Limits to Solar and Wind Power in Australia

By Richard D. Patton

South Australia (SA) is the smallest state in Australia and its government has made a goal of being a leader in renewable energy production. As a consequence, it has a large amount of installed wind and solar generation. After a series of blackouts in 2016, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) placed strength limits on solar and wind generation, making sure that there was enough backup so that there was not a repeat of the blackouts.

In the 3rd quarter of last year, here is a graph of the curtailment of wind and solar power generation.


Source: AEMO 3rd quarter report 2018

The curtailed power (non-synchronous means wind and solar power) represented 10% of all of the electricity generated in the quarter. It was 150 GWh, so the total generation potential was 1500 GWh, and 1350 GWh was actually used. Over 91 days, this is an average of 618 MW.

There is an interconnector between SA and Victoria. During this time, exports, driven by wind and solar averaged 150 MW out of SA and into Victoria. This was mostly due to wind power. Finally, the average demand of SA was 1465 MW. This can be combined into the following table:

SA Demand (MW) Wind and Solar (MW) Exports (MW) Used in SA (MW) Percent of demand from renewables
1465 618 150 468 31.9%

This is a higher result than I would have expected. The renewable generation is bumping up against the intermittency constraint. For the comparable quarter last year, the curtailment percentage was 5.9%, so the amount of curtailed power is going up. More installations, especially of wind, will probably push up the curtailment and contribute little to satisfying actual demand.

Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so the 3rd quarter (July, August and September) is the winter there, and winds are usually highest in winter. There is also continued installation of wind and solar power. Comparable numbers for other quarters are:

3rd quarter 2017 4th quarter 2017 1st quarter 2018 2nd quarter 2018 3rd quarter 2018
% curtailment in SA 5.9% 2.3% 1.2% 4.8% 10%

In the 2nd quarter, 2018, the average demand was 1500 MW and the renewable generation was only 480 MW. The export flow from SA to Victoria was 80 MW. This gives a renewable portion of SA demand of 26.7%. 1st quarter 2018 was similar. Renewables generated 500 MW and there were exports of 80 MW, so renewables were 28%.

In the 4th quarter 2017 there was an anomalously large export figure of approximately 220 MW which probably should be ignored as a special circumstance since it does not occur in any other quarter. Renewables generated 470 MW and demand was static at approximately1500 MW.

None of these figures take into account demand suppression due to home photovoltaic (PV) installations. The PV installations do not go onto overall demand, since that is demand for large generators. These penetration figures would be higher if home PV were considered.

Probably new wind generation in SA will add more to the curtailed energy than to electricity supply in SA. There is more room for growth in PV since PV output rises during the day and that is when demand is highest. SA is a desert. Adelaide, its chief city, is fairly close to the equator at 35o S latitude so it has good solar resources.

It is interesting that my last article showed that Germany appeared to be bumping up against a soft limit of 12.5% for wind and solar, but South Australia is up in the high twenties to low-thirties – almost 2.5 times the penetration. It is not possible to generalize from one case. Each case is different, but probably it depends on both population density and the quality of the wind and solar resource.


AEMO quarterly reports 4th quarter 2017 to 3rd quarter 2018

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Tom Halla
January 12, 2019 2:09 pm

On a map, both Tasmania and Victoria appear smaller than South Australia.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 12, 2019 2:25 pm

It’s also bigger than New South Wales.

Reply to  Rich Davis
January 13, 2019 3:48 am

Would not have been hard to check that before writing the article. Since Tasmania and ACT are also states, the claim that SA is the smallest state could only be made by someone with no knowledge of Australia.

It is also in the middle by population:

The sense of the article is a little lost because it does not explain what is meant by “curtailed” energy. If this means that some wind turbines are deliberately taken out of production when they could be producing this means that better grid design to export the excess could improve the figure of 31.9% .

Reply to  Greg
January 13, 2019 9:21 am

Technically, the ACT is not a state – it’s a Territory.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 12, 2019 8:28 pm


Regardless of the serious unresolved questions of the global warming scientific debate, wind and solar power do NOT contribute reliable, economic electric power to the grid. The fatal flaw is intermittency.

This is a simple and proven hypothesis, yet trillions of dollars have been wasted globally on this green energy nonsense.

Wind power is a mature technology so it is unlikely to ever become economic.

Solar power is more costly than wind power now, but major technological improvements are still possible.

We tried to explain the fatal flaws of wind and solar power to the public and our politicians without success. I concluded a simpler message was required, so that our politicians and their green minions could understand.

Years ago, I wrote the following about grid-connected wind and solar power:



Apparently this is still too complicated for our politicians and the radical greens.

Regards to all, Allan 🙂

Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 8:34 pm

Thank you Allan.
Short and easy to understand.

January 12, 2019 9:23 pm

Or as I have said before, would you buy a product that only worked when it felt like it?

January 13, 2019 3:59 am

I hear that the fools in gov in Vic are planning a billion dollar solar farm to supply 400k homes
my calc cant handle the nubers…but i bet thats damned expensive per home IF it produces

Carbon Bigfoot
January 13, 2019 12:22 pm

Do those those figures include the gas turbine back-up generators inflating the output?

