Entire state of South Australia has power black out because of flawed climate change energy policy

Governor Brown has California on same “dark ages” renewable energy path as South Australia

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin


The entire state of South Australia suffered a complete power black out on Wednesday September 28  plugging it’s nearly 1.7 million residents, communities and businesses into darkness.

Loss of available power from transmissions lines feeding the region from other states coupled with South Australia’s ill-considered climate change energy policy of forced shutdown of the states operating coal plants to promote heavy use of renewable energy created this latest power debacle.


Last July the state barely averted energy black outs when reduced outside electrical energy supplies forced huge and costly purchases of needed power to restore electrical system reliability.(http://theconversation.com/south-australias-electricity-price-woes-are-more-due-to-gas-than-wind-62824)


The forced shutdown of operating coal plants and mandated increased use of renewables had significantly increased energy costs to consumers by eliminating production from low cost power plants while increasing use of more costly renewable energy which also requires the operation of higher cost natural gas power plants for reliability backup with these backup costs hidden from consumers. (http://www.smh.com.au/business/renewables-shift-brings-threat-to-power-supply-20160921-grl0bs.html)



The September 28 state wide black out is clearly creating challenges to the governments climate change policy initiative which is responsible for these power availability and high energy price debacles and which has jeopardized the power supply of the entire region. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-25/sa’s-power-price-spike-sounds-national-electricity-alarm/7875970)


Unfortunately Governor Brown has California on the same path as the state of South Australia where the present and future reliability of the states power supply is dependent on huge imports of power from adjacent states which provide 1/3 of California’s electrical energy.


Unlike a decade ago where use of this imported power was driven by considerations of lowering energy costs today this imported energy is absolutely essential for sustaining the states electrical system reliability.

298 thoughts on “Entire state of South Australia has power black out because of flawed climate change energy policy

  1. Apostrophes, please. This article is darn near unreadable in its current state.
    [?? The only unmatched apostrophes used begin the selected quoted paragraphs, and those paragraphs are no longer “editable text” but blocks (like a graph or an image). .mod]

      • Perhaps Morris refers to the missing apostrophes in:
        (a) the state’s operating
        (b) the government’s climate change policy
        (c) the state’s power supply
        (d) sustaining the state’s electrical system
        None too important in my opinion.

      • Perhaps another English or Journalism major? Perhaps, missing the science caused by a shortage of apostrophes and quotation marks.
        A punctual problem with missing punctuations responding with self imposed civil authority for identifying and pursuing punctuation misuse.
        One would think that after reading Lewserandumbsky’s and Crooks latest paper the other day, language disciplinarians would be inured or numb.

      • It’s or its?
        from English Grammar Today
        It’s is the contracted form of it is or it has:
        Can you hear that noise? Where do you think it’s (it is) coming from?
        It’s (it is) nearly the end of the month. It’s (it has) gone really quickly.
        Its is a possessive determiner (like my, your, his) which we use when referring to things or animals:
        Every house in the street has got its own garage.

      • Hopefully, you’re not laughing because you think you’re correct. I’m often surprised that the spelling and grammar in the comments of this site seems not to be commensurate with what I suspect to be the educational level and academic backgrounds of those who comment here.

      • More often than not, gramatical errors stem from habitual dependance on Spell Checking programs and zero attempts at proof reading. People are so accustomed to Spell Checking automatically correcting their errors that they never realize the errors anymore. And there is also the missused word that is still spelled correctly like THAN rather than THEN

    • @ Peter Morris
      So the above post reports a dire, electrical “black-out” situation in the state of South Australia, caused (if the post correctly reports the matter, of course) by lunatic “green” energy policies. And, you, Peter, after reading that post, and gaining the “pole position” (the very first comment) advantage, with regards to all the other comments that follow, then choose to lead off the discussion with…with…well…with an attention-seeking, preening, booger-flick complaint about some missing apostrophes, accompanied by the assurance that, for exquisitely-sensitive, grammar-geek fuss-pot, you, Pete, ol’ sport, those truant apostrophes make the post “durn near unreadable”. And that’s it! That’s all you apparently gotta say, guy.
      Hmmm…you know, Pete, ol’ buddy, you’ve really gotten moi scratching moi’s head. I mean, like, I keep askin’ myself just what sort of a “Peter Morris” would pull such an improbable, school-marm scold stunt?

    • Leaving out apostrophes decreases the number of pixels required, thus saving electricity and reducing CO2 release.

      • definitely true: its require less space and fills the 4th space taken only by the ‘ which are a few black pixels on a white background. Thus its blackens more the screen then it’s which give me a microwatt of power saving.
        okay can i now have my grant for a green power saving grammar and spelling reform? LOL

    • I thought the same thing.
      Then i read it again , and “plugging into darkness” seems to often be the result of relying on renewables for critical infrastructure.
      [But one gets as much energy “plugging into darkness” as you do plugging into a energy grid that relies on too many expensive renewables. .mod]

  2. Damned if you, damned if you don’t:
    As loads in supplying regions grow, power costs to CA go up (or are curtailed).
    Increased imports to CA overload existing intertie capacity, resulting in blackouts.
    We told the State that same thing in 1979. Guess what happened in 2000 and subsequent years?
    Here we go again.

    • I was in NYC living next to a slum when we had a two day power failure in 1977. My wonderful neighbors fixed this by lighting up the night via burning the entire neighborhood to the ground, totally destroying it. But I did have plenty of light! The noise, though, was like a million demons screaming.

  3. I was in California during the blackouts, and the state apparently did not learn how fragile an electrical grid is. Blaming the malign influence of Enron was sufficient.
    I am just suprised that the grids in South Australia and Germany have not crashed earlier.

  4. The trick is to make the correct politicians bear the blame. I suspect that people will become a lot more skeptical about CAGW when the consequences (blackouts and expensive electricity) begin to bite.

  5. The entire NE USA has come perilously close to the conditions which trigger full Winter blackout on several occasions in recent past. With most modern homes dependent upon electricity to operate heating systems, the result of such a Winter blackout could prove fatal for many people. Lets hope that those responsible for grid operations are staying a step ahead of the political forces which endanger grid reliability.

  6. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “The September 28 state wide black out is clearly creating challenges to the governments climate change policy initiative which is responsible for these power availability and high energy price debacles and which has jeopardized the power supply of the entire region.” – who would have thunk?!
    Sceptics have been rightly warning of the disastrous consequences of the ideological scramble toward renewable (unreliable) energy under green central planning for many years. And on September 28, the chickens certainly came home to roost with South Australia’s *complete* and total state wide power blackout.
    I will be posting more on this on ‘Climatism’ later, including information from a scathing report on the dangerous shift to renewable energy, put out by the Grattan Institute – “Keeping the lights on: lessons from South Australia’s power shock.”
    Thoughts go out to those affected by the SA blackout. Hoping services return to normal soon.

  7. This will focus the minds of three year term politicians of the societal need to give stable base load power to the population.
    All airconditioning and ventilation systems would have shut down.
    The hospital system would have to rely on backups.
    Traffic control would be impossible. It would be interesting to know how the mobile phone network fared.
    Hopefully the report into nuclear energy will be revisited
    Especially pg 52 about costs and reliability of power supply.
    If SA wants to attract high tech business it needs reliable power.
    To build our strategic subs the Commonwealth, with constitutional defense power, must mandate base load power,preferably nuclear, to have the subs built.

      • “Think of all the food that would have spoiled in a 6 hour blackout.”
        Only 6 hours? None, if they had the sense to keep the refrigerator/freezer doors shut. Almost none, if they didn’t.

  8. “policy of forced shutdown of the states operating coal plants”
    There was no forced shutdown. SA has few coal resources, and has relied on low-grade coal in a remote location. The private firm responsible (Alinta) couldn’t operate it profitably any more.

      • There is now a national grid and energy market. Leigh Creek could not compete with power from the East, even if that comes with some risk of storm outages. That is a reality independent of efforts to also make use of solar/wind.

      • “they can’t get it around the coast”
        They could, but it costs. A firm that did that could not compete with energy generated on site in NSW, and transmitted by wire. Just business economics, not government meddling.

      • Utter bull$hit by Nick Stokes. The Northern and Playford stations were made uneconomic by a huge increase in the frequency of the negative pricing events caused the large deployment of wind.
        The Heywood interconnector has been in existence since the last century/millenium. MurrayLink was commissioned (came online) in 2002 – they didn’t sudden get constructed in the last 5 years and lower the market pricing in South Australia.

      • “they didn’t sudden get constructed in the last 5 years”
        Well, Alinta say they have lost $100M over the last four years running Leigh Creek/Flinders. Competition from wind is also a factor (it does work). But bottom line is that Alinta closed coal because they couldn’t make money against competitive sources.

      • “But bottom line is that Alinta closed coal because they couldn’t make money against HEAVILY SUBSIDISED sources with idiotic feed-in mandates.
        There, Fixed it for you.

      • From what I understand, coal needs to keep running all the time to supply baseload, but the market is setup to pay any wind generation first. So coal is being consumed with no return on the expense. End result is that coal fired stations lose money, not because they are uncompetitive, but because the fragile renewables get first dibs at the cash. But they are necessary to supply the major effort in an essential service like power.
        The biggest issue is that no new generation and highly efficient coal power stations are being built. Now I wonder why that is…?

