wife asked if I had turned it off. Between the TV and rushing water, you could not hear the generator.

        Once again, PV to save money is BS.

  24. So where is Roger Sowell or the usual suspect tr@lls to tell us how wind is saving the aussies from no elec., or how it’s really cost competitive (when you only consider the cost they choose to consider), blah blah. This story is the real effect of renewables, and (to coin a phrase), “it’s worse than we thought!”

  25. Great to see someone highlighting S.A.’s energy predicament. Too many South Australian’s are asleep politically, and cannot fathom the extent to which green policy will ultimately destroy our economy (if we are not already there). Hoping recent electricity fails, and this post will wake up a few more zombies. I live in SA and am not a supporter of our incompetent, lying, parasitic politicians. From 2005 to 2013 our electricity rates increased more than 90%. Yep, nearly double. https://eyesonbrowne.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/why-we-have-to-pay-so-much-for-electricity/. So thanks for posting.

    Ps. SA is a great place to live, as long as you don’t need lights, or heating, or cooking, or money or……..

  26. Ontario was consuming 16GW at 7am this morning. The heavily subsidized solar plants were producing 0.002GW. The heavily subsidized wind plants were producing 0.9GW.

  27. Many many years ago I discovered the very best view of south Australia. It was in the rear view mirror of my car as I was driving away.

  28. Trailing facts and details like this are why promoters and their legislative friends need to stay on the move and out of harms way when the bill arrives.

  29. Californian’s get ready. When Diablo Canyon shuts down the prices in the article will seem like a bargain. What industry or power intensive service will stay in CA?

  30. Hang on a second. What is the average price, and how long was the price $14,000 per MWh? If we are to have a sensible discussion on the issue, there needs to be a lot more information that just what the peak figure was. The article presented doesn’t even pretend to actually look at the issue, and instead simply states a peak price, and leaves it at that. Is that real skepticism?

    • BZ Phil. While infrequent, power prices go through the roof and it nothing to do with wind. The grid operator is looking for large user to drop load. Being paid to dumping product on the ground is smart if a rolling blackout is coming soon.

      Eric has an agenda, not an understanding of the grid.

      • Please read my comment below on market bidding, Kit. If you can expand on it, that would be great.

        Eric is being misleading by not painting the full picture in the headline but the fundamental fact is that pricing spikes are much more common now than pre wind farms and PV

  31. This is called testing the consumer. If the consumer complains about $14/kWh electricity then you lower the price to $0.60/kWh as a responsible operator and quietly collect your money and laugh to yourself that you’re getting three times the average price for electricity and the consumers are once again happy. The companies getting $0.20/kWh are also laughing because they used to make money at $0.08/kWh and the consumer has long forgotten those prices. Plus you place a value added tax (VAT or HST) onto electricity and the government is happy/laughing knowing that, with a percentage tax, as prices rise so does their revenue. And people think their governments are stupid. It’s the other way around folks.

    • No, the problem is that the renewables bypass the “day ahead” market bids placed by the “normal” electricity sources so it doesn’t pay for all the based load generators to run because their output may not be needed or may need to be paid for it’s generation (since viable storage for the quantities we are talking about do not exist in Sth Aust).

      What ends up happening is that enough baseload generators bid in for around the AVERAGE of the wind farms’ output for the times of day and if the wind output is less than this, then peaking plants start coming on-line. Naturally, the peaking plants are not as efficient to run (mainly as consequence of their fast start and ramping ability but also because they are not continuously operated) so their bid price is higher. At the very high end are small peaking plants built for very occasional use so they have a very high bid price to cover the fact that they are (normally) rarely used.

      The A$14,000 MWh rate is the highest bid price allowed by the national authority so the government actually caps the price below what it could be for pure market rates

      You need to read how electricity markets actually work – the system was designed for competitive but profitable operations to meet varying demand without gaming the price (which is still possible if enough generators get together but they get investigated and fined). The renewables are distorting the market by their ability to barge in whenever they are producing and get paid fixed rates that bear no relation to market pricing, This leads to massive unplanned and sudden variations in the requirement for normal generation making the overall market more volatile and to hedge against this, most generators also have to increase their bid prices.