Trevor Gunter
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 12, 2019 10:53 pm

South Australia is fairly large in area but it’s population is the smallest of the mainland states. This is due to the fact that about 95% of the state is desert. Tasmania is smaller in both pop and size but as it’s not part of the mainland we often forget about it. lol.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 12, 2019 11:46 pm

South Australia also has more people than Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 13, 2019 3:57 am

because they are;-)

January 12, 2019 2:13 pm

South Australia (SA) is NOT the smallest state in Australia 978,810 The smallest State by area is Tasmania 64,519 Victoria is also smaller than South Australia at 227,010 By population, South Australia has 1,659,800 inhabitants, Tasmania has 511,000 inhabitants, the Australian Capital Territory has 366,900, and the Northern Territory has 231,200.
That being said, the rest of the article is quite correct in saying that excessive ‘renewable’ unreliable power is a disaster in South Australia and threatens to spread over the rest of Australian driven by insane Green-Alarmist cabalists.

Chris Morris
January 12, 2019 2:20 pm

There is also an interconnector NSW to SA but I think that is a DC line

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Chris Morris
January 12, 2019 2:40 pm

No Chris it has not been built yet..But the state government wants to build it.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 3:12 pm

In that case Bill you had better tell AEMO that they are wrong and the Murraylink 132kV DC line Midura to Berri doesn’t exist

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Chris Morris
January 12, 2019 3:21 pm

Mildura is in Victoria.
Berri is in South Australia.
There is no inter-connector between SA & NSW.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 5:01 pm

Though called Mildura, the cable terminal station is at Redcliff about 100m from the border. So yes, that is Victoria. However, most of the time, the power flow is through Buronga, just across the river at NSW.
Right now TAS, SA and Vic are exporting so the SA wind power is going into the NSW grid.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Chris Morris
January 12, 2019 6:04 pm

Chris, Baronga has a population of 1132 people.
It is a satellite suburb of the city of MIldura, population 35,000 which is just over on the South bank of the river Murray.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 6:24 pm

Just admiring the pedantry, all based around the opening sentence or two.

Debate could go on forever if we ever get to the content

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 3:13 pm

The more markets you can integrate with, the smaller is the effect of your renewable energy on the grid.

An example would be Denmark which has a huge portion of its generation as wind turbines. It’s grid is integrated with Germany and Sweden. That means the Danish windmills are a much smaller proportion of the actual grid. If Denmark couldn’t use the other countries as a giant storage battery, it’s electric system would be completely unmanageable.

SA is virtue signaling with a bunch of renewable energy. It can only do that because its neighbors are doing the heavy lifting.

Reply to  commieBob
January 12, 2019 3:50 pm

Of course, that only works until your neighbours also wreck their grids with ‘renewable’ power. Then there’s one cloudy day with little wind and the entire continent goes dark.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  commieBob
January 12, 2019 3:57 pm

“It’s grid is integrated with Germany and Sweden.”
That is correct, but more importantly Denmark is heavier interconnected to Norway and Germany. Norway is key here, as excess electricity is sent from Germany and Denmark to Norwegian hydro storage – a very expensive arrangement.
Same amount of hydro storage is probably not available in SA.
Have a look at the live map near the bottom of:

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 12, 2019 7:06 pm

At least Norway has lots of water which is not required for irrigation downstream.

South Australia has not much water and it is needed for irrigation. So using wind & solar energy to pump water back up hill will also impact the irrigation industry down stream.

Iain Reid
Reply to  commieBob
January 13, 2019 1:20 am


Denmark also links to Norwy with it’s large hydro generation. Excess wind from Demark allows the Norwegians to fill their pumped storage dams cheaply and release that power when the wind is low back to the Danes at a high cost, win win fo rthe Norwegians and lose lose for the Dnaes.

Sal Minella
January 12, 2019 2:26 pm

Is the high utilization rate due to the giant Musk battery, or isn’t that installed yet?

Les Francis
Reply to  Sal Minella
January 12, 2019 2:34 pm

It’s installed. It can supply 18 minutes of load power

Sal Minella
Reply to  Les Francis
January 12, 2019 2:52 pm

If it is used as a buffer, it would smooth variations in the supply making the unreliable power a little more reliable and thus, more usable.

Reply to  Sal Minella
January 12, 2019 3:21 pm

It would make the utilization of the unreliable power a little better. The power is still just as unreliable as it was all along.

Reply to  Sheri
January 12, 2019 9:02 pm

UN Division for Sustainable Development

About Renewable Energy. Some history.

Workshops & Seminars: 2000-2010

Click on any items and follow the links on the left sidebar.

European Parliament
Last updated: 10 January, 2019

“Texts adopted”

‘European Parliament Resolution on the International Conference for Renewable Energies (Bonn, June 2004)” There was another Renewable Energies Conference in China in 2005 available online.

Both of these webpages provide some history of how far back the Renewable Energy Agenda goes back to in the United Nations Sustainable Energy Agenda.

U.S. Department of State, February 25, 2008
“Washington International Renewable Energy Conference”, 3/3/08

Also available online.

There is more on this topic online. Renewable Energy being pushed in the U.S. as well. And more Renewable Energy Conferences.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Barbara
January 12, 2019 9:14 pm

Barbara, why bother ?
Most of us here in South Australia are already living with this expensive, unreliable dopey way of providing electricity…

Reply to  Sheri
January 12, 2019 9:33 pm

Another link:

U.S. Department of State, 2008, 3/3/08


“Advancing the Use of Renewable Energy Worldwide”

Also available online.