      • Australia has ample good quality coal, in NSW and Qld. None in SA. So it makes sense to generate energy in those states (plus hydro and a rather unique brown coal situation in Victoria), and supply to SA. Better to send by wire, even with storm risk, than ship the coal.

      • i guess that’s why all the power in the midwest usa used to be generated in wyoming, too- cuz those 2 mile long coal trains couldn’t get it to the to illinois cheap enuff.

      • “that’s why there’s no blackout! now i know”
        There is no state blackout now. There was for a while last night. They could set up a system with more security but greater ongoing cost. People seem to prefer the risk.
        Not all US states are self-sufficient in electricity. They make similar trade-offs. It’s the point of having a national grid.

      • Nick Stokes – I’m sorry but SA has vast amounts of coal – over 10 billion tons of the same quality coal you find in the Galilee Basin and in the Hunter. It’s in the Arckaringa Basin.

    • The government may not have ordered the company to shut down. However, with policies that made the company NOT profitable the government most certainly did force the company to shut down.

      • It’s curious how when we had local generation burning Leigh Creek dirt (which was put in by a politician who was tired of having coal supplies chopped off by the eastern states), we had far far cheaper power than now.
        Since the national grid and “cheap power down the wire from the eastern states” our power prices have more than doubled, and we have the most expensive electricity in the world.
        At the same time Aust is exporting vast amounts of natural gas (which uses 1/3 of the gas taken in compression to liquify the remainder). This has caused gas shortages, and a rise in gas prices. The price is gas is now so high that the gas fired power stations find it difficult to run and make a quid. The old Torrens Island power station that was original built to use fuel oil. It was converted to use natural gas about 30 years ago, and the fuel oil was “never to be used again”. Guess what they burn most of the time now? Yep, fuel oil, cos its cheaper to IMPORT fuel oil than to use our own natural gas! [This from an inside source who works there.]
        Worlds gone mad, and we’ve been fed a pack of lies for a very long time.

      • Point taken Wally.
        We manage to export LNG to SEA and Japan at bedrock prices while having resale price maintenance for our own domestic supply.
        Even the USA now has cheap domestic gas.
        As Nick says ‘people seem to prefer the risk’.
        But which people?
        The ruling class or those who suffer the outages and ongoing price hikes?

    • Nick,
      The reason the coal power went out of business was the government mandating that renewables come first on the grid. This is government meddling in the grid. This is the major reason why it was no longer financially viable, to operate / maintain / re-invest in the coal plants. Also the local state government has stated very clearly that it want to go to 100% renewable, killing off the inventor confidence in coal backed power.
      There was a major issue earlier in the year, but they demolished the last coal plant three weeks ago.
      Last night they lost an entire state, from the latest local report I hear, due to a frequency response that was a result of the wind power dropping, too much wind, and a storm took out a tower that impacted the frequency on the inter-connector. It went outside of tolerance, it drops the state – by design.
      Whilst this storm was a bit usual, large storms, thunder storms are not usual in that part of the world.
      This is a direct consequence of local government policy.

      • “The reason the coal power went out of business was the government mandating that renewables come first on the grid.”
        The government doesn’t mandate that. It’s just the way the market system works. Suppliers bid to supply at a certain price. If the wind turbine is spinning, the supplier needs to sell, and with no fuel cost can underbid any gas/coal generator. Basically all wind product will be sold, at any price.

      • Nick you should read up on synchronization inertia. Wind and solar do not supply the inertia. With no heavy rotating inertia and base generation, voila outage. It is my understanding if the coal plants where still operating there may not even have been an outage.
        I am a retired grid operator and just shake my head how the green folly is reducing grid stability all over the world. Oh I have back up generation, fuel for two weeks and a month of food.

      • “Nick you should read up on synchronization inertia.”
        Maintaining an old system which required mining in remote area and transporting low grade coal 230 km is a very expensive way of achieving synchronization inertia.

      • and what is your option Nick ? it has actually worked well for us for many decades and we stupidly turn our backs on nuclear. So what do you recommend? right now I mean, not something thats coming, will be developed or is powered by rainbows and unicorns.

    • Double the price Nick, it would still be cheaper than subsidized intermittent renewables. It would have been profitable at a higher price, just the interstate coal electricity was “”cheaper”
      Come on, Aussie, you know that is true.

    • Alinta can run coal power stations in inter- state but not South Australia. Legislation forced an increase in costs. Leigh Creek and Port Augusta were shut down, as was intended when the regulations went into effect. The current South Australian Government is very proud of the current fiasco, it’s all part of a grand plan to attract new industry. The South Australian Government boasts about how it got rid of Leigh Creek. The Government gets very very angry when the facts contradict the policy, such as businesses closing and leaving. The Government is very very angry at what happened last night, and it’s everyone else’s fault.

    • SMH: “But Wednesday’s event will trigger renewed debate over the state’s heavy reliance on renewable energy which has forced the closure of uncompetitive power stations, putting the electricity network in South Australia under stress.”
      There is only one error, the word uncompetitive. The competitive but now non-profitable coal has been forced out.

    • ….Ummm, South Australia doesn’t have coal …..Ummm, are you saying North Australia can ship coal to China, but not to south Austrailia ? Talk about digging holes !

  9. Just to add a comparison for those not aware of how large this blackout is,South Australia covers an area of 983,480 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it’s the fourth-largest of Australia’s states and territories and has a population of 1.7 million people.

    • Yes some key transmission line got blown over, historically some of the older SA ones look like tin foil. However in the lead up to the event wind turbines were shut down due to excessive wind, and for many hours into the event once transmission was sorted out there was still no wind turbine power with gas and diesel supplying what was available . Right now 8AM the day after, the State is running on 90% gas , although that may be business as usual if the wind has died away.
      Of course the its nothing to do with renewables. The fact that the State has had multiple outages in a year since going 40% plus renewables is because Unicorns.

    • You forgot to add that it has the country’s most expensive electricity, the most renewable electricity (except for Tasmania which has good hydro-electric conditions) and the most unreliable electricity.

  10. It’s a crying shame, at the same time very funny.
    South Australians are sitting on the “the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world” (Wiki: Olympic Dam mine) but the government intends to pursue the crazy ‘renewables’ policy.
    Will Steffen from the Climate Council: ”… these conditions, driven by climate change, are likely increasing the intensity of storms like the one in South Australia …”, it follows that if S A were 100% wind and solar storms like the one that blacked-out the state wouldn’t happen.

    • No amount of coal or uranium will prevent a bllack out when a storm takes out the grid. which is what happened.

      • Except that the storm did not take out the grid. It took out a few transmission towers on a single line in the north of the state.
        SA operates a similar N-1 Electricity security requirement to what we have in New Zealand. That means that the system can withstand the largest contingent event being the loss of a single generator, or Transmission circuit without any noticeable effect. There should always be sufficient reserve generation connected to the system to allow for this, and still have sufficient standby reserve (not necessarily connected, but available) to cope with an extended contingent event, being the loss of a second generator, or transmission circuit. In the is case that was not sufficient as the wind generation ramped down, and individual wind turbines are not large enough to be included as contingent plant. But when 40% of the State’s energy is coming from that source, and they all ramp down then there are problems.
        From a report on http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/84813559/parts-of-south-australia-may-face-prolonged-power-outage
        “Lightning strikes knocked out transmission towers in the north of the state. That shouldn’t have taken out the rest of the state,” the industry figure said.
        “Clearly something’s broken; there should have been some protection.”
        Ad Feedback
        A limited population base and the closure of large cheap power stations as its reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind has risen has raised a series of technical issues which the electricity transmission companies in South Australia are now grappling with.
        “The generation profile in South Australia doesn’t help,” another industry source said, referring to the loss of some so-called ‘baseload power capacity which operates 24 hours a day as the use of renewables has risen.
        “But AEMO ‘going black’ by shutting down the industry due to a weather event is highly unusual.”
        It is believed AEMO sought to shut down parts of the system which “triggered a full shutdown of the system to protect itself”, was the way one industry figure put it.

    • Never mind there was a worse storm 50 years ago… Steffen has absolutely no shame. I am hoping we can export him like Lew and Cook soon.

    • “….these conditions, driven by climate change, are likely increasing the intensity of storms like the one in South Australia …”, it follows that if S A were 100% wind and solar storms like the one that blacked-out the state wouldn’t happen.”
      Seriously?? They actually are doubling down on stupid.

  11. While reliance on imports does increase vulnerability to storms, I have to agree that it’s a rather severe omission.

    • Not really Ben. South Australia is about 1.5 times the size of Texas. No “storm” is going to take out that area. Similarly there are no trees near the major transmission lines for two reasons; a: The towers are taller than the trees and b: they get trimmed regularly.