      • @Analitik

        In general, your observations are pretty good. Power company executives think 10-60 years into the future and like to err on the side of excess capacity. Regulated and deregulated (still highly regulated as to profits) both work well if properly designed.

        For every major grid problem in the US in the last 30 years, I will show you a neighboring grid and group of utilities that avoided the problem by educating regulators and politicians for the reasons for spending the money to ensure reliability.

        It is too late after the ice storm, hurricane, tornado, forest fire, ect; to stock the warehouse, clear the right of way, train linemen and so on.

        The problem is not renewable energy it is bad management. One good management practice is to trade a small renewable requirement for a big unpopular power plant. When a new coal/nuke plants is needed, have a few pictures of PV panels or wind turbines with a dairy cow next to it. 60 years later the coal/nuke plant will still serving customers.

  32. The favoritism necessary to expand renewables to the scale necessary to be a majority source makes it too costly for the established and reliable energy production methods to be sustainable. In short, robust renewable subsidies ensure the need for subsidy for all sources. Cost upon cost for less effectiveness and less efficiency. Ensuring the need for more government. To a watermelon, it looks so very, [horribly] sustainable.

  33. At yet another tragedy has befallen France, this time on the most revered national holiday the 14th of July, our sympathy is with the people of the beautiful and cosmopolitan city of Nice.

  34. Trump could make the US the #1 destination for business by utilizing all of our fossil fuels, hydro, nuclear, forests, slashing regulations (get rid of quotas, throttle the EPA) and utilizing our abundant cheap labor sitting on welfare.

    • Trump could make the US the #1 destination for business by utilizing all of our fossil fuels, hydro, nuclear, forests, slashing regulations (get rid of quotas, throttle the EPA) and utilizing our abundant cheap labor sitting on welfare.

      If you listen to him, he’s got something in mind to get the economy running again, probably a lot of the above will be included.

      • Reducing corporate taxes will also bring a lot of busineeses and jobs into the U.S. The U.S. currently has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Companies go to countries that have the lowest taxes in the world, so the U.S. has to compete for that business by offering competitive tax rates.

  35. Please use this example and help me to make the case that most Aussies aren’t stupid.

    • Maybe not, but enough of them that vote are. Same here in Canada, in Alberta and Ontario in particular.

  36. The greenest energy will have are oil, gas and coal. Who is going to pay to take down all the windmills after they fall into maintenance disrepair.

    [The usual things that stop all perpetual motion machines in the real world outside of academia and the political mythology: Greed, envy, jealousy, entropy, rust, gravity, corrosion, friction, resistance, lube oil contamination. Permanent monuments to a liberal mindset. .mod]

    • The greenest energy will have are oil, gas and coal. Who is going to pay to take down all the windmills after they fall into maintenance disrepair.

      What do they call all of those people in those MadMax movies?
      Morlock, doesn’t seem appropriate.

  37. Coulee:
    Chiefly Western U.S. and Western Canada. a deep ravine or gulch, usually dry, that has been formed by running water.

    In this case it is not dry it contained a river.

  38. Surely there must be a planet someplace, in a galaxy far, far away, where Unaffordable Unreliables make sense. Perhaps the planet Wonderlanus would be a good candidate.

    • “Surely there must be a planet someplace, in a galaxy far, far away, where Unaffordable Unreliables make sense.”

      Bizarro World.

  39. I’d demand an iron clad, multi-year contract before agreeing to take that plant out of mothballs.

  40. “you would need to cover the SF peninsula with Wind and solar farms from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way down to an imaginary line from Palo Alto to the coast and from the coast to the bay.”

    Bad example Bryan. Fog dominates that area. There is also a rule against siting wind farms where anti-nukes live. It is a not in my backyard thing

  41. >> run the plant for a short period.

    There are no short periods in power generation. If the government want to keep this gas plant on standby, they are going to have to pay a hefty retainer to keep it open. So we end up paying triple the cost for the wind power, and then you have to pay once again to keep the gas plant on standby. So quadruple the cost overall.