Reply to  Sheri
January 12, 2019 9:43 pm

Bill In OZ

People don’t believe what has and is taking place world wide unless you show them what’s up.

Posters from OZ have done well at informing what’s taking place in OZ.

Reply to  Sheri
January 13, 2019 7:13 am


Articles about 2,590 on/or related to:

“International Conference for Renewable Energies 2004”

This is an information data base.

Renewable Energy is a world wide issue.

Reply to  Sheri
January 13, 2019 10:45 am

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 7/20/2018

“State Renewable Portfolio Standards And Goals”

“Roughly half of the growth in U.S. renewable energy generation since 2000 can be attributed to state renewable energy requirements.”

“$40 billion market”

Webpage includes a list of all the U.S. State requirements.

Sub-national level state by state activity.

Reply to  Sheri
January 14, 2019 8:14 pm

European Commission
Press Release Database: 4 March 2008

Re: Washington, D.C. Meeting, March, 2008

International Conference on Renewable Energy, 3rd Conference. 2008, Washington, D.C.

2nd Conference was 2005 in China. Available online.

About European Commission working with U.S. officials.

Reply to  Sheri
January 14, 2019 8:23 pm


March 4, 2008, Washington, D.C. Meeting

Reply to  Sheri
January 15, 2019 10:18 am


Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC)

Archived: 2002/2003

“Committed to cooperating on the promotion of renewable energy”

Follow the links on the webpage for more information.

Also known as the “Johannesburg Meeting”

Prior to 2002-2003, renewable energy “activities” were not well organized.

Reply to  Sal Minella
January 12, 2019 6:31 pm

You are talking about a 150MW peak battery in the context of potentially (as its rarely delivered) 2GW of wind power. Its really only of local rather than statewide significance. Primarily it just arbitrages cheap local charging when available and sells a % back at peak demand ($14,000 a MWh at peak intervals). Just another “renewable” eneterprise gaming the public.

Reply to  Sal Minella
January 12, 2019 7:32 pm

Maybe the Musk battery was the wrong device for the job? Sure it can be charged from excess power and then discharged when needed, but its only a few minutes of grid supply, and the charge/discharge cycle is not quick.

In a filtered mains power circuit in electronics, large capacitors smooth the rectified output voltage, but also supply extra power by partially discharging when there is a big demand from the downstream circuit.

Maybe what is needed in South Australia instead is a (very) large capacitor array that can charge/discharge very quickly. That way the intermittent, unused peaks from renewable sources could be instantly stored and fed back into the grid in on a time scale of minutes or less.

Might only be fiddling at the margin though, but maybe the renewable developers could be forced to install these to finally force them to stop destabilising the spinning load grid?

Reply to  DaveR
January 12, 2019 8:37 pm

it seems for some the battery is perfect, it does an exceptional job of making profit for it’s owners trading on the electricity market:

Buying electricity when it goes into excess and demand is low, selling back to the grid when demand is high – a million dollars in a day is a good deal for a device that doesn’t actually make any power

I recall an article (no link sorry) which suggested $179 million profit to date, again the investors must be delighted they’re able to take so much money from the SA population due to their dependence on intermittents ..

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Karlos51
January 12, 2019 8:53 pm

Ummm I remember in late 2016 our beloved ex premier ‘Weatheredall along with Musk on TV saying how this big battery would save us from ever again having a “system black”…

And indeed it has at another increased cost to consumers…

Where before we never needed such a ‘service’ or had to pay for it either..

Chris Hanley
Reply to  DaveR
January 12, 2019 10:01 pm

Elon & admirer Jay (Weatherill):
comment image
Elon thinks: ‘there’s one born every minute’.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Les Francis
January 12, 2019 5:53 pm

18 minutes of power should be enough to get the Brayton cycle natural gas turbines up to speed. What I don’t know is whether enough of them exist in this location.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 12, 2019 6:33 pm

Its not a back up in that sense, its more aimed at FCAS (frequency stablisation) and arbitrage sale of power.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 12, 2019 7:01 pm

I am no longer in CA either Dan.
It’s a “Green Alliance” now.

Chris Hanley
January 12, 2019 2:42 pm

South Australia has the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world:

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Chris Hanley
January 12, 2019 2:56 pm

Yes and it is all exported to other countries…

We have a strong dopey Greenist lobby here in South Australia..

So reliaable cheap nuclear power fired by our own uranium is simply not acceptable,

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 6:34 pm

Not just SA, the stupidity around nuclear is a national thing.

Michael S. Kelly, LS, BSA, Ret.
Reply to  Chris Hanley
January 12, 2019 3:27 pm

The stats on ten-year production of yellow cake from the Olympic Dam Mine are impressive. Used in a regular PWR, with no reprocessing, it would produce 645 TWhre, or an average of 64.5 TWhre a year. Thanks for the link.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
January 12, 2019 6:20 pm

Olympic Dam will be a very busy place one day. Buy BHP shares for your kids. Only risk is the current management are socialists and they may damage the company before the bonanza occurs.

January 12, 2019 2:44 pm

The Musk battery is a joke, 8 minutes of power if all else fails.

The only use would be to re-start the windmills.

As to the interconnector, to my knowledge we have only the one, to Victoria. It used to pick up the power from the Brown Coal station, but Premier Andrews closed that down.