    • SA resident here. Nick Stokes the entire state has insufficient capacity to support its own demand, it relies on 2 x interconnectors from other states – one of which is down for maintenance. A severe storm took out a 275kV line to an area that USED to have a coal fired power station. That being taken out caused a cascade, where the interconnector dropped off. Then local generation was insufficient so it all isolated as well, leaving the entire state with no power.
      Thats the entire 1.67 million residents. AND YES the ENTIRE STATE does have mains power from the grid, there has been a grid build program over about 50 years to do that. There are 2 or 3 very small isolated local generation pockets but these amount to around 50k residents or thereabouts.

    • One big part of the problem in Australia is that high winds (up to 140kph according to the news) and a possible tornado toppled a major transmission line. The line was not damaged by falling trees, the wind folded the towers in half. Rainfall of about 100mm in one day also caused flooding doing even more damage to the grid.
      While the article is quick to point the finger at renewables. The news reports indicate it is nothing more than major grid damage due to high winds, flooding and downed trees. Grids entirely powered by fossil fuels will and have failed due too conditions like this.

    • The rest of Australia frequently gets storms with 140 km/hr winds. That the transmission towers could not stand up to this wind is appalling.
      The towers may have failed, but up until recently shutting down coal, the state wide black out would not have occurred. The fact remains, under current policy, the infrastructure is inadequate to cope.

    • “While the article is quick to point the finger at renewables.”
      It was the irrational belief that renewables would cover it, that left South Australia without spare capacity. Note the graph that showed they had been completely taken out of the supply mix.
      The power lines that failed went to Port Augusta, where the coal power stations used to be. Windmills have to be feathered for their own protection and solar is blocked by storm clouds. The immediate trigger for the blackout may have been because of storm damage, but the fundamental cause was because there was no backup generation capacity.

    • …Stupidest comment of the year goes to….. Nick Stokes…”Most of the population, but only a fraction of the state’s area.”….The only “AREA” that matters is WHERE THERE ARE PEOPLE ! I really don’t think the Scorpions in the desert are too worried about electrical power for their families needs…

  12. That SA’s infrastructure is so vulnerable to a single storm (not even a state-wide storm) after 20 years of ‘gold plating’ the poles and wires – should give all Australia cause for concern. This is a massive failure in energy policy.
    In the meantime Business rightly expects Tasmania’s state owned hydro supply should hold significant reserves (up to a year) to avert any future crisis caused by extended drought & basslink failure. The Hydro boffins are publicly reluctantly citing opportunity cost – the opportunity cost of filling the dams.

    • What a crock! No mention of it being the worst spring storm in 50 years, winds clocked at 120km, but no, it’s all caused by a rampant ideology.
      Straight from the busy, WUWT, ridiculously long bow department. SMFH.

      • Sure, SA had wind gusts of up to 120 k’s – but this happens regularly and at a higher wind speed in other parts of the country – without all consuming power blackouts.
        It has happened 3 times this year alone in Tassie – along with floods, drought and snow!
        But, I suppose those spring storms are so much worse than Summer, Autumn and Winter Storms.

  13. And the Australian state of Tasmania had to import 150 diesel generators when a low-rainfall period reduced hydro power output while, at the same time, the coal-power umbilical from another state, Victoria, went down.
    We have three jurisdictions in Australia that are acting out the pretence of moving towards fully ‘renewable’ energy and each one of them quietly maintains a backup umbilical to coal-fired power plants in other locations, in much the same way that Germany claims to have abandoned nuclear generated power yet imports it from across the border. This is all so that they can act out their fantasy of living in a pretty little world where everything is powered by the sun, with everyone travelling around in magic cars and planes that somehow propel themselves, working in magic jobs that come from ‘somewhere’, being paid with magic money that comes from ‘somewhere’ and using that magic money to buy magic consumer goods that somehow just appear from ‘somewhere’. To fully understand the mentality at work here, picture all of this and then imagine its advocates skipping through the forest to the sounds of the children’s song The Teddy Bears’ Picnic. These are adults, but they have the naivety of children. They think that for something to be true they only have to wish it were true. Unbelievably, these are the people who now control public policy.

    • This matches my impressions perfectly. Just add a complement of mile-thick ego-defences, and you begin to see the real nature of the problem.

  14. yeah!!!!

    [Best to never cheer another person’s problems and discomfort. Even it is their country’s fault, their country’s leaders’ faults. .mod]

    • i LOVE consequences because it’s what keeps people honest.
      this is a GOOD thing. i won’t fake sympathy for stupid , no way , no how.
      i like to see just desserts served in heaping helpings.
      it is an act of moral embezzlement to deprive somebody of that.
      i don’t have to; i don’t want to; i won’t. like it or lump it.

      • There will be no consequences. Queue the “perfect storm” speeches and media releases saying it had nothing to do with renewables. Personally I think in this case renewables had a secondary role in slowing down response in that they were offline due to excessive wind and would be the last thing you want in any network trying to bootstrap itself back up into operation , even if avaialbale.

    • Zactly. All the commenters here act as if it is a bad thing. For all we know, families have gathered around a candle and patted themselves on the back for their helping reduce carbon (sic) emissions. They elected their leaders; surely they have embraced their rhetoric.

      • and if you say that you are a “baseloader” yet another little put down the renewables/alarmist camp use. They seem to think they have a new paradigm that exists beyond the laws of physics. Once they are allowed to do more than dabble around the edges, we find those laws still applly.

  15. Why don’t they simply run a pipeline to the bottom of the ocean?
    We’ve been assured there’s an over-abundance of excess heat there!

    • At the very least there’s potential for a big study requiring big grants. I wonder if the state could be run off the potential energy from that potential?

  16. I see that California generates roughly 8% of its power from renewables, although they will, of course, misleadingly claim that “12% of our power generation is from renewables.” That’s “generation”, not consumption. South Carolina will shortly bring online two more nuclear reactors, giving them a total of
    nine reactors.and a power generation system over 75% carbon free. Anybody want to estimate when
    the California Fools will ever achieve this level and at what cost?

    • When California nukes??? When they get a smart conservative government like SC, that’s when! But I wonder how much the cost of the change to SC nukes has been, the cost of operation and electric bills. A RINO like Arnold married to a Kennedy queen will not do! They need to change the legislature too.

  17. They are blaming the STORM. I can imagine that is will be 1 in 100 year storm by the time all the excuses finish. Nowhere near as bad as they have stated. I live in this State. A coal fired power station was shut and then they used a connector to another coal fired power station in another State (Victoria). Wise move. Wind turbines is the way to go, so they have told us for years. That is as long as you don’t put them in my ‘backyard’! There is no real base load power supply. So what is inevitable happened and it is not the first time either. The last time was a cover up.
    They have lost control of producing power. It is not really necessary for business!??? This State also has the highest unemployment of the nation. Needless to say I have independent solar panel with batteries as my back up.

  18. The “experts” have said the blackout in South Australia had nothing to do with the renewable energy mix they have .
    It’s just been confirmed that the bird killing wind farms were not working at the time of the blackout because it was too windy .
    If south oz still had only coal electricity generation would the blackout still have happened ??
    This question needs to be asked .

    • Oh it was a storm all right, which led to a cascade failure that isolated the interconnectors, and local generation does not have the capacity to supply the whole state. So the local generators isolate to protect themselves and bingo, no power for you!
      Of course the system is designed to protect itself, and a jolly good thing too. BUT… its the endless meddling by well meaning idiots which means that because we don’t have the capacity to be self sufficient we can’t run anything when we don’t have the interconnect teat there to feed us. Stupid design.

      • “its the endless meddling by well meaning idiots”
        What could possibly make you believe they’re ‘well meaning’?

  19. The ABC link that was mentioned in the article, while sounding like it was critical, actually encourages MORE renewables. Apparently the massive cost blowout was a failure by states and territories to have a distributed renewable system across the nation and an agreement to phase out coal. I didnt follow the logic until I realised there was no logic. Not surprising for an ABC article, disappointing, but not surprising.

  20. As the ‘renewable’ policy proceeds, South Australia will become increasingly dependent on an “interconnector” with adjoining Victoria for base load (40%) coming mostly from brown coal (probably the largest deposit in the world —oh the ironing), however the left-green government wants to follow S A down the ‘renewable’ road to nowhere.
    Anyone with half a brain can see where this is heading.
    As a Victorian I can say this: that this situation has the potential to provide enormous entertainment in years to come; adding to the absurdity is the fact is that these idiots think they are leading the world to the bright sunny uplands of a fossil-fuel-free future.

  21. The governor of the California Gray Davis was dismissed in the year 2003 because of the blacks out.
    His successor Anold Schwarzenegger didn’t do better anything of.
    This is due to the ideological position of the population that living in an evolved state for the scientific search also wants to believe in the energy of the panels PV and of the windmills.

  22. Tis what happens when folks let those with a PPL degree determine the well being of their country.
    Going to be a long difficult road back to reality.

  23. Looks like another point of evidence that Eleanor Denny is right: Adding too many renewable energy sources leads to grid destabilization and a negative ROI. The cost of keeping CCGT plants idle but ready to provide instant power to offset the inability of renewables to provide base load is astronomical (and not counted in the cost of renewable energy!) Even so, nature has its way with you every so often (through weather or other forms of applied chaos theory), and grid crashes are the result. Renewable-caused grid crashes are only going to become more frequent with such misguided energy policy and deliberate attacks on cost effective base load generating capacity.

