Dash for Gas: "Green" South Australian Government Throws in the Towel on Renewables


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The South Australian Government, the world’s green energy crash test dummy, appears to have thrown in the towel. In the wake of economically damaging outages and vigorous complaints from major employers, the South Australian government are now attempting to reassure industry and domestic users that there is sufficient fossil fuel capacity to cover their needs, and claim to have stepped up efforts to secure more gas supplies.

Don’t accept power blackouts as new norm, says Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg

Renewing attacks on SA’s world-leading renewable electricity generation — 41 per cent — Mr Frydenberg said transition must be managed without sacrificing energy security and affordability.

“When it comes to energy security, South Australia is the canary in the coal mine and the canary is looking pretty sick right now,” he told The Advertiser.

“While the (latest blackout’s) cause is under investigation, it is clear is that South Australia was again unable to keep the lights on when disconnected from the national electricity grid.

“This isn’t good enough, and South Australians should not accept this as the new norm. They deserve better.

State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the incident had demonstrated that SA had more than sufficient thermal (gas-powered) generation to meet the 1400 megawatt demand at the time.

“Last night proved we have enough thermal generation to manage our own system,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“ … We (SA) are basically a very good, diversified electricity generator. The problem we have is we don’t have a cheap, available amount of gas.

“I’d reassure South Australians that, fundamentally, our system is sound.”

Mr Koutsantonis said reliable and affordable gas was critical to fuel generation in Australia for decades and highlighted national reforms, pushed by him and Mr Frydenberg, to boost supply.

“We’ve got the most efficient thermal gas-fired generator in the country here in South Australia, at Pelican Point, and the way the national electricity market is structured it’s not efficient for them to have the entire thing running all the time,” he said.

Read more: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/dont-accept-power-blackouts-as-new-norm-says-federal-energy-minister-josh-frydenberg/news-story/163e0eb9398bda57ca3cb4b60d4f1163

South Australian Farmers appear far from convinced by Mr. Koutsantonis’ assurances. South Australia has scorching hot, dry Summers. A few hours, let alone a few days without irrigation, can potentially destroy millions of dollars worth of farm produce. As the height of Summer approaches, South Australian farmers are not taking any chances.

SA irrigators, farmers turn to generators for electricity stability

Irrigators and farmers are buying diesel generators to secure their power supply, as price and stability issues continue to plague South Australia’s energy grid, industry experts have said.

In recent months the state has suffered widespread blackouts and electricity spot price spikes.

Susie Green, head of the state’s apple and pear grower and cherry grower associations, said some farmers were now investing in generators for stability.

“More and more I’m hearing that people are looking at forms of back-up generation for irrigation pumps and all different systems around their orchards,” she said.

“Particularly as we come into the warmer months there’s certainly concern about security of power supply.

“The last thing we’d want is for the power to go out and not be able to pack cherries in the week before Christmas, so it’s really providing a guarantee that we can continue operating.”

Read more (h/t JoNova): http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-03/sa-farmers-turn-to-generators-for-electricity-stability/8089996

It is good to see South Australia’s green government finally giving a little ground on renewables, however reluctantly.

But the damage to the South Australian economy and reputation, and damage to the willingness of big employers like BHP to invest and create desperately needed jobs, may take longer to recover.

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December 5, 2016 4:45 am

From the last quote:
“Irrigators and farmers are buying diesel generators to secure their power “.
I’m envisioning a row of diesel generators back dropped by a line of idle/broken/burning windmills. Wow, what a “green” solution to the AGW “problem”!

Quinn the Eskimo
Reply to  MikeH
December 5, 2016 5:42 am

In Spain the solar subsidies were so high one guy ran diesel generators to claim the subsidy, and got caught because he was doing it at night.

Reply to  Quinn the Eskimo
December 5, 2016 10:59 am

I heard the generators were powering lamps shining onto the solar panels, as the solar subsidy payments were higher than the cost of running the generators.

Reply to  MikeH
December 5, 2016 6:55 am

Actually, it is–the exhaust from those diesel generators will add CO2 to the atmosphere which is greening the earth and has caused a ~15% increase in foodstuff production world-wide.
I’d say that’s about as green as you can get!
Thank you, diesel (and all other forms of fossil fuels).
And as far as the “A” in AGW? Well, there’s no scientific evidence CO2 is causing that.

Reply to  RockyRoad
December 5, 2016 9:45 am

Portable diesels are notorious NOx and CO hogs. You know, real pollution.
No, they aren’t good for the environment at all.

Reply to  RockyRoad
December 5, 2016 5:25 pm

CO2 is plant food. Scientific fact. End of debate. Period. Full stop.

Reply to  MikeH
December 5, 2016 9:18 am

The farmers ought to bill the diesel generators to the state.

Nigel S
Reply to  MikeH
December 5, 2016 11:48 am

Standby diesel is the dirty little seceret of the UK grid. Guardian not happy, to be fair no sane person should be either although not for the mad reasons that exercise the grauns.