The now Premier, a Liberal, , is talking about building a interconnector to NSW, so we can get some coal drivemn power, that will take years.


Bill In Oz
Reply to  Michael
January 12, 2019 2:59 pm

Michael there are still 2 huge brown coal fired electricity generators operating in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. They are the Loy Yang A & B generation plants. Hazelwood brown coal power plant was shut down by it’s owner last year.

Reply to  Michael
January 12, 2019 6:35 pm

thats not what its for

January 12, 2019 2:48 pm

All this time, money and effort is being wasted on a total scientific hoax.
An Einstein Thought Experiment on Climate Change
That means that Anthropogenic CO2 can warm 1gm of water 1°C every 4.186/0.94 or 4.45 Seconds over an area of 1 m^2. A m^3 of water weighs 1,000,000 gms. It would take 4,450,000 seconds, or 1,250 hours or nearly 2 months for Anthropogenic CO2 to warm a m^3 of sea surface water 1°C. To put things in perspective, at high noon on a clear day, the oceans are being bathed by 1,000 W/m^2 by incoming solar radiation. (Source) It only takes the sun 1.16 hours to warm the oceans as much as Anthropogenic CO2 does in 1,250 hours. On a cloudy day, the incoming solar radiation may only be 100 W/m^2, so the variations are enormous, yet still dwarf the contributions of anthropogenic CO2. A similar example could be done using the time it takes CO2 to replace the energy lost from just one cloudy day.

Reply to  CO2isLife
January 13, 2019 2:54 pm

In context with what the author is saying , South Australia has the lowest electricity generation of any mainland state , helped by the mass exodus of industry who no doubt went elsewhere for affordable, reliable, electricity.
I do believe that SA has the highest ratio of Govt employees .
So yes the smallest mainland state for electricity usage .

Warren in New Zealand
January 12, 2019 2:49 pm

South Australia is larger than NSW, Victoria, Tasmania Pop. Area
New South Wales NSW AU-NSW NSW State Sydney 7,704,300 800,628
Queensland Qld AU-QLD QLD State Brisbane 4,827,000 1,723,936
South Australia SA AU-SA SA State Adelaide 1,706,500 978,810
Tasmania Tas AU-TAS TAS State Hobart 518,500 64,519
Victoria Vic AU-VIC VIC State Melbourne 6,039,100 227,010

Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 2:52 pm

Thanks for this short article.

However it would be nice to have some background bio about Richard Patten the author.

Given that some of the introductory detail of the article are wrong, it’s clear he is not a South Australian and not even Australian.

Patten’s analysis of the situation in the third quarter of 2018 is spot on. Wind generation plants in SA were ordered by AEMO to slow down/or shut down as part of the new strategy for maintaining the AEMO’s network stability.

However Richard getting background detail details wrong will be used here in Australia to discredit your analysis.

January 12, 2019 2:55 pm

The Equater is many thousands of K North of Adelaide, and in our winter when we need heat, the Suns angle is low, so useless for solar. As for the wind power, what about the cost factor of all the back up fossell fuel generaters which are necessary for the variable wind power.

As to the “Green”thoughts, what about the bank of “Dirty”diesal generaters the previous Labour Govt. bought, to back up the very unrealiable flow of energy from both wind and solar.


Reply to  Michael
January 12, 2019 8:45 pm

Distance between Adelaide, Australia and the Equator: 3888 km = 2416 miles

oh and a bit related, might be repeating something I’ve seen on WUWT, but it’s a good un’ :

a world map transposing sizes of continents over the mercator map projection which is quite interesting

comment image

Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 3:14 pm

The reality is that now most of Australia is part of a single national electricity grid.

This takes in all of South Australia, All of Victoria, all of New South Wales, all of Queensland, all of Tasmania and all of the Australian Capital Territory ( ACT )..

The only bits which are not part of the grid is Western Australia and the Northern Territory due to the problems caused by the ‘tyranny of distance’.

But the area which is part of the single national grid is HUGE.. It’s about 50% of the Australian land mass.

The Australian Energy Management Operator is supposed to ‘manage’ this entire national grid.

Soooooo rather than examining what is happening within a single state like South Australia, it would be better to examine what is happening over the entire AEMO grid.

The AEMO has it’s own website with lot’s of details. ut frankly I find more clarity by looking at Tony in Oz’s daily updates of the situation. His charts clearly show how much power is being generated over the course of the day, in response to actual demand, by each different source ; black coal, brown coal, gas, hydro, wind, solar etc. Here is a link :

The charts show up clearly how dopey the whole drive to renewable electricity is here in Australia.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 7:16 pm

Ausgrid manages the grid in NSW I am not sure if that grid management extends beyond NSW borders.

Serge Wright
Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 13, 2019 1:57 pm

Whilst the AEMO does include Tasmania and SA, it should be noted that these connections have limited capacity and redundancy. In Tasmania there have been multiple outages on the Bass Strait Link, with one lasting for a year, requiring Tasmania to use diesel generators at great cost. The interconnect from SA to Vic is only rated at around 600MW, or about 30% of SA’s total generation needs. As we saw in the system black event, once you exceed the rating it trips the breaker and switches off.