  24. Well… There is one nice thing about an electrical blackout, it is INCREDIBLY SUSTAINABLE, you can keep one going for years and years and years, it takes no effort, and costs\emits nothing…..
    Maybe that was the plan ?
    sarc off

  25. With all that rains that fell, contrary to the predictions of Tim Flannery, perhaps South Australia could invest in hydroelectricity for power generation. At least Adelaide’s dams will fill, as well as Canberra’s, Sydney’s , Hobart’s and Melbourne will get a nice dose from this system. I am waiting for the “climate change” social warriors to be out in force.
    Meanwhile, I am watching the dam level updates and smirking about how utterly wrong the “science” based forecasts of dams running dry are. Obviously, the hypothesis that underpins all the predictions of damns running dry is flawed. Meanwhile, the taxpayers subsidise the Green madness in South Australia.

    • Sometimes?? Methinks ‘always’ is closer to reality. Politicians like to think they are Gods. Every once an a while reality brings them up short, VERY short.

  26. Yes, the Climate Council has just issued a statement claiming this is a portent of climate change….
    Please bear in mind that the Climate Council and Climate Institute are PRIVATE groups. They have nothing to do with government. The opinions are their own (propaganda.)

    • Nick Stokes
      September 28, 2016 at 4:36 pm
      “SA weather: No link between blackout and renewable energy, experts say”
      There’s a nice laugh for my morning 🙂

      • Hey, don’t, whatever you do, let the truth get in the way of your bias. I know, it hilarious that anyone might know more about this than you.

      • Nick , if SA had no reliance whatsoever on power from other states , had all their coal power stations going how much of SA would have been blacked out ??

    • That’s right, in fact the storm would have been 40% worse without the 40% ‘renewables’ already operating in the state.

    • If you actually want to know what is happening with SA power, this report from the Grattan institute on recent volatility is a good place to start. They are not a bunch of greenies. And it is the author of that report who is quoted thus:
      “But the report’s author, Tony Wood, said the blackout was as a result of a particularly violent storm and it was usual for a system to shut down to protect itself from further damage.
      “My understanding, at least at the moment, is there’s no evidence to suggest these two issues are related,” Mr Wood said.”
      “There’s no evidence to suggest this was caused by too much wind power, or the dependence on wind power, or anything else, or would’ve been any different if any of the power stations that had been shut down earlier this year had still been operating.
      “If you’ve got a wind farm or a coal-fired power station at the end of a transmission line, and that system either is taken out by a storm or is forced to shut down to protect itself from a storm, it doesn’t matter what the energy source is.”
      There are two interconnector power lines between South Australia and the eastern states, but Mr Wood said there was no indication having more links would have prevented the issue.”

      My bold. It was a failure of transmission, not supply.

      • Tony Wood — would that be the Tony Wood who “… from 2009 to 2014 … was also Program Director of Clean Energy Projects at the Clinton Foundation, advising governments in the Asia-Pacific region on effective deployment of large-scale, low-emission energy technologies …”?
        “There’s no evidence to suggest this was caused by too much wind power …” (Tony Wood).
        Well he would say that wouldn’t he.

      • Nick Stokes
        September 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm
        “If you actually want to know what is happening with SA power, this report from the Grattan institute on recent volatility is a good place to start. They are not a bunch of greenies.”
        Not a bunch of greenies?
        “Grattan staff are encouraged to
        Take a proactive approach in protecting the environment, and sharing environmentally friendly ideas with others
        Provide comments on Grattan’s Environmental Policy at any time
        Participate in Melbourne University’s Sustainability Forum and Staff Environmental Advocates programs
        Learn more about Melbourne University’s Sustainable Campus initiative ”

      • Tony Wood. He was for a long time an executive at Origin Energy (one of our main gas and elec firms). He did also advise governments via the Clinton Foundation while working there and at Grattan.
        But he actually knows about this stuff, and I can’t see comparable sources of knowledge here.

      • If SA still had reliable LOCAL electricity supplies, they would not need to rely on the interconnects.
        Now, why has the LOCAL energy production been shut down, Nick ???

      • The good old “appeal to authority” argument – sounds familiar
        I had no idea you were an Aussie, Nick Stokes. Yet another to add to our roll of shame

      • Failure of transmission not supply, really? Why then a day later they are still not game to put wind powere back on the network? Gas and diesel running flat out.

  27. A single storm should not take out a state.
    The wind was to windy so they turned off the wind turbines
    The storm dropped part of the grid, this combined with the lack of location generation caused a significant change in frequency. Safety kicked in – dropped the interconnect.
    This is designed to work this, every time there is a major storm, this is a significant risk.

    • The wind was about 40 knots according to BoM. That is less than a category 1 cyclone whuch might cause minor damage to a house. Yet here it has blown over towers. Says more about the towers and planning than about any alleged extreme weather event.

  28. J. Exactly. And the political dunderheads do not comprehend how fast that can happen. Trip offs are timed to ~ zero voltage for very good physics reasons, which happens twice per AC cycle. So 1/2 of 1/50 second in Europe and Australia, 1/2 of 1/60 second in North America.

  29. Certainly the human mind is capable of making excuses to shift blame ad nauseum. In fact, once they have run out of ways to shift blame, there is a hard core of believers who maintain, using the present example, South Australia’s grid is doing just fine, couldn’t be better. Now maybe this blackout would have occurred even with more dispatchable power in the mix, but Schumpeter made a point pertinent to this when he said “Socialists would be happiest eating bread baked by socialists, even were it riddle with mice.”

  30. They just need to fly John Holdren down from the White House Science office to declare that climate change caused too much wind and the shutting of the wind turbines and the power power outage. Therefore it was indeed climate change that caused it. He will not be available for science references afterward. It should work in Australia anyway.

  31. Nothing to do with heavy reliance on renewable energy! 🙂
    “At that time, the state government brought pressure to bear on a local power company for an idled power station to be restarted to avoid potential disruptions, following a lack of electricity generated from wind and solar sources at a time when it was unable to “import” sufficient supply from Victoria.
    But Wednesday’s event will trigger renewed debate over the state’s heavy reliance on renewable energy which has forced the closure of uncompetitive power stations, putting the electricity network in South Australia under stress.”

    • Well, if you look at the top of that story, there is now a caveat:
      “This analysis was written in the immediate aftermath of the blackout. For more recent updates, please click here “
      And if you click, you find:
      “The storm took down three transmission lines, nine towers and forced the electricity connection with Victoria to shut down. Lightning also struck a power station.
      “This is a catastrophic natural event which has destroyed our infrastructure,” he said. “There is no infrastructure that can be developed that can protect you against catastrophic events that take out not one, not two, but three pieces of infrastructure.”
      Political recriminations have begun with federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and other MPs questioning the state’s increasing reliance on renewable energy despite assurances that the switch to cleaner energy sources was not to blame.”

      • Nick, why didn’t NSW and/or QLD have TOTAL state-wide blackouts during the huge east-coast low that went through 12-18 months ago? Many towers, poles and lines went down during that storm and yet there was only wide-spread ‘localised’ blackouts, some areas were not even affected, I for one was without power for 6 days (and roof mounted solar panels don’t work when the grid goes down)!
        Wonder if those huge, fossil-fueled power stations we have here in the Hunter Valley had anything to do with it?

  32. They tell us “decentralized” renewable energy is good. So why does South Australia need an interconnector to Victoria to keep its grid running? If “centralized” (AKA dispatchable), fossil and nuclear plant is now “bad”, how come it’s impossible to blackstart the broken grid without sources of large dispatchable power?
    There’s so much garbage put about by renewables advocates. They can’t distinguish myths they echo to each other from what’s real or fantasy.

    • Yep, somehow the renewables advocates can maintain a chinese wall between these 2 conflicting ideals. It’s even more disparate when they talk about domestic solar PV, batteries and microgrids and complain about “gold plated” grids yet they then demand more interconnectors to decouple wind farms across the nation.
      True deniers, the lot of them

  33. It was a meridional jet stream that transported this deep low pressure system from deep in the Southern Ocean. Parts of the jet stream were originating in Antarctica. Wild jet streams have been affecting the weather right across the Australian continent in the last year or so. Hopefully Australian governments will recognize that these are caused by long-term cyclical changes in the sun and scrap their renewable energy policies. If they don’t then our insurance bills will soon be rising as fast as our electricity bills.
    It is a pity that most of today’s politicians don’t have any knowledge of history. If they did then they would recognize that the current weather patterns across the world have similarities to those that existed 200 and also 400 years ago. Even reading Charles Dickens the reader would get an appreciation of what the weather was like in the UK 400 years ago and see the similarities to what is occurring now.

    • + many! I see the same patterns in historical Dutch weather reports. They include paintings from the Middle Ages. and those in the early 1800’s and none of the those were government “reports”. The same historical reports are in Sagas and other “tomes” from those eras. We really should pay way more attention to them.

    • Interesting, although I don’t recall Charles Dickens writing about the 17th century. His work is usually fairly topical.