    And all this because the BBC, amongst others, failed to adequately research and question the wind lobby. In several interviews, more than a decade ago, the wind lobby repeatedly said ‘the wind always blows’. And not once did the BBC debate or question this vital issue. Had they done so, they could have squashed the wind bandwagon before it even got rolling. But now, a trillion dollars later, they are just beginning to see their error.

    (And yes, I did see the error more than a decade ago, and wrote a lengthy article about it, which was published in a magazine in 2004. It was eventually published in WUWT in 2007, I think.)

    Ralph

  42. The listed cost of $14,000 per MWh is $14 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). By comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Electric Power Monthly lists the U.S.cost per kWh for all sectors (commercial, industrial, and transportation) at about 10 cents per kWh (1/140 of $14 per kWh). According to the EIA, renewable energy accounted for about 13% of the total in 2015.

    Facts reveal that all renewable energy receives substantial government subsidy, and does not compete with coal, gas, etc. Moreover, sound science reveals that human activities are not measurably contributing to global temperature.

  43. The savings from hydroelectric storage come from not having to build and maintain new power plants or upgrade existing ones for additional capacity which is only needed to produce power at peak times. Los Angeles Dept. Of Water & Power has such a facility.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castaic_Power_Plant

    Water is pumped uphill at night when usage is low and released during peak usage times.

    Though only 80% efficient it saves billions of dollars that would have to be spent otherwise to produce the capacity during peak usage times.

  44. Is having to switch on a backup generator briefly, and having a temporary spike in prices while a power link was repaired, that large energy consumers were warned about in advance, really a omg the sky is falling event?

    I think some people are struggling a bit hard to find evidence of the renewable energy apocalypse. At least this article doesn’t contain the outright rubbish claims the article about Tasmania had. On that occasion it was obvious that the author hadn’t even bothered to do some basic googling on the issue, as it only took me a few minutes to find that most of what was presented was wrong.

  45. Northfield Mountain in Massachusetts is a pumped storage system with 12,000 acre-feet of water with a 900 foot head. The generators can put out 1 GW or I guess draw about as much in pumped mode at a 75-80% overall efficiency.

    I had a tour there once when the power source was the excess nighttime power from the Yankee Rowe Atomic plant and various hydro plants. Now it’s just hydro.

    http://www.yankeerowe.com/
    http://www.northfieldrelicensing.com/Pages/Northfield.aspx

  46. “Complaints from business about the extreme prices – in normal times they are below $100 – prompted the state government to ask energy company ENGIE to switch its mothballed Pelican Point gas power station back on.”

    Fiirstly I think the reporter has their wires crossed as Pelican Point is a modern gas fired cogen plant providing 25% of SA power-
    http://www.gdfsuezau.com/about-us/asset/Pelican-Point-Power-Station
    So I suspect the Govt really asked ENGIE to cut in one or more of their gas peaking plants-
    http://www.gdfsuezau.com/about-us/asset/Synergen-Peaking-Units
    which are usually called up for a few weeks of the year with peak summer airconditioner loads in heat waves, bearing in mind Victoria cops the same weather as South Australia within a day as large high pressure cells move across the southern part of the continent from west to east pouring inland desert heat toward the cities of Adelaide and Melbourne.

    Bear in mind it’s that summer peak load that requires an overbuild of generating and distribution capacity to the tune of 25% for SA and Victoria at least, but nevertheless you wouldn’t want to fire up those plants for just a day or so. Astronomical day spikes are a worry but more importantly is the overall trend in power prices-
    http://www.wattclarity.com.au/2016/06/exceptional-pricing-during-q2-hurting-major-energy-users/
    and ignoring the newsvertisement dribble for the ‘Big Switch’ you can see how the renewable energy chickens are coming home to roost for Australians now-
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/big-energy-switch-campaign-to-help-save-aussies-on-their-power-bills-as-some-could-be-hit-with-an-extra-240-a-year/news-story/81e97085194064ad2d8b6f9caaaeac3e
    These air-headed, emotional watermelons are about to get a sound lesson in rational science, engineering and economics and already the State Treasurer is running about like a headless chook blaming a lack of competitive supply and a lack of interconnection throughput to the other states ( ostensibly so they can share the pain of his pet wind power would you believe?)