David L. Hagen
January 12, 2019 3:35 pm

To ensure reliability grids economics need to pay for reliability (dispatchable power and/or energy) not just the cheapest power delivered. The curtailment is in effect such a commitment by guaranteeing payment for at least that portion of the demand.
Providing explicit revenue for standby power and energy storage would go along way towards solving the problem of intermittent renewable power.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  David L. Hagen
January 12, 2019 3:55 pm

That is a very obtuse way of saying that ‘renewable’ energy imposes costs on the grid and thus on consumers, which do not exist when power is generated via coal, gas nuclear or hydro. And so we MUST all pat more…

Pure greenist bull dust David.

If wind or solar want to be part of the mix then they must offer their electricity for sale to the AENO market at the cost of production..Or go bust..

Very simple really.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 6:51 pm

sale to the AENO market at the cost of production..
No. Use supply and demand pricing. The problem results because renewables receive fixed pricing without regard for demand

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Ferdberple
January 12, 2019 6:57 pm


I stand corrected.

tis all a bit confusing as we here in Oz in former times had state owned corporations providing such essential services, basically at cost.

The privatisation ideological agenda imported from the USA destroyed all that.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 13, 2019 4:10 am

about time we REtook the power back into govt control
water power etc should never be privatised for profit at the detriment of the people who have damn well paid many times over for the infrastructure.
profit from govt goes back to the Aussie people
OS corps are loving the profit while doing sfa to maintain as seen by pt augusta and hazlewood demolitions

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 7:05 pm

“If wind or solar want to be part of the mix then they must offer their electricity for sale to the AENO market at the cost of production.”
Why at the cost of production. What about value? If it does not fulfill a need is ti worth anything?
Would a utility buy it if not forced by regulation?

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 7:52 pm

Bill stated:

If wind or solar want to be part of the mix then they must offer their electricity for sale to the AENO market at the cost of production..Or go bust..

The grid scale intermittents have standing offers at negative prices with the NEM to guarantee priority dispatch when they have ouput. The price paid over 30 minute settlement intervals is the average price of six 5 minute scheduling intervals for the highest price in each 5 minute scheduling stack. The cost of gas generation usually sets the wholesale price in Australia.

Gas generators in South Australia get orders from AEMO to stay connected if the scheduling stack does not require their output. They get paid directly for stability service to compensate for the low output. The number and cost of directions has increased as intermittent capacity increased and businesses have closed down due to high power prices.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  RickWill
January 12, 2019 8:10 pm

Ohhhh dear we have a renewable troll in our midst…

There is a very old saying Rockwill : “Keep It Simple Stupid” -KISS

The current system is complex and liable to market failure.Meaning customers get screwed to ensure that renewable electricity is ‘part’ of the system.

In fact it is making the electrical generation system in Australia being forced to be expensive and unreliable. by the law made in Canberra supported by Greenist zealots.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 9:15 pm

This is stating the facts of how the NEM in Australia arrives at the wholesale price. The whole bid stack is based on merit order nominally on the basis of short run marginal cost in the hope that the highest bidder in the scheduled stack will provide some margin for all the higher order producers in the stack. This link has a published fact sheet that may help you understand how the wholesale price is set:

Wind and solar generators have standing bids at negative prices to ensure they are always scheduled when producing (so-called semi-scheduled generators) and do not need to actually limit their output as that adds some cost of management. They only limit output if directed when there are stability concerns. Wind generators in South Australia are capped at just over 1200MW total because they have limited gas generators available in the state to ensure local running reserve. Capping wind output was one of the actions implemented after the statewide blackout a few years ago.

Reply to  David L. Hagen
January 12, 2019 4:39 pm

Energy storage is a head fake. A silly distraction.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Gamecock
January 12, 2019 7:19 pm

Not really. We can dig the stuff out of the ground and store it in piles or in tanks.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 13, 2019 7:26 am

Was it not stored when it was in the ground?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Gamecock
January 13, 2019 3:50 pm

True, but it needs to be dug up first before we can store and then use it when you need it.

January 12, 2019 4:29 pm

SA is now offering a home battery subsidy for 40,000 households.

Home Battery Scheme subsidy levels

$500.00 per kilowatt hour (kWh)
$600.00 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for Energy concession holder.
Maximum subsidy $6,000

As well SA will also have a network of at least 50,000 home solar and battery systems, working together to form the world’s largest Virtual Power Plant.

Will this increase the limits of solar power ?
How much will it all cost ?

Bill In Oz
Reply to  jeff
January 12, 2019 6:27 pm

Yes this scheme was introduced by the former ”Greenist Labor government. That government lost office in March 2018′ in large part due to the anger by voters at it’s high power prices due to pushing expensive unreliable renewable energy down our throats. Utter stuppid bastards are now licking their wounds..

Meanwhile the new government has kep the previous regimes policies in place pro tem, in the hope f maintaining stability. But as it faces a huge budget deficit I doubt that there will be any more such ‘giveaways’ in future.

If it was me I would be dumping the obligation on energy retailers to buy renewable energy.

Reply to  jeff
January 13, 2019 4:11 am

the line “pink Batteries” was used
god help us if its as lousy as pinkbatts was
lotta rorting and profiteering

January 12, 2019 4:44 pm

“It is interesting that my last article showed that Germany appeared to be bumping up against a soft limit of 12.5% for wind and solar, but South Australia is up in the high twenties to low-thirties – almost 2.5 times the penetration. It is not possible to generalize from one case. Each case is different, but probably it depends on both population density and the quality of the wind and solar resource.”