Reply to  MikeH
December 5, 2016 3:23 pm

It was up in the irrigation country of the Riverland that a wind turbine caught on fire several years ago. The local CFS fire brigade was called. They had a look, and said, ‘let it burn, we cannot put out a fire up that high.’ They stayed and put out fire on the ground from burning debris So your comment is not far from the truth!.

Reply to  James.
December 6, 2016 5:43 am

they do that this yr and the losses are going to be huge
good rains =lots of flammable long grass just waiting
and as for the secure/affordable gas?
yeah we DO have it
it gets sold for a pittance to China mostly
while we pay 90c or so per litre for lpg for cars/trucks /buses
$130 and rising for lpg bottled gas for rural homes
and are being bullshitted that Vic gas supplies have maybe 10yrs left
just after proposed banning fracking and all onshore drilling
amazing timing
place is full of coal but they are shutting coal plants down
prices soaring and now the turd of a pm is talking carbon tax on emitters ie power gen
not a carbon tax he says?
PM needs flushing!!

December 5, 2016 4:46 am

Hmmm… in technologically advanced India they use solar powered irrigation pumps…
And it is still quite clear that a storm which takes out power lines would have done it whether there was coal or gas at the end of the line…
(And has anyone explained what flattened those pylons? I have never seen one bent like that in a report from even huurricanes/typhoons)

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 4:54 am

The wind companies had a choice of building the transmission lines at a cost of $3 million or $1 million per kilometre, they went for maximum profit.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 5:19 am

In technologically advanced India they sh1t in the street.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Me
December 5, 2016 10:54 am

Didn’t know they were that advanced. Later on, some members of the sewer caste collect it and sell it for cooking fuel purposes? Creates jobs, at least.

Reply to  Me
December 14, 2016 4:10 pm

As they do in most British towns on Friday & Saturday ‘nights out’,
Ah the sophistication of the west…..we can show Johnny foreigner a thing or two.

Reply to  1saveenergy
December 14, 2016 6:55 pm

Funny, before “eastern culture” was so widely glorified in Britannia, ’50s-’60s, defecating and urinating in public was a crime. Then scumbags like you came along. Good job. You are elevating the human race with your leftarded sh*t? Why do you keep using electricity? Gas? Plumbing? Eating imported foods out of season? Why do you continue to live and consume at a 1st world level? In India people urinating and defecating “in public”, along street gutters/in alleys/in fields/in streams/ in rivers/ in lakes is rather common, hence the high incidence of water borne disease in what is called a “1st World” nation. Are you actually trying to equate soccer hooligans and rowdy drunks to that? Really? How sad.

Peter Morris
Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 5:21 am

Hey remember that scene in Back to the Future II when you went flying through the courthouse? That was pretty funny.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 5:46 am

Griff: Into conspiracy theories now? Sounds like the 9/11 doubters in America.
India has solar powered irrigation pumps because they can’t afford real ones. They also already have diesel generators because the power system in India is the pits.

Reply to  Reality check
December 5, 2016 12:01 pm

I had to laugh at 9/11 conspiracy theorists, too. I could not imagine such a load of drivel being accepted as truth. Crashes in which the evidence was incinerated were not subjected to the mandatory FAA analysis, but somehow withing days people that we had never heard of were magically identified as being responsible. They had even trained to learn to fly Cessnas ! 🙂 Wowsers boys. Sure they were not overqualified to manoevre commercial carriers through restricted airspace to prechosen targets ? ROFLMAO

Reply to  Reality check
December 5, 2016 1:12 pm

Actually the pilots had attracted attention, but the anti-profiling walls between FBI, CIA and other agencies meant they weren’t put on lists to be kept out of the country. The muscle men came from Saudi Arabia, so didn’t have US paper trails.
And the pilots also practiced on airliner simulators. Just flying a plane isn’t all that difficult, especially with autopilot to get you near your target. Landing and taking off are the hard parts.
The female FBI agent whose suspicions they aroused drew to her uninterested superior’s attention the fact that, according to their instructors, the men only cared about flying, not taking off or landing.

Reply to  Reality check
December 5, 2016 4:41 pm

“India has solar powered irrigation pumps because they can’t afford real ones.”
This isn’t entirely correct. In Australia, farmers often had wind-powered water pumps. It is simply not worth the cost to run power out to every little bore. The intermittent nature of the wind supply is unimportant – it simply pumps when available, into a large water tank. The tank is usually hoiked up high, so gravity provides enough water pressure when you want to use it.

