South Australia’s latest green energy scam – the floundering tower of power

Only the Australian government, the Australian media, and Nature Energy can believe it possible to build a plant at half the cost and produce three times more electricity than what it actually does.

Guest opinion by Albert Parker

The recently defunct Concentrated Solar Power tower (CSP) with thermal energy storage (TES) by molten salt (MS) of Port Augusta, South Australia, was a 150 MW rated power plant, 135 MW power under normal operating conditions, of cost AU$650 million, supposed to deliver 495 GWh of electricity annually fully dispatchable at a cost of AU$ 78/MWh.

From the solarreserve website: The total amount of energy storage capability for the project will be a massive 1100 megawatt-hours (MWh), at a much lower cost than battery storage

From Wikipedia:

The premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill announced on 14 August 2017 that construction would commence in 2018 and was expected to be completed in 2020. It was expected to cost A$650M to build, including a A$110M loan from the Federal Government. SolarReserve has a contract to supply all of the electricity required by the state government’s offices from this power project.[2]

The plant received formal development approval from the state government on 9 January 2018. At that time, finance was not yet all in place, but SolarReserve still anticipated commencing construction in mid-2018 and taking 650 workers two and a half years to build it.[3]

On 5 April 2019, South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan announced that he had been contacted by SolarReserve who said the project would not be going ahead.

These were the claims in the press and the peer review in heralding the grand scheme:

South Australia planning to build the world’s largest thermal solar plant

World’s biggest solar tower with storage starts commissioning | RenewEconomy

Solar thermal power plant announced for Port Augusta ‘biggest of its kind in the world’ – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Concentrating solar power: Still small but learning fast

Nature Energy volume 2, Article number: 17095 (2017)

by Johan Lilliestam, Mercè Labordena, Anthony Patt & Stefan Pfenninger

Empirically observed learning rates for concentrating solar power and their responses to regime change, Nature Energy volume2, Article number: 17094 (2017)

Lilliestam, J. & Pitz-Paal, R.,

Concentrating solar power for less than USD 0.07 per kWh: finally the breakthrough?

Renewable Energy Focus, 26, pp.17-21 (2018).

The last claim was more than a little bit questionable.

The actual costs were larger, due to the large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) valued at around AU$ 80/MWh, a low interest loan of 110 m$AU provided to the developer, and the indirect costs of the larger share of intermittent and unreliable electricity production in a state where peak power prices were already varying from AU$ 100 to AU$ 14,000/ MWh.

More than that, the only other plant of same technology built in the world, incidentally by same developer, Crescent Dunes, Tonopah, NV, USA.

“In September 2011, the Department of Energy issued a $737 million loan guarantee to finance Crescent Dunes, a 110-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant near Tonopah, Nevada. It uses power tower technology that concentrates solar energy to heat molten salt, converting that heat into electricity. Upon completion, Crescent Dunes became the largest molten salt power tower in the world.” Thanks Obama! US DOE

Crescent Dunes operating history. Source EIA, Wikipedia

Rated at 110 MW capacity net, had a cost of 975 m$ US 2015 values, for a planned electricity generation of 500,000 MWh/year (capacity factor 51.89%) but actual electricity produced in the best year 127,308 MWh/year (capacity factor 13.21%).

How is possible to believe somebody can be able to cut the cost of the plant to one half, and produce three times more? It is a good question to ask to the Australian Government, as well as the scientific journals that published the claim.

We learn now that no investor decided to risk a cent on this project, that has been consequently axed, as admitted also by the ABC:

Port Augusta solar thermal power plant scrapped after failing to secure finance – ABC News

The renewable energy projects of Australia are always the world biggest; but, they never get real.

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April 6, 2019 3:13 pm

“How is possible to believe somebody can be able to cut the cost of the plant to one half, and produce three times more? ”

Magical thinking.

joe- the non climate scientist
Reply to  Sheri
April 6, 2019 3:17 pm

“How is possible to believe somebody can be able to cut the cost of the plant to one half, and produce three times more? ”


Jim Gorman
Reply to  Sheri
April 6, 2019 5:26 pm

FM, if you know what I mean!

Reply to  Jim Gorman
April 6, 2019 5:45 pm

PFM, and I know you know what I mean.

Gary Ashe
Reply to  Sheri
April 6, 2019 8:02 pm


Javert, Chip
Reply to  Sheri
April 6, 2019 8:40 pm


It isn’t possible. Anybody paying attention knows that; problem is, only about 1% of people are paying attention.

However, there is always somebody’s brother-in-law in the cash-flow mix.

In 2009, Obama and his crowd gave Solyndra $535M of loan guarantees; it promptly defaulted (ie: taxpayer paid) $528M by 2011. Here’s where the “brother-in-law” comes in: guys who made the original loans got paid back by government loan guarantees .

Reply to  Sheri
April 6, 2019 9:19 pm

As an Aussie, I am embarrassed at the stupidity and cupidity of our politicians. We are facing an election at which both our major parties differ only in degree at bowing to the green fairy CO2 monster at the bottom of the garden. My grandkids will curse this generation of Australians and our politicians as we turn ourselves from a well run economy to a compatriot of Venezuela and a client state of China (which is probably marginally better than a client state of Saudi Arabia) .

Our science education in schools is deteriorating rapidly as measured by international comparisons and our journalists are so poorly educated that our national broadcaster, the ABC, has as an economic correspondent someone who does not understand the difference between turnover and profit.

This is the outcome of compulsory voting and a population where more people now vote for their income than work for it.

But it is all OK, we have sorted out all the politically correct stuff. Poor fellow, my country indeed.