South Australia is able to bump up against a higher penetration because of it’s investment in a Tesla battery, numerous diesel generators and some very expensive OCGT peaker units. All have combined to drive the power costs in South Australia to the highest in the world. Penetration, as it is being used in this article, depends on the quality/quantity of the backup power system installed.

Reply to  SMS
January 13, 2019 2:16 am

South Australia is able to bump up against a higher penetration because of it’s investment in a Tesla battery, numerous diesel generators and some very expensive OCGT peaker units

The overwhelming contribution to South Australia being able to achieve 50% market share for intermittents is the humungous 650MW (infinite MWh) storage that is called Victoria. By comparison the Tesla battery is minute. South Australia has not only supercharged prices in that state but also in Victoria through infection of the same intermittency disease that made Hazelwood uneconomic and closed down. Victorian wholesale prices have jumped 50% in response. Now South Wales is pushing hard for direct high capacity interconnected into the NSW region so it can infect that region with its intermittency; thereby increasing market share of inermittents above the current 50%.

South Australia has the highest electricity prices in the developed world and despite comprising less than 10% of the NEM is able to force up prices in every state on the NEM grid as baseload is destroyed causing progressive increase in wholesale price as baseload coal generators are closed down – two so far and more to come.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  RickWill
January 13, 2019 3:03 am

Absolutely Correct..

4 Eyes
Reply to  SMS
January 13, 2019 6:08 pm

Yes, you can do anything if you, or better still someone else, is prepared to pay for it. I live in Adelaide and my electricity bill hurts, big time. I now despise all politicians – those that want more of this folly and those who won’t do anything about it.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  4 Eyes
January 13, 2019 6:32 pm

Greenists have swamped our pollies with windy propaganda…
Urging them to save the planet
Even when it buggers the lives
Of ordinary folk in South Australia

Ohhh for a polly who can see through
this BS

January 12, 2019 4:49 pm

This live chart of generation and demand is good.
It shows SA is at the moment generating more than its demand using
mostly wind and solar and some gas.

Reply to  jeff
January 12, 2019 6:07 pm

That is a very interesting set of charts and we should continue to view this power grid history in real time through the periods that stress the grid the most.

It’ll be interesting to see what it shows this coming Tuesday when the temperature is suppose to hit 40 in Adelaide and all the air conditioners are running. What percentage of the grid power will be supplied by renewables. Most charts don’t show what is going to happen to the electrical grid when everyone in Adelaide turns on their air conditioners on the hottest, low wind, cloudy day of the year. The perfect storm.

I believe that charts used in discussions like this should show the worst case against renewables. That is the only true comparison. The system has to be stretched to see reality. And if the system breaks down that is the reality of how reliable the power grid system is.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  SMS
January 12, 2019 6:18 pm

Absolutely spot on SMS

Reply to  SMS
January 12, 2019 7:06 pm

I guess in that situation they will be reliant on the interstate interconnector.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  jeff
January 12, 2019 6:16 pm

Jeff that web site is suss. It spruiks for renewables…

And conceals as much as it shows.

AEMO has it’s own”Data Dashboard” for the whole AEMO electrical energy sector. That shows how much power is being generated where and where it is being used in the AEMO network.

Because of the legal obligation to buy solar & wind power, the gas plant at Torrens Island is not running at full capacity…Further because of the legal obligation on retailers to buy renewable energy al over the AEMO grid area, coal plants in Victoria & NSW are running at reduced capacity as well..

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 7:01 pm

The AEMO is good and accurate, but I can’t see how to get the large scale, solar, wind, rooftop solar, gas generation figures separately.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  jeff
January 12, 2019 7:08 pm

Tony in Oz does on a daily basis for us.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 7:25 pm

Yes, that’s excellent for what it is, but doesn’t show SA separate.
and states like NSW have a 10x bigger market, so it’s hard to see what happening in SA.

Reply to  jeff
January 12, 2019 9:51 pm

AEMO are not involved in the retail market so do not see the situation with retailers buying rooftop solar generation. The prices for rooftop output is set by the States, not Federal. States have retained regulatory control over retailers. That is COAG is an important body from the perspective of power system design and pricing.

The renew site gives a more complete picture of the total market rather than just the wholesale market. As small scale generators proliferate they will become a bigger slice of total generation.

The grid was dead economically once intermittents were given priority access to the market.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  RickWill
January 13, 2019 3:08 am

We here in SA bloody well hope not.The system is a complete dopey rort sucking money out of electricity consumers.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
January 13, 2019 4:15 am

heatwave…or hot at least for the next few days…lets see how the grid goes in high demand

January 12, 2019 7:32 pm

Numbers are way off. South Australia produced 50% of its NEM electricity demand from intermittents in 2018. Taking your number of 618MW wind and solar and 1465MW demand gives 42%, not 31.9%.

At retail level and behind the meter generation is taken into account the proportion is considerably higher than 50%. In fact on the last Sunday in November 2018 rooftop solar ALONE contributed to 70% of the lunchtime demand:!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNgxTbiGs9ZlZ85uZW
The rapid uptake of rooftop solar in both South Australia and Queensland, with both states now above 30% of roofs, are serious threats to the economics of grid scale intermittents. Queensland is a good location for solar but not so good for wind due to cyclonic wind threat. The big solar subsidy farms installed during 2017 and 2018 are beginning to realise that there is not much difference in when sunlight hits the state. The subsidy farm proponents have noticed that the wholesale price is tanking just as their panels are getting to peak output:
In fact in June 2018 there were days when lunchtime wholesale prices were negative. The subsidy farms’ economics look poor when they are sending out money with their electricity.