Reply to  Reality check
December 5, 2016 10:35 pm

Sorry, but your reference to wind-powered water pumps is irrelevant. Reticulation is not the same as irrigation, or else irrigation is nothing like the gravity fed trickle you seem to mistake it for. You must distinguish between intermittent-flow stock water and programmed irrigation water, some of which has to be delivered 24/7 at many thousands of gallons per hour at a specific pressure to suit the particular irrigation system. Let’s see a squeaky old Southern Cross windmill or a solar powered pump do that.
Perhaps Griff can enlighten us as to just how a solar pump can deliver water at axial-flow pump volumes or centrifugal pump pressures around the clock for months on end. During one drought two of my electric irrigation pumps ran non-stop for 6 months before we stopped them for routine maintenance for a quarter hour, then they ran for another 6 months straight. During that time they pumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of water without a hiccup thanks to the miracle of reliable grid electricity.
Don’t forget that modern irrigation is a time-critical operation with a rigid rotational schedule. It cannot be left to the vagaries of the sun or wind.

Darrin Smith
Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 6:08 am

Actually this recent blackout shows quite clearly to anyone who has been following the details that the full state blackout was completely a renewable generation issue. This time around the Victorian interconnnect was also lost (220M of 1150MW ~ 20%) but since only about 100MW of the generation at the time was from wind.The other 70% of fossil fuel generation in the state kept everything in sync, over half the state lit up, allowed power to start being switched back on within 15m and normal service was restored quicker than they even got things restarted in the previous blackout. This recent blackout shows what kind of thing most likely would have happened if they had had as sensible amount of wind power (<10%) at the time on the previous blackout.

Reply to  Darrin Smith
December 5, 2016 4:44 pm

It shows what things will be like in the future. Lots of practice restarting the state’s power system from a blackout.

Les Francis
Reply to  Darrin Smith
December 6, 2016 2:00 am

The backup interconnector from Victoria is powered from the Hazelwood power station – brown coal.
The Victorian government in collaboration with the Greens have declared that the Hazelwood plant will be closed down on April 1st next year.
Let’s see how the South Australians do without that backup after April one.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 6:23 am

I don’t know if Griff is being dump, or merely repeating stuff he doesn’t understand again.
1) Parts of India are technologically advanced. Much of it isn’t.
1a) It’s the parts that aren’t, that are forced to use solar to power irrigation.
2) If SA had reliable power, it wouldn’t have mattered that the interconnects went down.

DD More
Reply to  MarkW
December 5, 2016 7:58 am

And it doesn’t help if you are technologically advanced, if you are economically stupid.
“We’ve got the most efficient thermal gas-fired generator in the country here in South Australia, at Pelican Point, and the way the national electricity market is structured it’s not efficient for them to have the entire thing running all the time,” he said.
So you planned on using the most uneconomic source 1st and the best source last?

Reply to  MarkW
December 5, 2016 11:23 am

“So you planned on using the most uneconomic source 1st and the best source last?”
That’s about it..
Mandate and subsidies the use of un-reliables, making the reliable gas plants uneconomic as it has to ramp up and down.
Really is pretty dumb, isn’t it.
Thing is.. they don’t seem to realise that it is THEIR FAULT.

Reply to  MarkW
December 5, 2016 12:04 pm

If the government mandates something and it doesn’t work it is never their fault. 🙂

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 6:26 am

“Technologically advanced India” is pursuing nuclear power after decades of restrictions imposed by other countries. They have 6 reactors under construction and another 30 in the planning stages.
The problem with India is that they decided to create reactors that could use their vast supplies of Thorium and thus never have their nuclear plants controlled by outsiders by denying them uranium, which they do not possess internally. They are banking on Russian built fast reactors, but that strategy is now totally obsolete with the advent of molten salt reactors, which not only can burn Thorium but can extract such a large percentage of energy from uranium that one can extract uranium from the oceans (essentially an infinite supply with respect to human energy requirements ) and still have insignificant fuel costs. They will, like the rest of the world, shift to molten salt reactors for their energy needs. Much safer than wind or solar and cheaper than the cheapest fossil fuels available and tons cheaper than unreliable wind and solar. They also can load follow.
The preferred fuel for a molten salt reactor is uranium, not Thorium, which presents dangers for proliferation thru its creation of plutonium. Wind and solar and all other forms of power production are doomed : economically, environmentally, etc. Those pushing other forms of no carbon power generation are ignorant and dangerous.

Reply to  arthur4563
December 5, 2016 9:25 am

You are fighting the good fight, arthur4563.

Reply to  arthur4563
December 5, 2016 11:36 am

Except that uranium is much rarer than thorium. Or maybe you got that first sentence of the last paragraph backwards? Just asking.
By the way Kirk Sorenson said in one speech that the engineers in India admitted to him that they went down the wrong path trying to use thorium in existing designs. It was a bad idea all around.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  arthur4563
December 6, 2016 7:12 am

India has lots of coal. After burning coal, there is ‘concentrated uranium’ in it, already pre-powdered and sitting at surface level. It takes a lot of energy to separate the isotopes, but having a nuke to do that means you can carry on indefinitely.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 6:57 am

Easy, Griff–they probably designed those pylons with the same lack of understanding they used when designing their overall energy mix. Stupid people can have far-reaching consequences.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 7:38 am

“And has anyone explained what flattened those pylons”
They were hit by the blades that came of the windmills. 🙂