Reply to  Quilter52
April 7, 2019 3:45 am

indeed poor fella us all;-(

jay ruinalls lasting gift to SA another disaster

and the indecent haste to demolish PA coalplant so it ouldnt be reinstated was suss,
those who pushed to shut it, then bitched about the dust and power outages and then pushed this as their ideal while hundreds lost jobs homes and devalued sale prices for homes etc..might be very well advised to move or STFU for a loooong time forward.
i see what happened after I left SA and could cry, so much ruined and so much money wasted

Reply to  ozspeaksup
April 8, 2019 8:06 am

That is a new for him. I thought we has Jay Weatherdill!

Reply to  Quilter52
April 7, 2019 8:39 am

As an Aussie, I am embarrassed at the stupidity and cupidity of our politicians.

WE have a saying in the US — We get the politicians we deserve. Voters elect these demagogues, voters can kick them out. Luckily few of our politicians have the courage of their (disastrously wrong) convictions. They’re all talk and no action. They say the right things to get elected, but are at least clever enough to not to support legislation that would arouse the anger the sleep-walking American public

The unelected judges and bureaucrats are story, however.

Reply to  Quilter52
April 7, 2019 10:18 am

Thank you for your insight.

Mike Blackler
Reply to  Quilter52
April 7, 2019 1:09 pm

Thank you Quilter52!

Reply to  Quilter52
April 7, 2019 7:21 pm

“… This is the outcome of compulsory voting and a population where more people now vote for their income than work for it. …”

Could not agree more. This political system, as it is now, robs of incentives and capacities to do the smart things, to start, become and remain independent, and to work for yourself rather than to rely on some corporation or govt department employment. This system impoverishes people who work hard, the proper way – as socialism always does. It’s visibly degraded everything. Go to town and its empty malls and arcades due to copious closed businesses that are now unable to make a living within the business environment the governement has created, in a country that could easily be the richest in the world.

And the compulsory voting is unacceptable. You’re being forced to go and vote for incompetant people who should never have become candidates. I can’t identify anyone worth voting for. And this idea that “voting informal” (showing up to get marked off the roles, and then not casting a vote) as a ‘solution’ to having no one acceptable to vote for, just adds insult to injury.

No, that is not any sort of acceptable response, that is an avoidance of the problem and a continuation and deepening of it.

Frankly I think a mass refusal to vote by the public is the thing which will trigger a referendum to remove compulsory voting (among several other things) but you’re not allowed to say that in Australia as you have no legal right to even speak about it, let alone to advocate for a major change to voting here. All effectively made illegal to debate or encourage. A referendum making positive major change to the political system within Australia is about the only thing I might vote for, at this point, because I sure won’t be voting for any of the existing politicians again, or their perverse dishonest ‘parties’.

Remove the mandatory voting and most of all, separate politics from media in the same way religion was removed from state admin and policy, and eliminate all foreign and private political donations – all of them.

Then they’ll have to work for our vote, minus the gush of easy money and this devious media baloney-making machine pumping them up with lies. At present, instead of sticking to their jobs and their description/role, they seem to spend all their time doing unrelated things, oriented towards grandstanding in the media to obtain money, and planning their next media releases and bloviating speeches, while the actual job of working for the people’s interests gets neglected and performed very poorly indeed, if at all. Usually we are just sold out to bankers as eternal tax-slaves to pay interest on political vote-buying debt schemes.

Separating lying politicians from these toxic media lie-spinners is the first necessary step to cutting the nonsense and getting back to business of becoming competent government, otherwise this propaganda storm will only drop away when the system is recognized as inimical to our interests and just abandoned.

Which also seems to be the general aim and objective of the loony left anyway.

Another federal election is around the corner and I for one will be paying no attention to to what they say as I have their actions to go by, which is all the information anyone needs at this point.

Jerry 2
Reply to  Sheri
April 7, 2019 7:11 am

Use Demoncrat accounting.

Jon Scott
Reply to  Sheri
April 7, 2019 8:45 am

Simply because the climate alarm believers cannot count…en masse and even if they could they would think it is a sin to check the garbage numbers their manipulators broadcast. THEN when a worthless project does come in at several times the original projected cost (charged to Joe Public the long suffering tax payer and produces worthless amounts of energy, instead of people going to jail they get pats on the back for “trying”. There are a lot of people following the Pied Piper of Climate Alarmism. Fine I do not care, ruin your children’s future but do not drag me and my own with you to the cliff!

Ian D. MacDonald
April 6, 2019 3:16 pm

well is it being built or not , I stilll can;t figure it out.

R Shearer
Reply to  Ian D. MacDonald
April 6, 2019 5:35 pm

Do they still have birds and flying insects?

Ron Long
Reply to  R Shearer
April 6, 2019 5:45 pm

Yes, they’re on the menu. Do you like them rare or well done? Smoked?

Reply to  Ron Long
April 6, 2019 7:45 pm

They only come one way, well done.

Reply to  Worc1
April 7, 2019 2:29 am

Burnt to a crisp?

Reply to  Ian D. MacDonald
April 7, 2019 7:56 am

Well perhaps they’re looking at crowdsourcing it if you’re interested. I’d love to help out but sunk my spare change into Peter Ridd’s court case so I’m a bit short at present.

a happy little debunker
April 6, 2019 3:26 pm

After the $90 million gift to not create a hot rocks operation, a $110 million subsidy to not create a solar plant makes perfect sense….

Chris Hanley
Reply to  a happy little debunker
April 6, 2019 5:40 pm
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 6, 2019 6:40 pm

Ha, Great stuff CH.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 6, 2019 7:08 pm

Careful Chris,

the media here actually stated that the mega battery at Jamestown would also benefit the town because of the increased tourism.

“Okay, Kids. Get in the car. We are going to Giant Battery World!”

Yeap. That’s going to my the kiddies count the days till the next school holidays. I hope they pre-buy their tickets.