January 12, 2019 7:33 pm

The power problems can be solved overnight by pricing renewables based on supply and demand as is done for all other power sources.

Why pay high prices for power when there is already too much supply on the grid? Why pay low prices when supply is short?

The problem for renewables is that in actual fact the are better described as unreliable. No one wants unreliable power. There would be no demand if renewables were to compete on market price.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Ferdberple
January 12, 2019 8:04 pm

Absolutely. I agree.

The problem is that Labor & he Greens are dominated by Greenist idelogy about saving the planet and the climate.

While the Liberal & national parties attempts to reform this rort have been blocked by Labor & Greens in the senate…And so have come to accept the rort as part of the price of being in government.

The only way forward is 1) Demonstrating the scientific stupidity of attempting to save the planet and 2) making sure al electicity users know that the high & rising cost of power in Australia & especially in SA, is due to this fake scientific stupidity.

Bill In Oz
January 12, 2019 8:23 pm

The Chinese ‘Communist’ Party government of China are far more pragmatic than our resident Greenists here in Australia.

In China the government has changed policy and announced it will not subsidise any more renewable energy generation plants. They have to be able to survive competing with coal & gas power generators by themselves.

The irony of this decision is that China imports most of it’s coal & natural gas from Australia.

It’s a pity we cannot import their cheaper electricity back here for us to use. Maybe a big long DC cable would do the job.

David Sivyer
January 12, 2019 8:52 pm

The SA government has been floating the idea of merging with the Northern Territory. Could it that the NT has a couple of great gas resources which they expect to export to Qld & NSW? Move manufacturing from SA to NT?

Craig from Oz
Reply to  David Sivyer
January 13, 2019 3:12 am

Pretty sure the NT would tell us to bugger off to be honest.

They refused the chance to become a state about 10 years ago when offered in a referendum if I recall correctly. I can’t really see anyone living in Darwin being willing to let a bunch of tossers rule them from North Tec.

I mean *I* are not fully willing to be ruled from North Tec, and I live walking distance from there!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  David Sivyer
January 13, 2019 3:44 pm

SA has manufacturing? That industry moved some years ago. SA barely has aluminium smelting remaining.

January 12, 2019 9:10 pm

Am I seeing this right? 30% from renewables? I thought, according to people on this site, that wasn’t possible.

Way to go SA.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  trafamadore
January 13, 2019 3:27 am

It’s not. That is why we are a basket case with the most expensive electricity in the world and dubious industry beyond the defence industry.

When it ‘works’ it is pointlessly expensive.

When it doesn’t the entire state literally loses power.

Michael Keal
Reply to  trafamadore
January 14, 2019 11:52 am

I’m thankful to SA because at least there is still somewhere else in the world that has politicians even more inept, stupid, corrupt (take your pick of those) than the one’s we have in the UK. But don’t worry ours are not far behind. And they have a big advantage. If a major grid failure occurs next time we have a bad Beast from the East they even get to kill people. Cold kills more people than ‘warming’.

January 12, 2019 9:17 pm

Am I seeing this right? 30% from renewables? I thought, according to people on this site, that wasn’t possible.

Way to go SA.

Reply to  trafamadore
January 13, 2019 2:05 am

It is not possible on it’s own. For renewables to function at that high of a percentage there has to be significant, near instantaneous, backup available to support the power grid. That is why there is the largest battery in the world sitting in SA, that is why there are diesel generators waiting to startup on the grid, that is why there are OCGT power plants ready to generate power when the clouds fill the sky and the wind quits blowing. And for the privilege of having such a high percent renewables, the citizens of SA get to pay the highest power rates in the world.

Reply to  SMS
January 13, 2019 7:54 am

Exactly. Electricity is used continuously. 30% over some period of time is irrelevant. It is only continuous supply that is useful to consumers.

January 12, 2019 9:52 pm

How about explaining what ‘curtailment’ means? Most of us dont work in the power generation industry, we dont know it’s jargon . 🙂

Bill In Oz
Reply to  MattS
January 13, 2019 3:11 am

Basically curtailment means that the wind turbines are shut down so thye the amount of expensive intermittent non synchronous power they generate is reduced…

Why ? Because if this was not done the grid would collapse….

January 12, 2019 9:59 pm

The Northern Terrority was once a part of South Australia, making the State as big as or slightly bigger than WA. But for reasons unknown, possibily our small population, it was split into two land masses.


Bill In Oz
Reply to  Michael
January 13, 2019 3:06 am

It was given to the Commonwealth in 1905-6 because financially it was a complete swamp for South Australia

January 12, 2019 10:07 pm

South Australian local electricity supply breakdown for 2016–17

Gas 50.5%
Wind 39.2%
Rooftop PV 1,016 9.2%
Diesel and small non-scheduled generation* 1.1%
Coal 0 0.0%

Published: November 2017

Renewables have increased since then.