  34. I quote:
    “The September 28 state wide black out is clearly creating challenges to the governments climate change policy initiative which is responsible for these power availability and high energy price debacles and which has jeopardized the power supply of the entire region.”
    Don’t count on them changing their climate change policy. True believers do not give up their religion – they try to justify it by deceiving the masses about the cause of the problem. The people who just passively accept it have been brainwashed by their incessant propaganda that they are trying to save the world from a coming Armageddon. Their propaganda is fueled by the billions they say are needed for climate research. They cheat it out of numerous states, localities, and even individuals, and use it instead to fuel a world-wide propaganda machine Their trump card is having brainwashed the ruling cliques of western society, including some billionaires with soft brains, who now augment their propaganda machine. With governments doing their bidding they are now well on the way to taking us back to the stone age. All for nothing because the greenhouse effect that is supposed to cause an Armageddon works only in a laboratory test tube and fails in the atmosphere. That is because carbon dioxide is not the main greenhouse gas in the atmosphere – water vapor is. It constitutes 95 percent of all the greenhouse gases in air. Water vapor and carbon dioxide make up a joint absorption window for infrared radiation in the atmosphere. If you now add more carbon dioxide to air, CO2 will start to absorb in the IR, just as we are told. But this will increase their joint absorption window. And just as soon as it happens, water vapor will begin to diminish, rain out, and the original absorption window is restored. But removal of water vapor has the effect of lowering total IR absorption. And as a result of this the greenhouse warming no longer works and Armageddon is cancelled. This has been known since 2007 when Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi introduced it but knowledge of it has been vigorously suppressed by the IPCC. It is time to speak up and tell everyone that the Armageddon is not coming. And those who gave them money, get your money back if you can.

    • I don’t think Al Gore needed any “bribing”. But it is interesting to know just how many pies George has his fingers in.

  35. The failure cascade is a direct function of the supply mix, according to this article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-29/rushing-to-renewables-risks-sector's-reputation:-uhlmann/7888290
    The money shot:
    “….a diabolically tricky engineering problem. For an electricity network to function, demand and supply have to be kept in the perfect harmony of 50 hertz every second of every day. If the frequency gets out of tune, the system identifies a fault that could destroy it and that trips the shutdown switch.
    This electrical harmony is called synchronous supply, and thermal power is very good at delivering it to the grid.
    Wind power is asynchronous — its frequency fluctuates with the breeze and it has to be stabilised by the give and take of other sources of demand and supply.
    South Australia has a unique energy mix, with 40 per cent of its electricity generated by wind and a high uptake of rooftop solar panels. The reduction in demand, driven by rooftop cells and coupled with the low price that subsidised wind farms can bid into the electricity market, has shut down all the state’s coal-fired power plants. It now relies on three sources for power: wind, gas and coal-fired power imported from Victoria through two interconnectors that are its lifeline to the national electricity market.
    The fragility of South Australia’s electricity supply with the rise of renewables is an open secret.
    … The reason why a cascading failure of the remainder of the South Australia network occurred is still to be identified and is subject to further investigation.
    And that is the crucial question.
    What is not in doubt is the next problem, rebooting the system. And that cannot be done with asynchronous power. To get the system online again, the energy market operator ordered the gas-fired power generator at Pelican Point to fire up, and then set about restarting the system bit by bit.”

  36. This level of black out was not caused by the storm. On a normal grid at least 10% of the lines could be out with no network failure. This failure was the result of near zero reserve capacity so each failure took out the next weakest point. This should be a dire warning but clearly to you it is not and you are prepared to accept lame excuses by green zealots who are unwilling to see failure when it is written large in front of their face.

    This was a storm powerful enough to take down 22 or more electricity pylons…
    There is no state on earth which would not suffer a power blackout in those conditions.
    you may note that New York state, which suffered power outages in hurricane Sandy, is turning to renewables in microgrids to forestall complete power outages if they have another storm…

    • Those power pylons don’t look like the were made from strong enough steel, certainly look light weight to me. Were they all properly maintained? And as it appears you have no mechanical understanding of steel structures, once one falls, for whatever reason, places extreme stress on the others however connected, which eventually fail under continuous load (Drag on cables caused by wind and their mass). Also, the process of galvanizing actually weakens steel.

      • Most pylons are suspension towers whose main role is to support the cables weight. They can be built quite lightly and will fall over if the cable tension is not the same from both directions. Interspersed with these and at turns are strain towers that can stand unsupported with only cable tension from one direction.
        If the winds are strong enough to bring down a strain tower, it is inevitable that all the suspension towers up to the next strain tower will fall. It’s about economics – there’s nothing wrong or stupid with this and the practice is global in power transmission.
        The real point is that the grid should not collapse statewide in this situations. Blackout islands are inevitable but not a state.

      • Let’s be clear here those transmission towers would be well engineered and follow traditional transmission tower design-
        However the weather here is rated at a 1 in 50 yr event and was associated with mini cyclone/tornado conditions in that area and once you whip those wires around and bring down a tower or two there is a chain reaction so 22 towers in a specific area is painful but not the end of the world. OTOH the cost of gold plating a network to handle such infrequent freak weather events (why not 1 in a 100 yrs we might ask) can be cost prohibitive. In that sense we need to remember engineering goes hand in hand with economics.
        The real question is, why did such an isolated infrastructure failure cause a series of rolling shutdowns to black out a whole State, when such systems are designed not to do that and the finger is being firmly pointed now at a lack of resilience in a total network that has seen an incredible rise in management complexity, due to the increasing rollout of unreliable wind power. In that regard the re-powering of the majority of the system (in my metro Adelaide suburb taking 7 hours) needed traditional power in the form of local gas fired backup and interconnector coal fired power to stabilise the frequency before any fluctuating wind power could be added into the mix. On top of the massive spike in SA wholesale power price to $9000/MWhr in July the finger is being firmly pointed at the real costs of unreliable wind now.

      • “Analitik September 29, 2016 at 5:15 am”
        Correct. But when wind blows the lines are “pulling” the tower to one side shifting the load stress in a direction the tower was not designed to support, ie, not in compression. The cables and insulators act as “sails” shifting the load center and increasing load stress causing the tower to fail.

    • If true, that’s pretty dumb. Hopefully they’ll have plenty of diesel or gas generators on standby in case unreliables are -well, unreliable. But at least they are being “green”, right?

    • “There is no state on earth which would not suffer a power blackout in those conditions.”
      Not entirely correct. Yes, there would be power blackouts, but limited; not covering the entire state. That is the whole point of a properly designed network. But the mad rush to replace reliable base load power generation with (extremely) intermittent ‘renewable’ sources has left the state with an unsupportable mess.

      • “Where the transmission lines, managed by ElectraNet, came down is south of Port Augusta. In May this year South Australia closed its last coal-power station at the port. If those coal-power stations were still operating, they still would have dropped offline and seen the cascading failure that tripped the generations. Having those thermal generators there wouldn’t have helped at all.”
        St Judes storm UK 2013… not as severe and main power lines not impacted:
        “In addition to this, in severe weather conditions, trees can cause considerable disruption to electricity supplies, as was evidenced in the December 2013 storms, when more than 2 million customers lost their power supply at some point, and almost 16,000 homes were without electricity for more than 48 hours.”

      • If South Australia had more large scale dispatchable power sources it would be much easier for them to black-start the grid. Intermittents can not be used to black-start and windmills all run at slightly different frequencies further adding to the difficulties of black-starting a grid.

      • Griff is OK because he has his own, or is planning to install his own, solar “renewable” power source, if he does not move of course. He will find out soon enough that living in the UK power will become a luxury. I bet he never experienced the power black-outs in the UK in the 70’s. I sure did, and it was nothing to do with “climate change”.

      • I remember the 1970s outages very well Patrick – great excuse not to do your homework!
        Alas, I don’t think tomorrows youth will have that excuse.

      • “Griff September 30, 2016 at 7:43 am
        I remember the 1970s outages very well Patrick – great excuse not to do your homework!
        Alas, I don’t think tomorrows youth will have that excuse.”
        Homework? What homework did I not do Griff? BTW, tomorrows “yoof” will be too busy gawping in to their latest iPhone to be bothered about “climate change”.

  38. Amusing to-ing + fro-ing here.
    Yes – quite a lot of towers went down – but people *will* be asking questions as to why the entire grid went down.
    If you’ve a shed in the woods that needs power there is a point where running a series of extension reels from the nearest house for permanent electricity supply does not make sense and you have to have a generator (be it solar panels / inverter or chug-chug) and that needs to be proofed against the environment. It may well be that the weather is the sole cause here – but system resilience is going to be called into question.
    I hope that an honest and thorough engineering led evaluation of the failure is performed – the we’ll see – I do not though hold out much hope for that – Australia seems to have a penchant for letting activist (and idiot) pols gruesomely torture public policy for ideological ends and little concern for the real effects of their meddling.

  39. While we are discussing Oz, perhaps we should look at some other reliability risks of existing alt and existing energy like the effects of solar storms or EMP on photoelectric panels and grid, terrorism, and green (brown???) alternatives like microturbine power in sewage plants which are economical even in the US (see CPST) Money is going to be spent, we need to decide what is best and in what order to spend it … or not.