David Chappell
Reply to  Craig from Oz
April 6, 2019 9:41 pm

That is a well-established Australian pastime that started with the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour and includes such gems as the Big Funnel Web Spider.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 6, 2019 9:00 pm

I’m amazed they still haven’t scrapped that wave power thing. So it washed up on the rocks and is rusting away in place. Such a disgrace, this should be front page news somewhere.

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
April 7, 2019 3:49 am

best bet is they drag it out a ways and make it yet another “reef” for fish to hide in
of course keeping it where it is IS a good reminder of the folly;-)

Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 7, 2019 8:10 am
Reply to  a happy little debunker
April 7, 2019 3:47 am

closely followed by the Vic spend on wind/solar- actually topped I think at 900mill so far?

Joel O’Bryan
April 6, 2019 3:27 pm

but, but, but … the sun is free power. Right?

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 6, 2019 3:31 pm

of course it is…..if they didn’t have to get it to my hair dryer

Reply to  Latitude
April 6, 2019 5:12 pm

Hahaha. Now that is the best ever response…..+97.

Johne Morton
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
April 6, 2019 3:53 pm

Yes, it evaporates water all the time and makes plants grow. We should leave it at that.

Paul r
April 6, 2019 3:28 pm

To answer your question the media are no more than left wing climate change propagandists that’s why.

Ron Long
April 6, 2019 3:32 pm

It looks like Crescent Dunes spends about half of the year where the sun doesn’t shine (and this time I don’t mean Canada).

Bryan A
Reply to  Ron Long
April 6, 2019 4:04 pm

Especially at night

Rud Istvan
April 6, 2019 3:32 pm

I wrote a long detailed (and referenced) analysis ‘Solar grid parity’ for Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. Explaining why neither PV nor CSP have a remote chance of reaching grid parity (equivalent LCOE) with CCGT—ever, anywhere. Even with LNG prices twice natural gas from Russia or US.

The failure to secure funding for this Australian project is unsurprising, despite all the incentives proffered, after the multiple failures (both physical and economic) of CSP elsewhere—Spain, US, Chile—in supposedly equally favorable solar environments.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 6, 2019 4:19 pm

Knowing that France would soon exhaust its domestic hydrocarbon sources, in the late 1950s-early 1960s, then French President De Gaule ordered the French state electricity company to build full size demo facilities for various forms of electricity generation other than from coal for a competitive evaluation.
This led to e.g. the tidal generator in Brittany and the CSP site in the Pyrenees mountains.
And also to a nuclear demonstrator.

As we know, all the alternatives found badly wanting France chose the nuclear option and has never looked back.

Lee L
Reply to  tetris
April 6, 2019 4:32 pm

Duhh….The science is SETTLED.

nw sage
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 6, 2019 4:47 pm

I want to know if the big loan the Aussie gov promised was ever issued. Since non government money could not be found and the project cancelled will that money ever be paid back – if it was ever actually loaned?

Michael F
April 6, 2019 3:33 pm

“TIM FLANNERY: There are hot rocks in South Australia that potentially have enough embedded energy in them to run the Australian economy for the best part of a century.”
“Geodynamics Limited is pleased to announce that all conditions precedent for the $90 million grant awarded to the Company under the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Demonstration Program (REDP) have been satisfied… The $90 million grant was initially awarded to Geodynamics in November 2009 and is the largest amount awarded to any project under the program. ”
It failed and another $A90M bit the dust. If you need money just go to South Australia there so many gullible people there they will give you anything to want – just promise them you know how to harness perpetual motion and the money is yours.

Warren Inman
Reply to  Michael F
April 6, 2019 3:49 pm

No, it was the Labor government who are/were gullible. They were the ones who decided that all the coal-fired plants in SA would close, hence out huge blackout a few years ago. Welcome to planet Jay, run by a the king moron.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Warren Inman
April 6, 2019 9:24 pm

And who voted them in and keeps voting them in. Weatherhill ( is this his real name or did he change it to that.) seems to have a lock on his job no matter how much he advertises his ineptitude.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
April 7, 2019 3:52 am

weatherall and he got OUTED last elections but too late for the cost and damage he wrought

bit chilly
Reply to  Michael F
April 6, 2019 5:50 pm

Talking about dim Tim, how are the desalination plants working out ?

Reply to  bit chilly
April 6, 2019 6:09 pm

Desalination plants “working”..?

Reply to  ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
April 7, 2019 3:55 am

maintenance cost HUGE some issues and they just got used first time in years in Vic..pushing water rates up 40 a yr or more for all even us who dont benefit from pipeline water.
melb reservoirs over 40% which isntlow but they switched the desal on

Craig from Oz
Reply to  bit chilly
April 6, 2019 7:14 pm

Don’t need them anymore.

Perth became a Ghost Metropolis, remember? No Perth means lower water requirements means no need to use desal.

Tim is heaps clever like. He studied dead animals at uni. He knows stuff.

Reply to  bit chilly
April 7, 2019 8:20 am

Last I heard he was up Queensland way trying to clear away all the water to find the drought underneath and mumbling to himself that children will never know what snow looks like. Why do you ask? Are you a bit short of water?

April 6, 2019 3:34 pm

This thermal power plant was to have replaced the now demolished coal fired power station which used coal from the nearby town of Lea Creek.

The owner who still owns power stations in other States decided that he could not compete against the heavenly subsisted renewal energy which is about 40 % of this States power supply.

He offered the whole power station to the State Government , a Labour Government for $1, but the very Green government sais “No thanks”. He then demolished it.

This was before the wild weather blew over the very poorly constructed and cheap towers from the distant windmills and we had the big black out.

Initially the system handled it, but then the remaining windmills shut down as the wind was too strong.

It was then that the connector to the “Dirty” brown coal power station in Victoria disconnected.