    It’s like this Treasurer. The entire history of mankind’s ability to store energy is pitiful, except for pumping water uphill and in the form of calories and in case you haven’t noticed Tom, we live in the driest State in the driest continent but I don’t want to be too classist here but perhaps operating a pedicab for a week or two might cure you-
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-28/premier-says-attack-on-treasurer-was-27borderline-racist27/5351546

  47. Here’s typical Tom before his power shock epiphany-

    http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/Home/Full_newsevents_listing/News_Events_Listing/151201-investment-jobs-low-carbon-future

    ‘Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the State Government is aiming for $10 billion of investment in low carbon energy generation by 2025 and 50 per cent of electricity production to be generated by renewable energy by 2025.

    “We are already well on our way towards achieving this goal,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

    “We have worked decisively to set a clear policy and a regulatory environment to inform investment, and we’ve achieved a $6.6 billion investment in renewable energy thus far, of which 40 per cent is in regional areas.

    “We’re now leading by example by using our energy procurement to support innovative proposals that will deliver reliable and affordable low carbon electricity to meet up to 100 per cent of the State Government’s electricity usage.”‘

    and here’s the headless chook after he runs out of power for the punters (via Michael Edge, The Australian July 16 2016)-

    ‘South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, who is also the Energy Minister, yesterday put the eastern states on notice, vowing to “smash the national electricity market into a thousand pieces and start again”.

    He warned other states that the energy crisis was “coming to get them”.

    “This is coming to Victoria, this is coming to NSW … every jurisdiction is facing what we’re facing now,” the Treasurer said.

    South Australian Labor’s ­admission that it needed urgent reform of the national energy market rules, so that in addition to upgrading connection with Victoria it also could tap into NSW baseload power, reveals the vulnerability of its reliance on ­renewables. The last coal-fired power stations in South Australia closed in May.

    Wind and solar make up more than 40 per cent of the state’s ­energy mix under a green policy agenda driven by Labor, in power in South Australia since 2002.

    Several major companies, ­including BHP Billiton and Arrium, this week warned Mr Koutsantonis of possible shutdowns because of high energy prices, forcing him to plead for a temporary power spike from a private owner of a mothballed gas-fired power plant. Private energy supplier ENGIE fired up its Pelican Point plant near Port Adelaide for a short time yesterday, bringing an extra 239 megawatts of power into the grid.

    Mr Koutsantonis said the federal government had encouraged South Australia, which has the best conditions for wind farms, to chase the energy source as part of Australia’s renewable energy target of about 24 per cent by 2020.

    “Wind is paid by the commonwealth to produce power … if you are going to pay wind farms to produce electricity regardless of demand, you better make sure that is distributed equally across the country because you can’t have a national policy implicating just one state,” he said.

    He called on Malcolm Turnbull to immediately appoint an energy minister and schedule an urgent meeting of federal and state ministers to undertake ­energy market reform.

    “If you want a true national electricity market, you really need to have all of the states interconnected.

    “What we have is a series of state-based markets with very poor interconnection between them,’’ Mr Koutsantonis said.’

    Suddenly Tom wants to share all his cutting edge, State renewable power around ;)

    • When I read about SA wanting to solve their problem with new interconnects, between regions, it seems pretty obvious he does really understand how much power you lose over a thousand miles of wire.
      I can’t wait for superconducting power wires, but we don’t have them. And the more peak power, the worse it is, and that’s the intended purpose, the amount of stupidity in charge of tgings, is getting dangerous. Maybe that’s what happened to Rome, death by stupid people using leverage to get corruptible government jobs, and everyone drive it into the ditch.

      • You need to understand we already have an interconnector to Victoria’s brown coal fired backup power in the Latrobe valley-
        https://stopthesethings.com/2016/06/05/south-australias-wind-power-chaos-victorias-coal-fired-plant-its-only-salvation/
        but that has to have the capacity to deliver that backup power when the wind don’t blow with all our wind generation capacity-
        http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/widespread-power-blackout-hits-adelaide/news-story/f43beca5199964b6d9666ca16c58ea03
        What Tom in a tiz wants now is much larger interconnector capacity so all his pet windmills can feed power into the national grid and enjoy the benefit of plundering peak power prices, while at the same time having access to Victorian brown coal backup. Furthermore he’s effectively calling for the other States and the Feds to cover the cost of that interconnection so their consumers can help subsidise the true cost of wind power that is now becoming self evident. Notice how he was happy to privatise the political gain initially (Green bragging rights), but now wants to socialise the inevitable losses any undergrad power engineer could tell him was coming his way.