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 7:57 am

comment image
“(And has anyone explained what flattened those pylons? I have never seen one bent like that in a report from even huurricanes/typhoons)”
Possibly,( gasp!), the wind?
( in my mind I’m recounting the movie “Slum dog millionaire”)

richard verney
Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 11:08 am

It was a new power line installed solely for the purposes of connecting the windfarm to the grid. It was built too low spec since the full cost of a high spec design would drastically push up the price of energy.
Here in the UK, about 25% of the electricity bill is to fund new power lines to connect windfarms to the grid. In the UK, electricity bills would be halved but for the costs associated with the transformation towards useless green energy.
The material point is that if these wuindfarms had not been built the power line would not have collapsed since it would not have been there.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 12:30 pm

“I have never seen one bent like that in a report from even huurricanes/typhoons”
Precisely how many destroyed pylons have you personally inspected in the aftermath of huurricanes/typhoons [sic], Griff?
Come on and tell us, don’t be shy!

Philip Schaeffer.
Reply to  catweazle666
December 6, 2016 7:47 pm

Well, please do tell us how often these pylons get flattened. What’s that? You don’t have a clue? Why can no one ever answer that question? If the storm in question wasn’t that bad, and the pylons weren’t designed well, I’m sure you’ll be able to give many examples of them going down and causing blackouts…
Still waiting for any of you who are so sure about this to actually provide some evidence.
Thread after thread, and none of you can answer. For the bonus round to get your extra points, both fail to answer and demand the answer to some other question. Have at it.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 3:26 pm

There was a tornado as part of the storm which took it down. Also the structures in Australia seem to be taller than US high tension lines. This might just be a function of higher voltage though, I may not be comparing apples with apples so to speak.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 5:20 pm

Griff December 5, 2016 at 4:46 am
… (And has anyone explained what flattened those pylons? I have never seen one bent like that in a report from even huurricanes/typhoons)

Here’s a link to a similar example in Russia.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 5:38 pm

Bad design, the insulators should have broken, dropping the cable to the ground not pulling the whole tower over.

Reply to  Griff
December 5, 2016 9:53 pm

> And has anyone explained what flattened those pylons?
Here’s a recent fall from Ocotillo California, apparently from the regulator allowing a destructive overspeed event that broke a blade off the hub.

Reply to  Ric Werme
December 5, 2016 9:55 pm

And, of course, this classic from 8 years ago.

Reply to  Griff
December 10, 2016 4:26 am

Hi Griff, I take it that, being so concerned re renwable energy, you have actually read the AEMO preliminary report. Just to refresh your memory this contains the following statements.
Generation initially rode through the faults, but at 16:18, following an extensive number of faults in a short period, 315 MW of wind generation disconnected (one group at 16:18:09, a second group at 16:18:15), also affecting the region north of Adelaide.
The uncontrolled reduction in generation resulted in increased flow on the main Victorian interconnector (Heywood) to make up the deficit. This resulted in the Heywood Interconnector overloading. To avoid damage to the interconnector, the automatic-protection mechanism activated, tripping the interconnector. In this event, this resulted in the remaining customer load and electricity generation in SA being lost (referred to as a Black System).
So whilst it was a difficult period it was the lack of human control on the wind farms that cuased the actual collapse

December 5, 2016 4:51 am

That is one statement I strongly disagree with, South Australians have voted for Greens and Labor for years now and they are getting exactly what they voted for.

Reply to  Mjw
December 5, 2016 4:56 am

I wonder how the Greens and Labor are going to do in the next election… should be interesting to watch. When are the next elections in South Australia?

Reply to  SMC
December 5, 2016 3:37 pm

I am sorry to say that I do not have a lot of faith in the electors in South Australia. The last time that the Liberals won was in 1993, after the State Bank, bankrupted the state. Next elections are due in 2018 I believe. The state is on 4 year terms.

Reply to  Mjw
December 5, 2016 5:38 am
Coach Springer
December 5, 2016 4:51 am

When you don’t deliver the power, people die too. With green, it is necessary to downplay the concept of spinning reserve. Because that concept is oriented in providing whatever is demanded. That is not a green goal.

Reply to  Coach Springer
December 5, 2016 9:33 pm

If you die, the Greens see that as a good fertilizer…

December 5, 2016 5:11 am

Spinning reserve is mainly for large single producers. If a 500MW generator trips out then you need instant reserve of 500MW
If a wind turbine dies you need 1 to 7MW of spinning reserve.
If a wind farm trips you need 100MW
If the wind dies it does not die instantly over a large area and can also be predicted. Warm start will cover this – much cheaper!

Reply to  sergeiMK
December 5, 2016 4:57 pm

“… it does not die instantly over a large area…”
Except that in the SA statewide blackout, it did.

Philip Schaeffer.
Reply to  Hivemind
December 6, 2016 7:49 pm

Lack of wind caused it to “die instantly over a large area”? Evidence please.