  40. At peak demand the UK relies on imported French nuclear-generated electricity for between 5% and 10% of demand. Just imagine what happens when the cables fry, like what happened with the cable between Tasmania and NSW.

    • yup…. resilience isn’t a strong point for renewables and pruning the nasty carbon belching baseload to within 2.54mm of its existence is a rational and sensible thing to do.
      Sh1t happens no doubt – but engineering is in large part about dealing with the possibility of bad things happening and applying a safety margin – something the “sustainability crew” usually have not got a clue about – being mostly public sector simple shoppers.

  41. Why don’t you show the pictures of the 22 massive powers that were bent to the ground. No coal electricity getting past that.

  42. Being spun as an example of what will happen to weather if we don’t adopt renewables to combat climate change. More garbage in the Australian media.

  43. No matter what the energy source was, the outage would have happened. Quite a number of towers were blown over throwing the off switch to save the network.

  44. This post makes some huge assumptions and the comments section just reaffirms each other with more and more outrageous comments. It was first and foremost a failure of the supply infrastructure, not the generation. For my full opinion feel free to view my post on this subject: https://obsqur.wordpress.com/

    • Errr, if all the windelecs (turbines) were off, because the wind was too strong, that is a failure of supply. If all the solar areays were operating at 20% because of thick cloud cover, that is a failure of supply. If so, then what you are demonstrating here is a (deliberate?) failure of cognitive ability.

  45. A dire warning to all counties. The UK is particularly vulnerable because of the supremely idiotic policies of Blair onwards. Ed Miliband with his act of parliament requiring an 80% reduction in the use of fossil fuels is well on the way to destroying the UK economy. The stupidity continues with indoctrinated civil servants being advised by people who do not know the first thing about climate history. If they were around today the people of the Medieval warm times as well as those of Little ice age times, to say nothing of those of the Viking colony in Greenland, would be laughing their heads off, or would they be crying? As usual it will be the poor who suffer most from these ridiculous policies. The continuing war against `carbon` as they ignorantly put it shows staggeringly defying ignorance. C02 is the stuff of life, food support and future of civilisation.

  46. The Blackout of Spring ’16 will remain a shared experience for collectivists throughout the state. People will survive a day or two without electricity. They will long have the memory of how they did their part to support the collective and protect the environment.

  47. Some great comments from people who would
    seem to have some electrical engineering knowledge who have my respect
    Unlike the Nick’s and Griff’s etc who seem to have got their grasp of electricity production
    from some Green guide book
    It did not take long for the usual Green zealots like Bandt etc to tell us that clearly the storm was due to climate change so the answer was to go for more renewables
    -completely ignoring the difference between synchronous and asynchronous power which suggests the idiotic target of 100 % renewables (at least not the sort Australlia can produce) is never going to be possible

  48. yeah truly crap weather
    the lines down were in melrose
    if PAgutta was still up n running theyd have been able to cut that feed out n resume
    or if Torrens island and pelican point were on full capacity not low as backup,
    and of course all the damned birdshredders were on downtime due to winds as well..
    im curious theyve NOT at all mentioned the state theyre in damages wise..there would have to be some damaged as they were in the zones hit fully all along the coast n pt Wakefield and inland behind the Clare valley as well as sth coastals.
    the hail damage to the solars will be interesting to see IF they manage to report;-) ha ha not holding breath on that.
    what MORE concerning is the sucking of Vic power
    as the followup storm hitting SA this evening has a seriously foul curl in it and its coming right into Victoria and forming an eye
    now , as much as I dont want storm damage n power out here
    should Vic cop it badly as it appears also
    then when OUR power goes to hell
    the SA drain on ours also ceases..again.and they go dark again, bigger time!
    and where once SA woulda backed us up?
    well thats not going to happen is it?

  49. I will be honest and say most of my comments are directed to Nick Stokes version of events.
    Sure there were grid inter-connector power lines down but the issue goes beyond this as wind turbines would be shut down too in very high winds. Lack of strategic State power plants added the finishing touches to ensure a virtual blackout trifecta. It should be noted that in effect these are fundamentally dependent events so it is absurd to say that it is an extreme trifecta; it only depends on the wind energy. Once one goes down then the mainly renewable route capability in a State has gone too with no local power offset.
    If the Govt subsidises only renewable competitors and forces customers to take all the output that these competitors can produce then I doubt whether I will be competitive no matter the circumstances. When the the Grid system was conceptualized there was little thought to the issues of renewables as a substantial power source.
    True, it does not help my case if I have to import coal. I don’t claim expertise but there is ample natural gas in SA at Moomba so a source of hydrocarbons is not a limiting factor. As Santos pipes this gas to Whyalla it is clear evidence of viability.
    Further is it not a conundrum and basically hypocritical that the SA Premier is trying to promote a nuclear source of energy and not gas (/coal) for the SA state? For example the MacArthur wind power facility only has a capacity utilization of 28% (it is not in SA but close enough for relevance). I suggest he does recognize the renewable problems but the usual political correctness prevents him stating it clearly.
    If wind was ever a most efficient source of energy (I am talking financial efficiency which includes capital input) one would think the Dutch would have been using it rather than replacing windmills with fossil fuels in the past. I guess sailing ships could also still be viable. Instead we subsidize some and make the whole system less efficient.
    I will leave it there as I get a bit irritated with so called scientists like Steffan (in Oz) clamouring that this situation is due to the CO2 climate change; will eliminating CO2 fix this issue? Why ask? I simply wonder why Oz funds these ostriches posing as scientists.

    • Apologies, I meant the MacArthur capacity utilization at 28% as an illustration of the poor capital efficiency comment later on.Need better eyesight for copy/paste!

  50. http://theconversation.com/what-caused-south-australias-state-wide-blackout-66268
    “So, what did cause South Australia’s blackout?
    Was it because of wind or wind turbines?
    It has everything to do with wind – because that’s what blew over the transmission lines. But it has nothing to do with South Australia’s wind turbines.
    Where the transmission lines, managed by ElectraNet, came down is south of Port Augusta. In May this year South Australia closed its last coal-power station at the port. If those coal-power stations were still operating, they still would have dropped offline and seen the cascading failure that tripped the generations. Having those thermal generators there wouldn’t have helped at all.
    A lot of generation capacity was lost because of the transmission failure. Because of that there was a voltage drop, which triggered safety protection measures that tripped the Haywood inter-connector that connects South Australia with Victoria. This could have happened in any state or with any generation technology.”

  51. While sympathy is in order for the inhabitants of South Australia suffering from a loss of electrical supply, the reality is that they vote in people who pursue these policies. Frankly it is the electorates who are to blame, although I appreciate there are those here who think such a conclusion is asinine.

  52. Uuuuhmmm, PBS NewsHour last night stated that the blackout was caused by an intense storm in the region.

  53. For the last time!
    Reliance on wind power had *everything* to do with the statewide SA shutdown.
    (Can’t believe how this meme of denial & dissembling has spread so pervasively.)
    Wind turbine production automatically shuts down in gale force winds.
    That is what led to massive capacity drop & runaway grid instability. Not the regional loss of transmission towers in the north. SA wind generation is well distributed…
    Once capacity failed catastrophically, the national grid automatically tripped to isolate SA, so as to protect eastern states from their asynchronous contagion.
    Here is the event, in all its techno-coloured ingloriousness…

    • That plot doesn’t seem complete. It is missing Snowtown, for example, which is a big one and seemed to play an important part in the recovery. And it seems that while some dropped out, a lot didn’t. As noted above, SA is a big place, and the storm was intense in places, but a lot of turbines on the periphery would have been highly productive.

      • Actually Snowtown was the one of the first to go offline. This link shows how it all went down:

        See the 4:59 minute mark of the video.

      • Here is the subtotal plot for SA wind production on 28th. All appear to have been braked offline at once.
        (I don’t know what happened to Snowton-1 on that other plot but its irrelevant to what happened…)
        Whether it was used to restart the grid or not (it was,) its still irrelevant to the statewide shutdown.
        SA wind capacity is listed @ 1580MW. Flailing along @ 70% (approx 1100MW) before the shit hit the fan.
        Reg Nelson, you are so right! Vic gov is committed to self-same SA suicide policies. Nice preview, this.
        No plans for gas turbine to replace Hazelwood… they conducted recent ‘community consultation’ exclusively in Nth. Victoria, asking for opinion on how to repatriate the L.V workforce and expressly forbidding any discussion of any alternate (fossil fuel) solution. Cheifly, by deceptively conflating efficient, modern gas-turbine generation with inchoate clean-coal tech.

      • “All appear to have been braked offline at once.”
        That looks a lot like a plot of the grid going down at 16.18 (link). They have to go offline if there is no line. And there seemed to be little loss of power before that event.

      • Philip, when you haven’t got a grid, you can’t send the power anywhere – wind, coal, gas or wombat powered treadmill. That’s what that shows.