Today we have banks of portable diesel generators filling in for when the Green electricity does not flow. Such is life as Ned Kelly is said to have said before he was dropped on the scaffold.


mad john
Reply to  Michael
April 6, 2019 4:17 pm

Dear Michael

You should check your facts before posting opinions if you wish to be taken seriously.

1. The SA blackout did NOT occur because “very poorly constructed and cheap towers” blew over. The “cheap” line, the 132kV stobie pole line stayed intact during the hurricane force winds. The three tower lines did fall down but were NOT the cause of the blackout.

2. The cause of the blackout was the wind farm protection systems which did not ride through an initial series of faults due to protection settings not being correctly set. They instead immediately and incorrectly turned themselves off.

3. This caused an overload of the inter-connector to Victoria, which also turned itself off as a consequence.

4. In turn, this caused the gas fired power stations that were operating in SA at the time to be overloaded.

5. The towers blew down once the state had gone black, not before.

Mad John

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Prince Edward Country
Reply to  mad john
April 6, 2019 6:21 pm

“The cause of the blackout was the wind farm protection systems which did not ride through an initial series of faults due to protection settings not being correctly set.”

They were set to the factory default values. There was nothing “incorrect” about them – that is what the factory recommended. It was only realized afterwards that other settings would probably have prevented the failure of the system.

The current settings will cause a system failure in other conditions – which surely will happen sooner or later.

Reply to  mad john
April 6, 2019 6:29 pm

“wind farm protection systems which did not ride through an initial series of faults ”
So it was entirely a coincidence that the ‘hurricane force winds’ happened at the same time of the ‘protection faults’.
And that if the ‘faults’ hadnt happened the towers blown down would have led to the windpower system to collapse anyway, which would have led to the interconnector shutdown as well.

Seems from the buying of the battery backup indicates there were more basic system design failures from relying on wind and its ‘protection systems’
In my country the hydro is the grid basic stability protection and wind is the switchable supply . I have seen one of the farms, and often only 1/3 are turning in low to moderate wind. Oh an the interconnecter between the islands is HVDC not the AC that South Australia has.

But I see SA want to upgrade the interconnector to NSW grid , as the existing one is low capacity and cant supply the major metropolitan area

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Duker
April 6, 2019 11:50 pm

“But I see SA want to upgrade the interconnector to NSW grid , as the existing one is low capacity and cant supply the major metropolitan area …”.
And that demonstrates a typical lack of courage of convictions.
Similar to the rooftop + battery enthusiasts like erstwhile prime minister Turnbull, they rarely go the whole way and cut themselves off from the grid.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 7, 2019 4:00 am

and the huge cost of complete new lines TO nsw get glossed over, als the treclearing etc required the greentards manage to ignore too….

Reply to  mad john
April 7, 2019 3:58 am

nd the fact huge hi voltage towers blew over AT ALL? isnt the issue?
wether the wind duds tripped prior or not the towers down gtedd failures
funny the OLD towers in all the massive storms and mini tornados that hit in those areas now and then never brought a tower down? lines yes towers no

Wayne Raymond
April 6, 2019 3:35 pm

Australia is lucky that the results of the Nevada plant were available, to give a dash of reality to the dream. $650M is a lot of money to waste.

Reply to  Wayne Raymond
April 7, 2019 9:35 am

The little secret about the Crescent Dunes facility it they burned natural gas to “warm up” the thermal systems before the sun came up. It also produced some of the electricity they were obligated to provide per contract. The last I heard, they were “trying to do better” to minimize the use of natural gas, but I am not sure where they stand on that effort.

April 6, 2019 3:36 pm

Pity governments don’t do the same due diligence that the investors did. Oh with government it is always someonelses money.

April 6, 2019 3:48 pm

If it aint broke, don’t try to fix it.
(Unless somebody else is paying for your wakydoodle experiments).

Reply to  Tim
April 7, 2019 6:38 am

How long does this have to go on? Solar and wind have only niche applications. They will never be fit for purpose as base load power.

mad john
April 6, 2019 4:01 pm

Possibly a victim of intermittent generation’s own success. The viability of the project within S.A’s own terms has probably been destroyed by the new High Voltage Inter-connector to New South Wales. This inter-connector will do two things – allow the export of, relatively speaking, cheap wind and solar to New South Wales and the import of even cheaper coal fired generation form New South Wales when intermittent generation is unavailable.

By increasing the transfer capacity between the states, the intermittent share of the larger market drops and therefore the premium for dispatchability also drops, which was the big selling point of the proposal.

Happily, I believe that the federal government money was a promise only and contingent on the company meeting certain deadlines; which they haven’t.

April 6, 2019 4:30 pm

There seems to be something similar at Port Augusta at the present.
I have tried their tomatoes and they seem ok.
We will see how it goes.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  robl
April 6, 2019 7:46 pm

Badly it seems if you read between the press releases.

Your first link claims they are making a loss of about $2m a year. Probably nothing.

Then we have the wikipedia article that was clearly written, spoken and authorised by Sundrop Farms for the Sundrop Farms Party, Canberra, and displays the usual Wiki fact flaw of simply throwing endless references against an article – despite what these references actually say – and then telling everyone it is a balanced and reliable article. Take for example the line that the “highly productive “farm” … is now producing 10-15 per cent of Australia’s truss tomatoes”, that lists an article from The Weekend Australian published in late 2016 that states nothing of the sort.