Johann Wundersamer
December 5, 2016 5:13 am


Warren Latham
December 5, 2016 5:20 am

Thank you Eric.
Here below is a moving picture, courtesy of a previous post from “vukcevic”.
Yet another nail in the coffin of the eco-tards who waste our money.

Reply to  Warren Latham
December 5, 2016 6:33 am

That’s a smokin’ hot video. Looks like another one in background producing more CO2
Those “bad boys” make a better show than fireworks of giant sparklers! lol

Eugene WR Gallun
Reply to  Warren Latham
December 5, 2016 8:32 am

Warren Latham
Having viewed the video — WOW!!!! — A perfect smoke spiral!
Sad to think that when all the windmills are gone we will never see such again.
Eugene WR Gallun

richard verney
Reply to  Warren Latham
December 5, 2016 11:13 am

I guess that is in Denmark.
If that had happened in Spain, there would have been a serious risk of a major forest fire since the nearby land would have been so dry.

Reply to  richard verney
December 5, 2016 11:38 am

India, at one point a piece comes flying of nearly hit the guys.

Reply to  richard verney
December 5, 2016 1:30 pm

Tamil Nadu state – per title.

richard verney
Reply to  richard verney
December 5, 2016 6:45 pm

I should have looked at the title!!!

Reply to  JohnMacdonell
December 5, 2016 5:49 am

Experts always say things like that. It’s what they’re paid to. They’re also constantly surprised by everything, even things the commoners just say “Oh, yeah, I saw that coming”. Not sure I’d go with the “experts”.

Bob Burban
Reply to  Reality check
December 5, 2016 8:39 am

Think of an expert as an old drip under pressure …

Reply to  Reality check
December 10, 2016 4:42 am

Yeah, Michael Sleznick of the Gruaniad also came up with a similar “not the fault of the renewables”. When I first contacted him he repated the claim, but adter sending him the actual words from the AEMO prelim report he went very quiet

Reply to  JohnMacdonell
December 5, 2016 7:47 am

The official detailed explanation of the events during the first SA blackout is here:
While it was a chain of events, including several pylones gone by the wind and grounding of the lines, the final blow was the disconnection of over 300 MW of wind farms – due to safety software, which was too strict – and the resulting overload of the last intact connection with Victoria and not enough fossil reserve on line.
The main problem with wind is that its fluctuations are very fast: even with intact connections within minutes statewide (in this case even seconds). That means that whatever amount of windpower is delivered, you need the same amount of “spinning reserve”, mainly fast ramping gas turbines – which have a bad yield – at running speed, thus guzzling gas without delivering one MW of power…
Of course, if you have a power down of a “classic” power generator, you need at least also backup for the case that the largest generator fails – that is some 10% state-wide. In the case of wind, you need 100% backup of the maximum installed – or maximum demand…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 5, 2016 8:24 am

comment image?w=700
h/t Zeke

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 5, 2016 1:35 pm

Ron C
Chopped birds can be recycled by other birds, insects, foxes, badgers, and other members of the local fauna.
I imagine that the Grauniad considers that ‘Green’.
Others – perhaps less so, but others aren’t seeking a global human population of 500-800 million.
The Garudina may not be actively seeking that – but is then a useful idiot . . . .

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 5, 2016 4:57 pm

Drove through SA a few months ago. Sadly, your cartoon was very accurate. I come from a part of Australia that does not have windmills, and has millions of bird. But our State government is promising to remedy the situation!

December 5, 2016 5:42 am

Quinn’s 1st Law yet again rears its ugly head. Liberalism/leftism produces the exact opposite of its stated intent. Greenies pushed wind solar to reduce “greenhouse” emissions, now people are having to use more fossil fueled generators to produce electricity and put out more “greenhouse” emissions. What a bunch of ‘tards greenies are.

Patrick B
Reply to  2hotel9
December 5, 2016 7:11 am

I have predicted the same several times. To the extent green energy sources result in any instability to the supply, people will buy home generators to replace it – resulting in more cost and pollution than using normal fossil fuel power plants. That of course will be followed by the liberals regulating the purchase and installation of home generators. etc. etc.

Patrick PEAKE
December 5, 2016 5:59 am

Personally I think the electricity supply in South Australia would have to experience another couple of major blows before the government will change its attitude to green power. At present they do not seem to accept there is a serious issue despite recent black outs.

Reply to  Patrick PEAKE
December 6, 2016 8:36 pm

Agree! They have thick heads, the greens.

December 5, 2016 6:04 am

“We’ve got the most efficient thermal gas-fired generator in the country here in South Australia, at Pelican Point, and the way the national electricity market is structured it’s not efficient for them to have the entire thing running all the time,”
Pelican Point is efficient and cost effective at supplying base load power 24/7 but like other thermal plants cannot compete with subsidised unreliables like wind and solar, particularly wind when its marginal costs are negligible and it grabs the cream off the the milk via the interconnector to Victoria. When the wind doesn’t blow then thermal has to take up the slack anytime and every time and should the variance get too large and produce voltage or frequency problems then the reverse lifeline to Vic thermal is under stress.
That’s the way unreliables bastardise the electricity market, when what’s really needed is wind farms should have to tender only the maximum amount of power they can guarantee to the grid 24/7, but to do that naturally they’d have to partner with reliable thermal generators and price accordingly and the thermals would want their pound of flesh to facilitate that level playing field process. But that would take all the fun and games out of it for the windmills.