    • To make matters worse, as the storm approached and the wind velocity increased, the majority of power generation shifted to wind, leaving only a small percentage of thermal (fossil fuel) power generation online when the blackout occurred.
      As others have pointed out, the wind power can’t be brought back online until the grid, powered by stable thermal energy, is up and running. So reliance on wind power can significantly increase the duration of the blackout, which IMHO is far more important than the actually cause — a five minute blackout is a nuisance, a twenty four hour (or more) blackout is a major public health and safety concern. The higher the reliance on unreliable renewable energy, the more serious, risky and dangerous this issue becomes.
      The Hazelwood coal power plant, which currently supplies the state of Victoria with 25% of its electricity, is likely to close in April 2017. How will this impact the price and availability of electricity in South Australia? And what if Victoria follows South Australia down the green garden path and can no longer export electricity to South Australia, what happens then? Where will they find the power to keep their useless desalination plant running?
      Besides being incredibly wasteful and detrimental to local economies, these green policies actually harm the environment, not help it. Exporting local coal to burn it in unregulated (or less regulated) countries, like China and India, actually causes more pollution and harm to the planet than good.

      • Jo Nova, Oz, post on South Australia black out- a grid on the edge…
        One comment ;
        ‘The government is responsible for energy security, not the power companies or
        the electricity market or Victoria or someone else. This demolition job done on South
        Australia’s previously reliable and adequate power supplies should see the resignation
        of the Premier who has presided over this devastating nonsense at huge expense. Is
        this why South Australia gets twice the GST of WA? A desalination plant no one ever
        needed? Total blackouts? No gain whatsoever for the people of South Australia in this
        Green energy and windmill nonsense. How are the people of South Australia better off
        in any way? It is an utter disgrace. Hot summers and stormy days come and go but
        destroying a state’s infrastructure for a political agenda is an utter disgrace and a
        betrayal of the very purpose of a government. Wetherill should accept his responsibility
        for this utter mess and resign.’
        Jo Nova:
        ‘Freaky weather month: While there are storms on the East Coast, In the next 24 hours
        Perth may register its coldest September on record (or things might be a tiny bit warmer
        than in September 1906. Did coal burning cause that cold spell?) Thanks to Chris
        Gillham for tracking this exciting race so closely. More on that tomorrow.’

    • There was a lot of wind power being used at the time of the failure – yes – but you have to realize that the lines that were wiped out by the tornadoes were the same lines carrying that wind energy to the main consumption hub in Adelaide 200km away. In the past those same lines also carried the power from Port Augusta’s coal power stations to Adelaide. The weather event that wiped out all four main north south transmission lines would have dropped massive quantities of generation offline instantly regardless of whether it was coal or wind in this scenario – causing the under frequency trip of the entire system.
      Wind was not the cause – but it suffered the same as coal would have because it used the same lines to transport energy to market that were knocked out……
      Pursuing a green energy policy is not the cause of the system failure. If anything it is because 4 transmission lines in different geographic locations all got taken out by the same super storm at the same time. That system design has been in place since the 1960s and has served us through the coal generation era well. If people want even more redundancy then they had better be prepared to pay for it at a transmission network level. Thats the political point to be argued – not whether the power was coming from green or brown energy sources!

      • SA’s generation network is well distributed east of Spencer Gulf and as you point out, Port Augusta has ceased generation. Remaining gas-turbine generation is centred around Adelaide. The output graph I posted above shows wind output constrained to between 60-70% of capacity throughout the day, a heroic effort given the wild gyrations in turbine generation.
        The only turbine that appears to have gone off line prior to 4pm. On the 28th., was Cathedral Rocks at Whyalla. That is to say, generation capacity was maintained up until the time the grid tripped out. I repost the spaghetti graph of SA wind power in the hope that it conveys the full chaotic state of SA wind generation during that storm, in all its techno-coloured ingloriousness.

  54. A good grammar flame war could fix ALL the power problems of in South Australia if ONLY we could harness the incalculable Hiroshimas worth of megajoules to a steam generator.

  55. Nick Stokes’ interpretation of SA wind production on 28th. ; “And there seemed to be little loss of power before that event.” So why did the network go down Nick? If there was no significant loss of power prior to the mass shutdown? Can’t possibly have been the transmission line loss in that case!
    P.S I noticed your selective posting (above^^^) of 15 year old wholesale state pool pricing. From the first few years of the NEM, before SA even had *one single megawatt* of wind power installed.
    Indeed at that time, pre 2003, there was only *one* single wind turbine in the whol state, in Cooper Pedy!
    You’re one disingenuous *bastard Nicholas Stokes.
    (Ed note; term of endearment in Australia.)

  56. Here is the official statement from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO),
    “The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) advises that at 1618hrs Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) on Wednesday, 28 September 2016, a severe storm damaged transmission and distribution electricity assets in South Australia, leading to a state-wide power outage. Initial investigations have identified the root cause of the event is likely to be the multiple loss of 275 kilovolt (kV) power lines during severe storm activity in the state.These transmission lines form part of the backbone of South Australia’s power system and support supply and generation north of Adelaide. The reason why a cascading failure of the remainder of the South Australia network occurred is still to be identified and is subject to further investigation.”
    So there you have it,, enjoy your dose of reality…
    [yes but you ignore: “The reason why a cascading failure of the remainder of the South Australia network occurred is still to be identified and is subject to further investigation.” Case not closed. /mod]

  57. “So why did the network go down Nick?”
    As spelt out above, because it couldn’t maintain synchronisation. It was a system-initiated shutdown. A likely consequence of 22 pylons blowing over.
    “your selective posting (above^^^) of 15 year old wholesale state pool pricing”
    For *** sake, read it. Lil Fella said SA prices were the highest. I said, yes and so they were before wind. Wally said, not so, and so I posted 15 yo figures, specifying that they were from about 2000.
    I’ll excuse your illiteracy.

    • I’ll see your ‘likely consequence’ and raise you an asynchronous-overload certitude.
      Your 15 yr old price graph. Yes, I did actually misread your intent. To which year were you referring?
      The second, third, or fourth cheapest place-holder year?

  58. A definitive answer to the likes of Griff is probably something like this (below). Not my answer, but an engineer’s.
    “It is too early provide definite analysis, but while the storm did destroy some 275 kV transmission towers serving the north of the state, that does not explain why Adelaide and the rest went down. It seems that a diminished proportion of conventional generating capacity has meant that the ancillary services of voltage and frequency control provided by these has been depleted, and when tested yesterday, failed, so that all circuits tripped out.” — Ian Hore-Lacy.

      • A storm should not normally take down a whole country’s grid and South Australia is larger area than most countries. Having said that :- a single monkey took down the Kenyan electricity grid. How often we’re willing to let our grid black out depends upon how resilient we make it. South Australia let the greens destroy their grid resilience.

      • mark4asp said:
        “A storm should not normally take down a whole country’s grid and South Australia is larger area than most countries.”
        Go to google maps. Switch to earth view. Have a look at South Australia. It’s mostly desert. It only has 1.6 million people. They nearly all live in one small corner at the south east tip of the state.
        It just got hit by a 1 in 50 year storm. There were tornadoes, a relatively rare occurrence in Australia.
        Lets face it. The vast majority of people cheering on the claims that this was the result of renewable energy policy could write everything they know about South Australia, this storm, and the layout and design of the grid there, on the back of a postage stamp. A small one.

  59. One good thing that will come out of this – with all due sympathy for those in SA who suffered from the blackout – is that there will be a full enquiry into the circumstances. We can only hope that – even allowing for politicians to put their own special spin on the outcome – the technical facts of the matter will not be able to be suppressed and some sensible conclusions can be drawn from them.
    My hope is that it will become clear that there is a maximum practical limit for the proportion of renewables that can be included in a grid if it is to be stable and reliable under all but extreme circumstances. The messy effects of the variable voltage and frequency of wind, and of local neighbourhood grid difficulties caused by solar installations feeding input into a system that was designed for output, are such that all sensible authorities will call a halt to their enthusiasm for intermittent renewable feeds. (Yeah, I’m a dreamer, I know.)
    Those who are unclear about the need for frequency and voltage stability in our supply should watch this Youtube clip about the British national grid and the “East Enders effect”.

    As a popular TV soap finishes, 1,500,000 kettles are switched on within a couple of minutes (to make tea, obviously), and the grid has to suddenly find another 3GW, which comes from the under-Channel French interconnect (nice clean reliable nuclear power) and a pumped storage hydro in Wales.