Mind you, what is also amusing is that the Weekend Oz fluff piece also states that “…carbon dioxide levels are elevated in the glasshouses to boost crop production by about 30 per cent” and if that isn’t Environmentally Friendly Gaia Botherers wanting to have their CO2 cake and eating it too I don’t know what is.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
April 7, 2019 4:03 am

wasnt sundrop using warmed water from the coalplant to run into the greenhouses for winter growth?
reckon they were and figured theyd go broke when that got taken away

Reply to  Craig from Oz
April 7, 2019 3:39 pm

‘Take for example the line that the “highly productive “farm” … is now producing 10-15 per cent of Australia’s truss tomatoes”’

That was the line they were using when the pal reviewed big announcement was made about the project (Big Gummint and Big Biz arm in arm). A comforting thought for all tomato growers in Oz, particularly those scratching a living on the plains north of Adelaide out Virginia Two Wells way who no doubt wouldn’t have minded some taxpayer Greening like that.

Tom Abbott
April 6, 2019 4:33 pm

Well, what’s the plan for supplying the electricity this solar plant was supposed to provide?

I assume there is a need for the electricity, so what are the Australian authorities going to do now?

April 6, 2019 5:03 pm

The total amount of energy storage capability for the project will be a massive 1100 megawatt-hours (MWh), at a much lower cost than battery storage.

Let’s see … A car battery costs a hundred bucks and stores a hundred amp hours. That’s a buck an amp hour.

To be at all cheaper than battery storage, they would have to build the plant for 1100 megabucks.

Even picking a relatively easy target, they miss.

The excuse will be, “When we’ve got the technology worked out, this will be truly amazing.” If I had a buck for every time I heard that one …

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  commieBob
April 7, 2019 6:19 am

Amp-hours on car batteries are at 12V, so 100Ah is 1.2kWh. That’s $83/kWh, $83,000/MWh.

Lead acid batteries do not take kindly to frequent deep discharge, so you probably need double capacity. Their most important role in a car is supplying 100A for a few seconds to the starter motor.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
April 7, 2019 11:33 am


High Treason
April 6, 2019 5:08 pm

A song written to commemorate the first anniversary of the South Australian wind debacle:-
To John Browns body:-
South Australian Labor they had a fancy plan
Blow up power stations to appease the climate scam
When the wind it blows too hard, the power it goes down
They’re crashing to the ground.

Windmills for South Australia
Windmills for South Australia
Windmills for South Australia
They’re crashing to the ground.

It is 2 1/2 years since the debacle.
If you think about the economics of the solar scheme- double the building cost and 1/3rd the power makes the power 6 times as much in cost for the consumer. This totally destroys the household budget and company profits, which is where wages and taxes come from.

kent beuchert
April 6, 2019 5:12 pm

It’s not as though there wasn’t an identical power tower running into all of its problems before finally getting the ax in the U.S. You might say that Australians are not really strong researchers into new technologies.

April 6, 2019 5:20 pm

Tonopah isn’t a success story. It doesn’t produce electricity as advertised and also requires fossil fuel to keep it at ready temperature when the sun goes down (added after the fact). But you don’t hear that figured into the output of the site because it’s too embarrassing as well as reduces the effectiveness of the technology. Some serious poor engineering took place in the design. It also cooks birds in flight as a side effect along with providing pilots with a navigation by sight impediment. Just another shoot, ready, aim by the so called environmentalists. These are some of the “plans” put in place to free us from fossil fuels but all they have done so far is prove we aren’t ready yet. No matter, we’ll keep throwing money at it until something (hopefully) works and then we’ll declare how smart and “sustainable” we are. Meanwhile nuclear is proven and effective.

Curious George
Reply to  markl
April 6, 2019 5:44 pm

Fossil fuels apply to Ivanpah (Google’s darling), not Crescent Dunes. Crescent Dunes has a molten salt heat storage which causes problems.

Flight Level
April 6, 2019 5:21 pm

In the 1920, things got even more zantic. A hydroelectric dam across the strait of Gibraltar.
Worth reading on Wiki :
Sounds fit to be the next project of AOC.

April 6, 2019 5:23 pm

I wonder how many birds they’ll fry?

Donald Kasper
Reply to  Fred
April 6, 2019 6:40 pm

Enviro dobbies are too stupid to demand their insect friers and then bitch they are loosing all their butterflies. No shit Shirlock.

Steve Ziker
April 6, 2019 5:28 pm

Ah Yes, Tonopah – the Solar Plant that cannot run without a gas fired Generator to keep the Salt molten! Perfectly situated to blind airline pilots over Nevada and at its peak, provides less than 30% of design power! Las Vegas would have done better to build a small gas Generator close to Las Vegas (Transmission line construction was NOT included in the package price of Tonopah) at 1/4th the price and would be 100% reliable for Peak Power usage. And the designers later commented , “We were unaware that cloud formation would seriously affect the installation!” And I thought selling beachfront property in Nevada was a Scam!

George Mihailides
Reply to  Steve Ziker
April 6, 2019 6:38 pm

Oh damn Steve, you have me pissing myself with laughter at that.

Donald Kasper
Reply to  Steve Ziker
April 6, 2019 6:42 pm

Their chemical engineering model did not work was their problem so their design is total shit. Very few clouds to be a problem in Vegas, and most are high altitude cirrus.

Steve Ziker
Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 7, 2019 8:36 am

Actually, the amount of cloud cover near Tonopah was calculated to decrease sunlight to the mirror array by almost 30%. Tonopah is located near mountains and NOT in the middle of a wide area desert and is about 85 miles from Las Vegas, which IS situated in a wide area of desert!

Reply to  Steve Ziker
April 7, 2019 2:15 pm

Not really significant but Vegas has more mountains surrounding it than Tonopah.

Flight Level
Reply to  Steve Ziker
April 7, 2019 12:41 pm

Never flew over one of them. The nearest one would be Ouarzazate, where the power plant is about 10 miles NE from the airport. My guess is that they won’t vector you in that sector, there’s a very confusing page-deletion directive concerning one of the closest routes, Q401.

Right. Unless hot and circulating molten salt, which can be other than kitchen salt BTW, turns to what it is: Stone.