Bloke down the pub
December 5, 2016 6:26 am

It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow when you want it to.

December 5, 2016 6:59 am

Any other sane country would build gas pipelines from over abundant supplies in the northwest to SA.

December 5, 2016 7:18 am

The state-wide blackout on Sept 28th of this year actually showed that the SA electricity system is in good shape. During the day after the blackout wind power was largely banished and the conventional generators showed what they can do, rising to a peak of 1500 MW, enough to cover summer heatwave peaks with the help of interconnector inputs. There is still enough reserve capacity to cover loss of an interconnector.
Conclusion: stop fawning over wind power, make sure you keep all your conventional generators, and replace any that close with the same or greater capacity, no more hype about “transitions”. But, for that to happen Australia needs capacity payments, otherwise our “green” friends will be more than happy to see the continuing decline of proper power stations.

Reply to  climanrecon
December 5, 2016 8:44 am

But, for that to happen Australia needs capacity payment
why pay people to produce nothing? in effect you are paying power stations to produce no electricity, even when it is profitable for them to do so. This raises the price of power for everyone, increasing costs for everyone, and making Oz less competitive internationally, which will lead to increased unemployment and higher taxes.

Non Nomen
Reply to  ferd berple
December 5, 2016 11:07 am

First of all it needs politicians with common sense who are amenable to criticism and suggestions. That, per se, excludes watermelons and ideologists. These will always try to lead people up the garden-path, promising green fields and delivering short circuits at the end.

Reply to  ferd berple
December 5, 2016 1:59 pm

“why pay people to produce nothing? in effect you are paying power stations to produce no electricity”
You mean like we pay fireys to sit around not fighting fires or police to drive around not arresting villains?.
OTOH we call tenders to run the fire or police service and the dirt cheap tender is from Acme Services but there won’t be any service at night or when the wind is below 9km/hr or above 90 but they’re an approved UN equal opportunity employer and scrupulous with the union award and really kick butt when they’re on the job. It’s the obvious choice at those tender rates folks..

Reply to  ferd berple
December 5, 2016 2:52 pm

making Oz less competitive internationally

Lack of reliable power make (South) Oz less competitive internationally, even more than the raised price for electricity.
Look at Germany where they use capacity payments to keep coal plants online to cover the intermittency of renewables but avoid raising the electricity pricing for industry by hammering the domestic consumers. And Germany also has the luxury of a strongly interconnected grid with its neighbours so those slowish ramping coal plants export lots of power for the moments when the renewables do produce significant power. But even there in the economic power house of Europe, the subsidies are being cut and the true price of renewables will be seen.

Reply to  climanrecon
December 5, 2016 8:49 am

why not simply price electricity based on supply and demand? right now wind and solar get a guaranteed price regardless of supply and demand, which destabilizes the market. if wind and solar were to get a variability price, based on supply and demand, the same as every other power producer, the market would very quickly solve the capacity problem.

Reply to  ferdberple
December 6, 2016 12:37 am

While small scale rooftop solar with its FIT has guaranteed pricing (for lucky some up to 54c/Kwhr when maxm peak retail is around 37c) the wind farms don’t get a guaranteed price, but see if you can spot the pea and thimble trick whereby they claim their renewables are generating 20% of the power at a cost of only 2% of the retail price-
That pea and thimble trick disappears if ALL tenderers to the market have a simple caveat-
They can only tender up to a maximum of power units that they can guarantee 24/7 year in year out. That’s called a level playing field and interestingly enough we have international laws against dumping in commerce but so called Green energy gets a free ride in that regard. I’m not interested in fleeting cheap marginal costs but the average cost over the long haul and Green power is being falsely advertised and misrepresented in that regard.

December 5, 2016 12:06 pm

I see that Nick Stokes, who usually shows up to defend the SA wind power mess, is notably absent from comments.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Anthony Watts
December 5, 2016 12:50 pm

Rumors say that he got stuck in an elevator that was w/o elctricity because of shortcuts in the solar panels on the roof.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Non Nomen
December 5, 2016 12:53 pm

>a short circuit<
Typhoid…Typo, sorry

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Anthony Watts
December 6, 2016 1:58 am

Not sure he would have wanted to subject himself to another pasting. I came late to the story, but the evidence on rising blackout risk as conventional power has been shut down on p 26 here:
seemed conclusive.