    • Here’s a similar account, Bob, of how the grid deals when everyone switches on after ‘Strictly’ (You should have this in the US – a show where ex-govt members do ballroom dancing!)
      but read down to the end where head of electricity systems operations at the National Grid explains that its just as easy to handle load changes from renewables…
      He also says “”I don’t see an upper limit to how much wind we can accommodate [on the grid]”, says Williams, who also notes that 86% of payments to companies to stop generating when the grid is getting overloaded go to coal and gas, not wind”
      “described the recent warnings of blackouts made by energy company bosses as scaremongering. “We have always had periods when there is a bit of a crunch and we have managed that,” he says. “People talk about winters of discontent and blackouts, but what we are talking about in the worst-case scenario is a few half-hour periods a year. It’s most likely we’d reduce the frequency a bit, so lights would dim a little and hairdryers would be a little less hot. Most people would not notice.” “

  60. Yes it’s certainly kicked up a political $#*+storm looking for answers-
    and if the wind up north was strong enough to blow down transmission lines, London to a brick it was more than strong enough to see the wind farms up north shut down automatically and destabilise the grid but we’ll see.
    The other side of the unreliables coin is solar and that’s been forgotten in all the hue and cry, so with a 2100W solar feed in system on my garage roof and the inverter readout inside I happened to be working inside that day and can report that at midday, overcast and raining, it was putting out a grand total of 55watts and the story would have been the same right across the metro area and much of the State. Furthermore just before the blackout before 4pm it had shut down completely due to not enough solar insolation as the sun sinks above all that cloud. When you own one of these reshiftable power bill units due to the ridiculous 54c/kwhr the Gummint has mandated lucky owners should be anointed with, you know how useless and unreliable solar power is without the ability to store it and deliver it when it’s really needed. Bear in mind here SA is an ideal Mediterranean climate and that sort of shutdown throughout winter and on wet overcast days when folks are beginning to knock off work for the peak evening power consumption period, says it all.
    Whatever the final outcome of the cause/s of the SA blackout, it has at last made lots of ignorant folks recognise that their lifestyle at the flick of a switch doesn’t run on emotion but rational, scientific maths, physics and chemistry. I can tell you it’s come as quite a shock to a few and I’m enjoying their light bulb moment immensely.

  61. A man for all seasons is our Senator X, who was a big fan of ‘renewables’ before the State blackout but is now a convert to ‘base load renewables’ it seems-
    ‘Independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon also attempted to link the blackout to renewable energy, saying “This has not been sensible, it has been reckless — we have relied too much on wind rather than base load renewables”.’

  62. Some people are going to be very upset about this loss of power in South Australia. A fertility clinic has lost all of their embryos due to the power failure, and their generator which failed afterwards. Although, how can an institute such as a fertility clinic be so careless as to not know the state of their backup equipment? …http://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/sa-weather-embryos-destroyed-at-flinders-medical-centre-after-generator-fails-in-blackout/525107

  63. what a joke SA is…the ONLY way to ensure industry has uninterrupted power supply is through coal fired power stations. Alinta had to close its Port Augusta power station due to squeezed margins-little wonder cause the pollies made it too hard for them to operate. Instead the pollies gave into the greens (hypocrits) for green energy…pfft. The consumer is paying more for greener power cause they’re subsidising the transition-a massive con job. Meanwhile the community of Leigh Creek will become a ghost town, the workers may get other jobs-where, anyone knows?, & Port Augusta has many numbers without a job with the power station shutting. SA politicians are societal & economic vandals & utterly clueless. Why would you import power when you have the capacity to make it? Goodness me it does not make sense at all. SA with the car industry shut down & now this farce must ask itself (electorate) did we deserve this? Well you voted these incompetent parasites in so I guess you do. Ash Sarah Hanson Young what the Greens propose to fix the power problem, the states dire economic situation & job creation strategy! More political hyperbole on her part for sure but no substance. Better move interstate cause you’ll end up living in a cave (thats what the poliies want after all). Think about it……..

    • Where the transmission lines, managed by ElectraNet, came down is south of Port Augusta. In May this year South Australia closed its last coal-power station at the port. If those coal-power stations were still operating, they still would have dropped offline and seen the cascading failure that tripped the generations. Having those thermal generators there wouldn’t have helped at all.

  64. The engineering report identified this very vulnerability earlier in the year. Here’s the full report: https://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Security-and-reliability/-/media/CACEB2122362436DAC2CDD6E8D3E70D0.ashx
    The points are quite simple:
    – the stability of the grid, especially frequency-wise, requires either continuous connection to out-of-State synchronous generation OR substantial in-State synchronous generation contributions.
    – frequency fluctuations cause auto-load-shedding and ‘islanding’ of entire grid sections in order to protect that all-important consistency of frequency
    – a grid cannot be started from asynch sources. Sync has to be spun up and stable before async can be carefully re-introduced, and if care is not taken in this process, the auto-shedding system simply trips out the culprits once more.
    – too many fluctuations can ‘ring’ up and down the grid as shutdowns themselves cause fluctuations, which cause further trip-outs. This is the classic cascade.
    – the report identifies re “Over frequency generation shedding (OFGS)
    A non-credible contingency event that trips both circuits of the Heywood Interconnector at times when there is high export from SA to Victoria is very unlikely, but would result in a rise in frequency within the SA power system and potentially lead to uncoordinated loss of generation. At present there is no specific emergency control scheme in place to maintain frequency within the FOS followings such an event.
    Of course, the non-credible contingency event occurred – the technical term is, I believe Murphy’s Law.
    The situation SA finds itself in is that populist roll-out of renewables via incentives, subsidies etc., has quite simply out-paced the capabilities of the electrical ecosystem considered as a whole.
    Failure to consider all aspects of an ecosystem is something the greenish have always warned against….

    • No no you’re conflating things and we just need this woman’s solution that’s all-
      “It is true that SA doesn’t have baseload power — we no longer have coal, we don’t have hydro, and nuclear is a glow-in-the-dark dream — and renewables are a more unreliable source.
      But the political chatter around ‘baseload’ is too often constricted to a narrow range of options. It is a code word for slowing the switch to renewables and keeping faithful ol’ coal on the go.
      There are still plenty of questions to be answered. Why such a critical piece of infrastructure failed and what we have to do to stop it happening again. Why the whole state became a national joke, languishing in the darkness. Why someone I know had to desperately find a generator for a woman on a ventilator; why phones failed.
      Once we know all those answers, though, we need a solution and that solution is not to step backwards from renewables, but to work out how to make them work better. Because it is possible to get baseload from renewables; or it will be one day once the storage technology catches up.”

    • Thank you Wayne, & there you have it. The network has evolved with critically decreased robustness as a direct consequence of move to asynchronous generation along with loss of synchronous system inertia at strategic points within the network. Although major events are few, in the past (early 2000’s), SA has recovered quickly from load shedding of up to 1100MW!
      The pylons had good reason to fall over but the grid was preordained to fail.

    • I did think William’s suggestion in the comments section said it best Prime Minister-
      “Just subsidize battery back up to rooftop solar and this issue for most of us just disappears. My entire extended family would go off grid tomorrow and there would be millions like us. Who needs your network, not us. Come on innovation PM get with technology and solve the issue”
      and howsabout a free Tesla sports car for me while you’re about it PM?

  65. This article: SA Blackout – The questions for the regulators, contradicts windmill apologists:

    In 2004 three of the four Bayswater units (4 × 660MW) tripped off due to a transformer explosion, causing the instantaneous loss of 1,971MW of generation, and yet the grid continued to operate, with 1500MW of load being instantaneously switched off by automatic under-frequency load shedding switches. As AEMO reported in the subsequent power system incident report “This automatic load disconnection together with the combined response from the remaining generating units successfully controlled the power system frequency and prevented a major power system collapse.”
    So, why was the SA region of the grid not able to ride through the loss of 700MW of generation? Or as AEMO’s media statement expressed it: “The reason why a cascading failure of the remainder of the South Australia network occurred is still to be identified and is subject to further investigation.”

    • The state power operator says renewables not the issue in the second sentence of that article.
      Clearly the government is taking a premature stand. A wee bit of investigation would be helpful. Too late to stop the article above or the thousands of wasted words beneath.

  66. The Eastern states like NSW and Queensland have had storms and power outages but never a whole state. The storms were only part of the problem, the other part being green ideology that does not take into account technical limitations.

  67. And in 2016 they’ve got even more concerns-
    The Northern Power Station (NPS) performs an important transmission network voltage control service at the Davenport 275 kV substation in the Upper North of SA. Closure of NPS will remove this voltage control service.
    ElectraNet initiated system studies to identify potential network adequacy and security limitations resulting from the withdrawal of NPS. Those studies, and a review of past operational experience, have revealed the following limitations under certain credible demand and generation scenarios: 
    Reactive power margin – at times of high Olympic Dam demand, moderate to high system demand, and low wind generation in the Mid North of SA, reactive power reserve margins may not be met at the Davenport 275 kV connection point. 
    Over voltage – operating the Davenport 275 kV connection point voltage above 1.05 pu (which occurs for the majority of the time to mitigate against the risk of voltage collapse at Olympic Dam) is expected to result in over-voltage at times of low wind generation in the Mid North of SA for the loss of the Olympic Dam load. 
    Voltage collapse – for N-1-135 conditions the system would be at risk of voltage collapse for certain operating conditions. Further, switching a 50 MVAr reactor into service at Davenport at times of low wind generation in the Mid North of SA may cause a voltage collapse. 
    Reduced wind farm output – the combined output of the two Eyre Peninsula wind farms is reduced by 20 MW (by way of an intra-regional generation dispatch limit) when NPS is not in service.
    ElectraNet analysis shows that the withdrawal of NPS will create challenges for transmission network voltage control in the Upper North and the Eyre Peninsula regions of SA. These challenges will arise for a range of system demand levels at times of low wind generation in the Mid North of SA, and also for any N-1 condition in the Upper North.”

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