Last but not lest, molten salts re very corrosive. Programmed obsolescence by design.

What not to like ?

April 6, 2019 6:14 pm

I think they’ll have better luck keeping the molten salts liquid by burn 1 pound bills/dollars than using sunlight. Especially at night.

Reply to  Rhs
April 8, 2019 8:33 am

Perhaps burn the Bolivar. There are plenty floating around the streets in Venezuela!

April 6, 2019 6:27 pm

Nuclear seems to be the way to go.
The scary part would be spending 5 billion dollars over the 5 years of construction, only to learn the design is already obsolete.

Donald Kasper
April 6, 2019 6:37 pm

First of all any imbecile that constructs a plant with a full ring of mirrors where one-third face northerly to capture no sun at all, needs their head examined or is just plain stupid. 180 deg or 245 deg arc at most.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 6, 2019 6:54 pm

You forgot that in the southern hemisphere the sun is in the northern sky Facing south is to face away from the sun

Javert, Chip
Reply to  Donald Kasper
April 6, 2019 8:54 pm


Ones facing north capture “dark energy”.

Robert of Texas
April 6, 2019 6:40 pm

This posting got me curious…and OMG what I have been reading:

“Does South Australia need two back-up power stations?…While load shedding is best avoided, truth be told, it’s not the worst sort of blackout. Individual homes or businesses are rarely without power in a load-shedding blackout for more than 45 minutes…”

And they accept this? I would be livid if my power were disappearing for 45 minutes in the heat of a Texas summer because my d**n government was too stupid to plan ahead properly.

“How will these (9 fossil fuel) power stations operate? In the first instance, the Government will source nine General Electric aero-derivative turbines from US company APR Energy. These are trailer-sized units which operate on either gas or diesel and are capable of very quickly producing about 30 megawatt (MW) of power each (a total of 270MW, or roughly 10 per cent of average demand).”

Apparently they are using diesel “temporarily” until they get permanent sites up…So they tore down perfectly good power plants to build green energy ones, and now those need a huge expensive battery AND 9 fossil fuel backup power generators. Oh boy…did my Australian cousins get taken to the bank or what…

“Do we need these AND world’s largest lithium ion battery?…Batteries can also be used to prevent load shedding, and the SA Government has indicated it will have the power to command Neoen’s battery to do just that. But batteries have limitations — if used at full output, the battery will last for less than an hour and 20 minutes. It then has to be recharged to be used again, and quickly discharging/recharging batteries can limit their shelf life. In contrast, so long as they have fuel, the gas generators will be able to keep running for much longer.”

Full Article:

So…the big expensive battery can supply power for less than 1 hour and 20 minutes…but if you keep doing that, it destroys the battery so use the fossil fuel generators as much as possible…?

I am just without any more words to describe the mental anguish this “logic” has caused me.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 6, 2019 8:11 pm

Some backstory for those who live somewhere not labelled The Blackout State.

In 2016 the entire state when black. Some people, like me, only lost power for about 6 hours, while others for several days. Since those other places were not near the nice cafes the media liked to drink at and were not filled with people who voted for the (then) Labor state government this minor point was casually ignored.

So then Musk turned up and, having carefully done his sums in advance, told the Premier that he could built South Australia a massive battery within 100 days of the contract being signed or it would be COMPLETELY free. The Premier, having read somewhere that Musk was clever and wanting to be seen to be Fixing The Problem(tm) and well as having his photo taken with Musk, agreed and before the rest of the state could say ‘feasibility study’ the ink was on the paper.

A bit later someone pointed out that the battery was a great place to store albino pachyderms and probably wouldn’t protect the state should the lights go off again, and so a new truck load of cash was exported in exchange for the backup generators.

Why all this feel good but ultimately useless stuff? Two words – State Election.

State elections in SA are on a fixed four year cycle and had there been anything remotely close to another black out before the next one the Labor government would not have just been thrown out, but more than likely beaten to death in the streets. Everything was a band-aid designed to prevent the voters from rioting.

Sad thing is for the most part it worked. SA did not go dark and while Labor was booted out in 2018 it was not a ‘State Bank’ level of public anger. Steve Marshall, the new Premier, also unfortunately shows little big picture understanding of how to fix power system (cough – BASELOAD – cough) and instead is trying to push for individual homes to have their own battery systems. Sigh.

The sad and disturbing things is I have spoken to people here in SA who don’t even remember the 2016 blackout, a fact that unfortunately seems to validate the band-aid solution. Just keep problems off the front page for a month, wait till the Footy Seasons re-starts and no one remembers what happened.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
April 6, 2019 9:02 pm

Unfortunately SA is relying to heavily on the interconnector and with Victoria going thru it’s own supply issues the problem is going to get worse.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Craig from Oz
April 6, 2019 11:56 pm

The average usage charge in SA (the state exporting uranium from the largest ore deposit in the world) in Nov 2018 was A$0.43/kWh or US$0.31/kWh comparable with Germany @ US$0.33/kWh, the highest in the world.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
April 7, 2019 4:14 am

my 80 yr old friend who had no water(electric pump from bore) and no ability to cook or get cool and lost all her food in fridges and freezers sure remembers.
power co gave her sweet FA compensation too.
yes she had insurance but excess and power outs arent covered anyway

Don K
Reply to  Craig from Oz
April 8, 2019 6:45 am


You actually need that battery. As does any region that is heavily dependent on bursty wind/grid-scale solar/wave power. You may need more than one of them

Trouble is that it’s an answer to questions like “What happens when the sun goes behind a cloud?” It’s not an answer to “How do we keep the grid going if the windpower is unavailable for many hours/days?” It’s nowhere near big enough for that problem. But it could possibly give you enough time to get a CCGT Natural Gas plant fired up. (Assuming that your local CCGT generator has sufficient natural gas available to pick up the load — which apparently was not the case at Pelican Point,SA in July 2016)

Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 7, 2019 4:10 am

let me add to it for you
our govt sells our LNG to OS markets for a pittance per joule while we pay around a dollar per litre ofr car use and over a dollar a kilo for 100kg home use gas supplies.
then they had the utter hide to say hat gas was running out.
turncots govt then “stepped in” to ensure supply and price continuity
ha ha ha its STILL costly and were getting shortgages claims ongoing
in spite of Leigh creek finding new gas reserves recently

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 7, 2019 1:56 pm

Keep in mind that this “load shedding” is as much to preserve the entire grid, to keep the entire system from collapsing, much less prevent the temporary “brownouts” (that is the term we here in Texas use to describe what Aussies call “load shedding”). Imagine that – 9 trailer trucks, diesel or gasoline-operated, would stand between us and the whole grid collapsing. No American would stand for such third world nonsense for long, much less Texans like us, Robert. That is what we can expect, though, if certain politicians can snake their “Green New Deal” into place in this country.

Robert of Texas
April 6, 2019 7:29 pm

Interesting…I did a quick profit analysis (using Crescent Dunes published numbers) and some basic guesswork, and this power station SHOULD generate a profit at the going rate for electricity in Nevada. I am not endorsing building giant mirror farms all over the desert, but if this all works perfectly they generate a profit after 25 years.

Assumptions: They generate (at least) 500,000 MWh annually, their operating costs start at $10M and do not go up more than 5% per year, they have a guarantee of at least 1% rate hike per year (per contract), they sell all the power they can generate at a fixed rate… (i did not subtract out any loan interest as I don’t know it).

Net Profit: $293,000,000 or about an average of $11,700,000 per year. That’s a 32% return over 25 years.

Now I get to watch for all the things they didn’t expect to happen – to happen. They won’t have a hurricane, so that is good! Earthquake? Battery leak or explosion? Pitting of the mirrors causing the production to fall, attack of giant sodium eating gophers… who knows?

Reply to  Robert of Texas
April 7, 2019 9:53 am

I worked near Crescent Dunes last summer. It seemed to operate about 90% of the time … you can tell, because it is a huge eye-sore. The tower–when the mirrors are focused–is super bright, like looking into the sun. Which is a real pain in the backside, as it is located in your face as you’re driving South on highway 95. Being in a low humidity desert, and a very long straight road, it is in your face for about 30 minutes.

There is apparently a very large maintenance crew to maintain the 10,500 mirrors, each about 1200 square feet. The salt pool is pretty exotic stuff, and costs around US $30M. Soon after the plant opened, the salt leaked and they lost some huge percentage. Up until that time, they had actually operated at capacity for 3 months of the first 5 years. After the salt pool repair, they’ve not met design capacity.

The region is desert, but under influence of Summer monsoons which blow up out of the Gulf of Mexico. So that when demand is highest, they get some very cloudy days. Workers told me there are a lot of bird pyres in the mirror field, which is like 3 miles wide.

Some seem to think the mirrors are fixed, they’re not. They rotate independently, and can likely fry something in space if the operator wanted. When the plant is down, the mirrors are pointed to project a light cone straight up off of the tower. Because summer is fire season for California, and Nevada is down-wind from California, most summer days are hazy with smoke. This is how you see the light cone, with the light reflecting off of the smoke.

Reply to  Michael
April 7, 2019 11:04 am
Larry in Texas
Reply to  Michael
April 7, 2019 1:59 pm

Wow – this whole project sounds weird, like something out of The Twilight Zone.

pat childs
April 6, 2019 7:42 pm

Australia actually produces a huge amount of solar energy: solar hot water heaters. They are excellent. But the idea that this country can run on solar and keep coal and gas in the ground is truly absurd. Go with your strong points, not your dreams. Put them on hospitals, government buildings etc. They can save real money, not cost money.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  pat childs
April 7, 2019 2:53 am

Believe it or not, they wok in New Zealand too.

Reply to  pat childs
April 7, 2019 4:21 am

you can use the old style copper coil water heaters or home make them for a few hundred as opposed to 3k or more for PV and costs of wiring and when grids down so is your power anyway

Patrick MJD
April 6, 2019 8:31 pm

We are repeatedly told by the “Giffs” of the world that securing funding for coal power will be impossible. Seems like that is also true for renewables now. So how will SA power the itself?

As far as I know, SA has no industry to speak of, so where does it get it’s revenue from to blow $650mil?

Reply to  Patrick MJD
April 7, 2019 4:19 am

a very few mouthy protesters and the get up scumbags lobby loudly and long and have scared the morons in banks from loaning to coal etc
then the banksters want to be seen to be green so promote the scams further for feelgoods in the delusion people will sap to them for social conscience.

nope its int %rates and bank fees that sway peoples moves

and your’e right we used to hve a LOT of industry in SA not anyore 2 huge carplants closed washing machine fridges etc all gone we now have NO whitegoods makers in aus. no cars and little else thats required if SHTF oseas and supplies go awol.

Don K
Reply to  Patrick MJD
April 8, 2019 7:34 am

So how will SA power the itself?

Kangaroo powered treadmills attached to generators … at least until PETA-Australia finds out about it.

Patrick MJD
April 6, 2019 8:32 pm

Fortunately, Jay Weatherill is no longer in power. I suspect his state Govn’t revenue came from federal GST (Tax) redistributions.

April 6, 2019 9:29 pm

This technology is really not much better that wind power with respect to power delivery.

I’ve been writing about power generation from all its sources now for 11 years, and when this technology was proposed as the way of the future to equal coal fired power generation, it always amused me somewhat.