December 5, 2016 12:53 pm

Victoria is labour and they are closing there biggest coal powered power station where will SA get there power from nsw are closing down some of there smaller power stations china owns the biggest ones ? http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/closure-of-hazelwood-power-plant-will-have-a-major-impact/news-story/c61e716c09c2edd8e64efbd056f16ec7

December 5, 2016 1:58 pm

Civilization only advanced because humans managed to make energy more available and cheaper.

Reply to  Robertv
December 5, 2016 2:14 pm

People in 4 million UK households face restricted life chances because they live in a cold, damp property, according to the NEA report.

Reply to  Robertv
December 5, 2016 2:19 pm

In 2014, 11% of Spanish families, or some five million people, could not afford to heat their homes adequately in the winter months, according to a study by the country’s Environmental Science Academy. The study found that the average price of gas and electricity had increased by 67% and 73% respectively, since the onset of Spain’s economic crisis in 2008.

Reply to  Robertv
December 5, 2016 2:47 pm

Then, almost suddenly, people began using coal, and then oil, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power. Our abilities, and our dreams, began to reach for the heavens – at least in many countries. Sadly, many other countries lagged far behind, and many still do.
They are held back, condemned to continued energy poverty – and thus to real poverty and the diseases, malnutrition and desperation that go with that absence of modern energy. This is partly because many nations are governed by incompetent, corrupt leaders, who care only about enriching themselves, their families, and their close friends, allies and supporters.
But it is also because callous, imperialistic people in rich countries use exaggerated, imaginary or phony environmental concerns and fake disasters to justify laws, regulations and excuses not to let poor countries use fossil fuels or nuclear power or develop their economies.
They tell us we should only use renewable energy. They say nuclear power is dangerous, and oil, gas and coal are dirty and cause dangerous climate change. They don’t seem to think or care about the poverty, diseases and starvation that we suffer because we do not have fossil fuels.
And when they talk about renewable energy, they mean the very limited energy – and economic growth – that come from wind and solar power, or from growing crops for energy instead of to feed our hungry people. They even oppose hydroelectric power for poor nations.

michael hart
Reply to  Robertv
December 5, 2016 8:22 pm
December 5, 2016 3:07 pm

The problem that plagues South Australian power is it’s to reliant on Victoria as this map points out. https://www.electranet.com.au/what-we-do/solutions/network-map/
Australians pay to much for their electricity and the problem starts here.
“The NEM operates the world’s longest interconnected power systems between Port Douglas, Queensland and Port Lincoln, South Australia with an end-to-end distance of more than 5000 kilometres, and 40,000 circuit kilometres[citation needed]. Over A$11 billion of electricity is traded annually in the NEM to meet the demand of almost 19 million end-use consumers.”
South Australians pay a hefty price for electricity, mainly because of this mobs Tax avoiding, high energy using greed.
“BHP Billiton has unleashed stinging criticism of “perilous” energy policies it says are killing investment and jobs, and heaped scorn on the South Australian government’s assertion that it should build its own power station for its massive Olympic Dam mine.
A major employer in South Australia and the state’s biggest user of energy, BHP is seething after another major blackout left the Olympic Dam operations without power for more than four hours early yesterday.”
J Weatherill is the South Australian premier.
“But Mr Weatherill has blamed people’s “political agendas” for the “ignorant remarks”, noting that Mr Joyce hated wind farms.
When asked whether SA could still have had power if it still had its own coal-fired baseload power, Mr Weatherill said no.
“It’s a misunderstanding that there’s no baseload power,” Mr Weatherill said.
“The baseload power was operating in SA at the time this event occurred.
“If this had happened 20 years ago when there was no renewable energy, the same thing would have happened, that’s the advice we’ve received from the Australian Energy Market Operator.”
“I mean this is a weather event, not a renewable energy event, and the truth is this, when
there’s a crisis people pull out their agendas.”

Reply to  jmorpuss
December 6, 2016 5:54 am

long paid for BY taxpayers
the grids should NEVER have been privatised
prices soared and supply is a shambolic affair.
good thing im not in position of power maybe
Id be sending many to jail for abuse n incompetence
cos we abolished death penalty dammit!

December 5, 2016 6:24 pm

I am disappointed to see the picture chosen for this article, as the twisted pylons are not directly related to the use of renewables. It is no better than the warmist fraternity showing water vapor exiting cooling towers when discussing the pollution caused by the burning of coal.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Asp
December 6, 2016 2:00 am

Twisted pylons arose because connections to windfarms were erected on the cheap. I’d call that a pretty direct connection!

