Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t JoNova – South Australia, the world’s renewable energy crash test dummy, has just encountered a new problem; “climate” has caused their wind power to collapse.
Lack of wind blows out South Australia power costs
12:00AM July 4, 2017
The slowest wind conditions on record in some places of South Australia have slashed east coast wind generation in the June quarter, pushing up electricity prices, cutting wind farm profits and spurring concerns about future energy market planning.
The trend, spurred by unusually high pressure systems in the Great Australian Bight that are becoming more prevalent as the globe warms, is forecast to continue in July and August, the weather bureau says.
The so-called wind drought has meant National Electricity Market wind generation in the June quarter, the first quarter after this year’s closure of the Hazelwood brown coal-fired power station, was its lowest in five years, despite rapid growth in the number of wind turbines.
Darren Ray, a senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the low winds had been caused by a high pressure system over the Bight.
While this had eased, and wind had picked up, it was expected to return.
“Modelling of weather patterns is keeping the high pressure systems a bit stronger than average, with lower than average winds, over July and August,” he said, adding it was probably not going to be as extreme as June.
Global warming was making the high pressure systems more common.
“There is a long-term trend linking it (high pressure systems in the Bight) to climate change,” Mr Ray said.
“The tropics expand as the planet warms and that sees high pressure systems staying throughout the south longer than they used to.”
As JoNova points out, the current Bureau of Meteorology analysis contrasts with yesterminute’s modelling which indicated climate change would produce stronger winds, more violent weather systems – for exactly the same reason.
Climate change ‘blowing in’ stronger winds, CSIRO finds
12:00AM September 22, 2011
WIND speeds in Australia have increased by about 14 per cent over the past two decades, but you may not have noticed because the speed of the air just above the ground has actually slowed down.
CSIRO scientists analysing data collected since 1975 at numerous wind stations around the country found the average speed measured 10m above the ground had increased by about 0.7 per cent per year, whereas that measured 2m above the ground had slowed by about 0.4 per cent per year over the same period.
Moreover, they found that the weakest winds had increased in speed but the fastest and strongest winds increased more slowly by comparison — good news for wind-farm developers but potentially bad news for farmers.
Alberto Troccoli, head of the CSIRO’s Weather and Energy Research Unit, said the difference between the measure at 2m and 10m was due to the lower stations being shielded by obstacles such as trees and buildings, and that the higher station provided the more accurate measure.
“We think the overall increase is caused by the widening of the tropical belt, due to climate change,” he said.
A skeptic might suggest that Aussie climatologists are just making it up as they go, that they haven’t got a clue what is really happening to the climate. But I’m sure this can’t be the case; after all, the science is settled.