Spain was a big implementer of these plants, so what better way to prove how poorly they really did generate power than to do some analysis on those plants in Spain. So back in mid 2013, I did that analysis, and compiled a chart of their 24 (at that time, as it’s now 34) of those CSP plants. I found that the combined Capacity Factor across all 24 of them was just 28%.

If any of you wish to read it, it’s at the following link.


Martin Cropp
April 6, 2019 10:38 pm

Australia was once known as the lucky country. I moved from New Zealand and lived in Sysdney between late 1980 and late 1990 leading corporate restructure.

Australia lost its way early this century, after all, all you had to do was dig a hole and sell the contents of that hole. The backbone of its economy is still digging holes.

There are a lot of good hard working people of many ethnicities in Australia and they deserve better leadership than the suit wearing over educated morons that call themselves politicians. Cmon Aussies get off your butts and rid yourselves of these idealistic know nothing Buffoons.

Maaaate, you can do it.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Martin Cropp
April 7, 2019 12:24 am

The lucky country is basically that; Australia was lucky. Not through any proper planning or direction, like finding $5 on the street!

“Martin Cropp April 6, 2019 at 10:38 pm

Australia lost its way early this century, after all, all you had to do was dig a hole and sell the contents of that hole. The backbone of its economy is still digging holes.”

Not for a long while now. The backbone of the Australian economy is housing. All eggs, one basket!

Geoff Sherrington
April 7, 2019 12:39 am

The expensive, sad failures of one electricity experiment after another must be near the point of investigation of accountability of decision makers, plus the fraud that often goes with it.
All of the basic engineering to provide Australia with the lowest cost, most reliable national power scheme has been known for 50 years. The competitive economics of nuclear power are clear. Only politics prevent its immediate start.
Apart from nuclear, we have intimate experience with fossil fuel generation. It used to provide us with the bulk of that highly reliable, low cost electricity that attracted global industry and investments. Only political decisions caused some plant to be dnamited.
Politics are non- optimum are every turn.
Instead of informed, firm, optimum political decisions we have about incomprehensible mish-mash of moves that seem designed to appease all sorts of special pleaders, except it seems, the older white male experienced engineers (and the female ones who performed better or as well).
These matters rule above all politics.
1. Australia must immediately withdraw from the Paris climate agreement as fast as is procedurally possible.
2. All aspects of the Renewable Energy Targets must be stopped and confined to Oblivion. They are purely political and offensive to taxpayers of different politics.
3. So called Renewable energy projects must cease to have special favourable treatment, such as unique subsidies, low cost government loans, official preferences for use of Renewable energy. Apart from some small, well-known applications, their fundamentally engineering is hopeless, old fashioned and surviving only through political decisions.
4. Australia must advertise open doors for all of the nuclear fuel cycle. No cash subsidies or incentives, mainly a removal of present barriers that are entirely political.
What a difference these simple moves would make. Apart from putting more money in just about every pocket, we would have a new base for restoration of individual pride and enthusiasm to succeed. We are now too close to loss of these critical properties. Geoff.

Bill in Oz
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
April 7, 2019 1:41 am

Thanks Geoff, you have pretty well summed it up.
Mid you the Greeenists are so blinded by their ideology that they cannot see any of this.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
April 7, 2019 8:51 am

All that’s needed is to mandate any tenderer for electrons to the communal grid be able to reasonably guarantee them 24/7/365 (ie short of unforeseen mechanical breakdown) or they can keep them. Immediate end to State sponsored dumping.

Coeur de Lion
April 7, 2019 2:13 am

How is that battery charged?

April 7, 2019 5:54 am

Regarding the towers which fell over, just take a look at the photo of these towers. They are very small and thus cheap. The big normal towers never did fall over., so who paid flor the El Cheapo small towers. Possibly the windmill owners.


Jerry 2
April 7, 2019 7:35 am

Politicians, according to their own statements, are usually “non-technical”. They need to have reliable, intelligent, technical advisors. How to select such people?

I know. By the size of their political contributions. What could possibly go wrong?

Gary Palmgren
April 7, 2019 12:18 pm

13% of rated output sounds about right.

We had a project to sell transparent Fresnel lens for solar, mostly for linear systems. The technical guy on the project reported that 10% of rated output is typical for reflective systems vs. about 50% for transparent Fresnel lens system. A 1° error in local shape on light weight reflectors results in a 2° error in the light beam. It misses the collector. A 1° error on a light weight, transmissive Fresnel lens results in insignificant error. Now add wind and light scattering from dust and reflective systems have always performed poorly.

Fresnel systems are limited in size so multiple units must be used and one cannot have one massive collector. They still must track the sun accurately and this makes them too costly compared to flat panel collectors. If there was a multi-junction solar cell that could run an 10-20 suns without expensive cooling they would be viable.

April 7, 2019 2:36 pm

I have not seen anybody mention that the Australian renewables finance ORG ARENA –
= Australian Renewable Energy Agency – a year ago said [concentrated solar thermal (CST) technology could be a commercially viable form of dispatchable renewable energy within a decade.] English translation – not viable now.
At the end of the ARENA media release they say [ARENA is also currently working with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), in consultation with the Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency (IPFA), to provide the Commonwealth Government with advice on Solar Reserve’s 150MW Aurora CST project proposed for Port Augusta, including its suitability for a federal loan of $110 million.]
Lots to read between those lines. Note ARENA exists to pump Commonwealth taxpayers dollars into renewables.

April 8, 2019 11:46 am

This is really frustrating for the people that see these projects as sales pitch policy scams on the front end like watching a car accident as it unfolds in front of you. The advocacy groups are the ones that race away from the scene of the accident to cause more wrecks.

ferd berple
April 8, 2019 11:58 am

a A$110M loan from the Federal Government.
I see 110 million reasons to at start the project. And then give up when the money runs out. Just make sure some of the funds are donated to the right political parties. Don’t want anyone asking for the money back.

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