December 6, 2016 6:00 am

less concrete on some of the bases than a hills hoist in the garden!
entire new lines n towers just for wind?
added huge costs to already stupid costs
i note the old powerlines didnt fall over
and neither have they in any great numbers(if at all?) EVER in some pretty foul winds n mini tornados that riped through mid nth while i lived there.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
December 6, 2016 1:20 pm

It was the older towers that went down because of high winds and poor maintenance.
“The transmission company Electra­Net in South Australia owns and operates some of the oldest electricity transmission network assets in the nation, with half of the state’s electricity towers due to exceed their use-by dates by 2023.
ElectraNet was first warned in 2005 of the risk that 43 of its ­towers could collapse in windy conditions because of corrosion and degradation of foundations.”
OZ if you go to Google images and type in South Australian wind farms, what you will see is the lack of H.V towers. That’s probably because the power line from the wind farm runs underground to the old substation that was already part of the old grid system.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  jmorpuss
December 7, 2016 4:08 am

“jmorpuss December 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm
That’s probably because the power line from the wind farm runs underground to the old substation that was already part of the old grid system.”
Probably? It’s either there or not…and running power lines under ground for long distances introduces costs and maintenance problems. That’s why you find major grid networks ABOVE ground BECAUSE maint crews can get to them easily.

Reply to  jmorpuss
December 7, 2016 9:57 pm

Patrick MJD Power lines from the wind farm were either underground or on concrete poles. The wind blew over the old poorly maintained steel towers . The blackouts would have happened even if the wind farms weren’t there.
Marais provided the installation of 53km of fiber optic, electric and earth cables over a four-month period at Hornsdale Wind Farm (SA), using 1 x Marais Trencher (SM).
The electricity generated from each wind turbine will be transmitted via underground cable or overhead transmission line to a central cable marshalling point at the onsite substation, which will be located next to the 275kV power line that runs through the site area. The substation will then connect directly into the National Electricity Transmission Grid. The connecting 275kV lines are owned and operated by ElectraNet and are used to provide a secure transmission link between Port Augusta and the Adelaide Metropolitan Area. The power generated from the Hornsdale Wind Farm will flow into the national interconnected network.
The new power line was constructed on concrete poles – and between February and May 2016, Marais Laying Technologies – along with our 1 SMC200R Marais trencher – worked alongside Consolidated Power Projects to complete this $3.16 million dollar project

Steve T
Reply to  jmorpuss
December 8, 2016 6:10 am

December 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm
Patrick MJD Power lines from the wind farm were either underground or on concrete poles. The wind blew over the old poorly maintained steel towers . <bThe blackouts would have happened even if the wind farms weren’t there.

Not true.
Read the official report at
Some wind turbines were affected by the variations caused by the downed towers which, in turn, caused a massive loss of over 400MW of wind generation (unable to cope with voltage and frequency changes). This in turn increased demand on the interconnector which couldn’t cope with such an increase in demand and closed down to protect itself. The standard base load generators were able to withstand the voltage and frequency variations and continued generating until the SA system dropped out altogether shortly afterwards.

Reply to  jmorpuss
December 8, 2016 3:50 pm

Steve T
The wind farms safety systems kept tripping out because of the downed H.V powerlines . The H.V lines that blew down have been there way before the wind farms were connected to the grid system. Even the Heywood interconnect kept tripping out . The safety systems work similar to what happens with your homes power supply. In your metre box, you have safety switches that trip out if you have a fault in the wiring or a faulty appliance plugged in. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to reset it ,if you don’t fix the problem it will keep tripping out. The same process happens with your car except if you have a electrical fault you blow a fuse to protect other wiring and electrical components. Some here mite be old enough to remember when we called the home metre box a fuse box. Instead of flicking a switch, you had to replace the fuse wire that had burnt through, Many house fires were started because people would use thicker fuse wire instead of fixing the fault , modern day breaker switches stopped a lot of electrocutions and house fires. The reason for the interconnect and the wind farms not being able to provide power was because they kept tripping out due to a wiring problem. ie the H.V lines were down, and if they didn’t trip the damage bill would be much higher. What I’d like to know , is how much power from S.A wind farms was suppling Victoria before the storm? the interconnect works both ways.
3.4.5 Response of Heywood Interconnector
Data gathered to date indicates the protection mechanisms on the Heywood Interconnector operated as
designed. AEMO continues to investigate factors relating to the detail of the interconnector protection
performance and will provide an update in future reports.
3.3.1 Voltage disturbances due to line faults
Based on high speed voltage records provided by ElectraNet, AEMO has reviewed the voltage
disturbance caused by each of the faults on the transmission network. AEMO has concluded the
voltage disturbances were as would be expected for the type of powerline faults that occurred.

December 7, 2016 6:06 pm

Have a look at wind power generation in Australia for December 6th-
and knock out all States except SA and subtotal and you’ll find a whole day where the wind turbine State is only producing up to 5% max of installed capacity yet today the wind is howling and the owners will be taking the cream off the milk with power prices. What a joke.

December 11, 2016 8:11 am

I was looking at the New York State Energy Plan: By 2030 “50% Generation of electricity must come from renewable energy sources.” Suggest they read up on the information being provided within this comments section.
Then there is zero fracking, the proposed Constitution gas pipeline not approved, Nuclear PP Op. life extended and also subsidized by ratepayers to a reported tune of $965 Million plus subsidies for renewables. Life is looking to become even more expensive in NY State without the security of supply improving.

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