Reply to  jeff
January 13, 2019 12:07 am

Your statistics have no meaning as renewables are forced on South Australians. If the market controlled the power mix, renewables would have a zero contribution. You’ve been told this before.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  jeff
January 13, 2019 2:59 pm

We now see adverts on TV for small, domestic, generators in Australia. I wonder what that is? I suspect someone has seen an opening in the market for widespread brown/black outs across Australia and RET’s will rise to 50% when the next, left/green leaning Govn’t secures power (No pun intended) in a few months time.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 13, 2019 3:07 pm

Patrick, once upon a time only folk is remote locations needed a generator.

Now I think it soon become a standard bit of equipment for all households and businesses across the state….An unintended consequence of our dopey greenist dominated politicians legislative incompetence.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 13, 2019 3:16 pm

As for the national elections in a few months time, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to kick all the greenists idiots in the bum, in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

And that includes senator “center’ alliance stirling ‘Griff’.. Who is in in fact no ‘center politician at all….Rather he is a greenist polly in disguise

Reply to  griff
January 13, 2019 8:08 am

‘To put that into perspective the Tesla battery offers South Australia the same energy services as the surrounding plants but quicker, and with zero emissions.’

They’ll be running SA on batteries only in no time!

‘Zero emissions.” Amazing! How do they do it?

‘Every state and territory will bake through a heatwave on Monday with meteorologists saying soaring temperatures will last for days in some parts.’

The battery is good for 8 minutes. Ride-through capability only.

‘Tesla Battery Installed in South Australia Saved the Region $40 Million In its First Year’

How it saved $40 million is not explained by the article. In fact, it is just the assertion of the bloke who signed for the project.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  griff
January 13, 2019 1:43 pm

Stirling Griff
Since when has the Guardian had anything sensible to say on anything? It’s a Greenist propaganda rag.

Reply to  griff
January 13, 2019 2:01 pm

Griff, Per your links. Absolute hogwash.

The only way batteries can save money is by gaming the system. Using an analogy; renewables are the mafia. They come into a community, bust up businesses and beat up the owners. Then the mafia offers to stop their distruction if you pay insurance. In this case the batteries, diesel generators and OCGT are the insurance. The owners are forced to pay or pay higher costs when the mafia comes back and destroys their businesses.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  griff
January 13, 2019 2:56 pm

Funny Griff, you rely on The Guardian for your temperature data for Australia? How about asking someone who lives there, me for instance. What you read at The Guardian is complete hogwash.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 13, 2019 3:20 pm

Patrick..I suspect Griff is our own South Australian senator Stirling Griff..
Elected as part of the Nick Xenophon Team in 2016. But with Nick’s’ retirement’ from politics , is now a ‘Center’ Alliance senator…

Reply to  Patrick MJD
January 14, 2019 12:17 am

“What you read at The Guardian is complete hogwash.”
The Guardian is just quoting a BoM press release. Here is with the same report.
And it was hot.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 14, 2019 12:51 am

The Guardian is still a Greenist propaganda rag even when they are reprinting a BOM press release.

But Griff that the bugger has a press release from BOM about a heat wave, got to do with windy expensive unreliable wind farms ? Do you perchance think that wind energy will save us from normal Summer heat waves here in South Australia ?

If so, say it explicitly..

And then we can all laugh at your absurdness.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 14, 2019 7:36 pm

It’s mid summer Nick, it’s hot. Mid winter it will be cold, you bet ya!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Nick Stokes
January 14, 2019 7:37 pm

“Nick Stokes January 14, 2019 at 12:17 am

“What you read at The Guardian is complete hogwash.”

The Guardian is just quoting a BoM press release.”

Exactly, hogwash doesn’t matter the source.

Kevin kilty
January 13, 2019 10:18 am

We have been becalmed here in southern Wyoming for the past three days, with at least two more to go before any significant wind. It was -7F here early this morning and we will be in single digits during the morning hours for at least two more days. If we were depending on wind energy, we would be in trouble right now as 2m/s produces none–in fact consumes more than it produces. We would need a solid 5 or 6 days of storage to get through a period like this; a period which is hardly unprecedented.

Occasionally we have periods of high and gusty winds where all the local wind turbines are halted over peak gusts. This too can go on for days.

I have no doubt that if green zealots have their way, and can hoodwink a majority of our population, which appears easy to do, that we will have eventually a wind-dominated grid in the U.S. or even in all of North America. There is no way to stop a bad idea whose time has come. I am thinking of strategies to supply the needed power, either regionally or individually, when this comes to pass.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
January 13, 2019 2:17 pm

Xcel is gaming the system now in Colorado. All thanks to the influence of the enviros and ignorant Democrats. And the new governor of Colorado is going to make it worse.

January 13, 2019 12:23 pm

I stopped reading at “South Australia is the smallest state in Australia”. If the article is so wrong on something so simple, what are the chances of accuracy in the rest of the article? At best, it suggests a basic lack of knowledge of the subject matter.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  rubberduck
January 13, 2019 1:55 pm

Rubberduck, yes ! Do what rubber ducks do.

No capacity to see or read at all.

Bill In Oz
January 13, 2019 4:51 pm

Tony in Oz has just posted an excellent article about why wind can never replace coal fired electrical generation. Worth reading where ever we live on the planet !

January 13, 2019 5:35 pm

One claim made in the following is that data collection + experiments has been ongoing since 1987. It sounds like solid empirical science. If true, what it reveals should be a very important part of any consideration about wind power. To be claimed not true would seem to require a comparable amount of empirical evidence.

Patrick MJD
January 15, 2019 5:26 pm
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