      • Well, it all comes down to whether or not you believe we need to move to more renewable energy. If we do, then the system needs to make sure that cost burden is spread evenly. State borders shouldn’t have anything to do with it. If one state is better for wind than another, then build the wind turbines where they work best. The grid needs to be planned and managed, but these aren’t impossible problems, just things that need to be done.

  48. The shorter Tom- We’ll grab the Green cream off the top while you carboniferous trogs supply all the yucky milk and howsabout some more equipment to effect that?

  49. Awareness that there are several factors involved here, and a somewhat less triumphalist response by some commentators is probably advisable if more than just “preaching to the choir” is intended.

    While the variability of ‘renewables’ was a relevant factor here, cost per unit variations of this sort and occasional ‘utterly immense’ price peaks are ‘common enough’ in systems which do not include solar or wind energy sources. A long used ‘renewable’ is hydroelectric energy generation which is subject to much longer longer term fluctuations (months to years) in energy availability. When this is combined with sudden load and energy availability variations it can (and does) lead to cost variations of the order mentioned here.

    • I have observed the same effect. A large plant trips or a transmission line is lost and power prices spike. It takes a day or so to bring a more efficiency steam plant on line. Power prices return to normal.

      However, it the loss of generating capacity is caused by weather condition that increases demand concurrently, it constitutes an emergency.

  50. Update from The Australian July 20 by Michael Owen headed-

    “Business blows up as turbines suck more power than they generate”

    the money quote-

    “An analysis of data from the Australian Energy Market Operator, responsible for the administration and operation of the wholesale NEM, shows the turbines’ down time on July 7 coincided with NEM prices for South Australia reaching almost $14,000 per MWh

    NEM prices in other markets have been as low as $40 per MWh with the AI Group estimating this month’s power surge in South Australian electricity prices had cost $155 million.

    While all wind farms in South Australia were producing about 5780MW between 6am and 7am, by 1pm the energy generation was in deficit as the turbines consumed more power than they created. By mid-afternoon, energy generation by all wind farms was minus-50MW. The situation forced several major companies, including BHP Billiton and Arrium, to warn the state government of possible shutdowns because of higher energy prices, forcing Treasurer and ­Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis to intervene by asking a private operator of a mothballed gas-fired plant in Adelaide for a temporary power spike.”

    Why do they go minus you may well ask? http://www.aweo.org/windconsumption.html

    But as further reported-

    ‘Not everyone is unhappy — farmer Peter Ebsary hosts four turbines from the Snowtown wind farm in South Australia’s mid north. The wind farm, owned by TrustPower, is the state’s largest.
    “We get a financial return and don’t have to do anything … we just sit back and collect the money as long as the wind blows,” he said.’

    Not hard to see why Watt, Stevenson, Tesla and Co didn’t exactly have to twist our ancestors’ arms to give up the horse, windmill and millstream but apparently history is not our strong point nowadays. In that regard the history of mankind’s ability to store energy is equally pitiful, mainly in the form of calories and pumping water uphill, but hope springs eternal with the huge technological hurdles of electrochemical storage they tell me-
    http://www.msn.com/en-au/money/company-news/is-teslas-elon-musk-the-willy-wonka-of-the-car-making-world/ar-BBtPDHG?ocid=spartandhp

  51. This is all a bit silly, given that South Australia is home to a monster copper – uranium mine!

    • Yes we have been called the Saudi Arabia of uranium but like the politician asked whether he ever smoked drugs he replied yes but I never inhaled.

      You can have an interesting play with Australia’s total and State wind energy output as a percentage of installed capacity here – http://energy.anero.id.au/wind-energy/
      Interesting reaction showing a relative how wind works after he was somewhat perturbed at where our power prices are going. ‘Why weren’t we effing well told!’ seemed to sum it up nicely and sadly he’s not alone although the watermelon media can’t ignore it any longer.

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