Australian energy security on the brink

Rafe Champion, Independent Scholar, Sydney

The Australian electric power supply is on the edge of a cliff because one more substantial coal-fired power station is scheduled to close in 2023. Then for the first time we will need  input from the wind at the evening peak, certainly in very hot and cold weather. If this input is not available there will be blackouts of greater or lesser extent.

The bottom line of this argument is that RE cannot replace conventional power in Australia because at the lowest level of supply of sun and wind they deliver no power. That is the choke point for the grid, like the point where the air supply to our lungs is cut off by choking or drowning. To keep the lights on there must be enough conventional power available to meet 100% of the demand, 24 hours a day/365 days a year.

In recent years Australia has led the world in the rate of building RE capacity. Inspired by this rate of progress the Federal Opposition (Labor) party and the state governments (Labor and Liberal alike) have committed to push for zero emissions by 2050.

Given the choke point problem this target is not realistic because we have no neighbours to help with power if we are short and we have no nuclear power despite holding a third of the known reserves of uranium in the world.  That is a result of the international campaign against nuclear power in the 1960s and 1970s that was successful in Australia http://www.the-rathouse.com/2011/Grover-Power.html

Background

The introduction of intermittent energy into the grid doubled the retail price of electricity and hastened the demise of 12 coal-fired power stations since 2010. Almost 6GW of capacity left the  integrated grid covering South Eastern Australia (excluding Western Australia and the Northern Territory). That is a significant loss in comparison with the high point of demand at dinnertime that is around 25GW for most of the year and over 30GW in high summer

After the last coal power station closure in 2017 the  Energy Market Operator (AEMO) issued a warning that we have next to no spare capacity to handle peak loads.  At the same time the CEO, Ms Audrey Zibelman, was giving talks around the country to say we can have cleaner, cheaper and reliable power all at the same time. Ms Zibelman was imported from New York by the ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to oversight the transition to green energy.

Blackouts in some Melbourne suburbs in January 2019 demonstrated the lack of spare capacity when a coal-fired generator failed and took some 500MW out of the system on a hot summer afternoon.

The cliff

Another station providing almost 2GW of coal power is scheduled to close in 2023. Then for the first time the intermittent providers will be called upon to supply energy regularly to keep the lights on, unlike the situation where they were surplus to requirements and just displaced conventional power when the sun shone and the wind  blew.

This discussion focuses on the capacity of the wind system because the lack of solar power after sunset is a given at the current state of storage technology. The question is: How much wind capacity is required to substitute for 1.8GW from Liddell Power Station?

We have 7GW of installed wind capacity at present with some 7GW under construction. On the face of it, 14GW looks like a good cover for 1.8GW of lost coal power but everyone in the industry knows that the supply over a year is about 30% of installed (plated) capacity. That shrinks 14GW to 4.2GW and that still looks good compared with 1.8GW but that is not the end of the story.

The critical number for the viability of continuous, secure power from the wind, in the absence of mass storage, is the lowest point of the wind supply. The average is no more helpful than the installed capacity if the grid depends on wind power as a vital contributor, not just an addition to an adequate supply from other sources.

Several analogies can be used to reinforce the point. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Your car will stop running when the petrol tank is empty regardless of its capacity. The supply of air that your lungs received in the previous years of your life will not help when you are choking or drowning; that is the choke point and death soon follows.

Warning signs. The low points in the wind supply.  

Did the planners and politicians take any notice of the warning signs that there is not enough reliable wind to make the RE transition without feasible and affordable mass storage? The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) does not publish in its information on cloud cover and wind but it surely the vital data would have been made available on request from the Government or statutory authorities planning to spend tens of  billions of dollars to subsidise intermittent energy.

Extended adverse weather events have been reported in the past , for example in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia where:

“A drought of a very different kind occurred in March and April of 1934. Because Lameroo sits above our underground water supply, windmills (wind pumps) were used to draw water to the surface for stock water and personal use – windmills paved the way for Mallee agriculture. The period from mid-March to the end of April was almost completely windless; therefore no water. Farmers were soon desperate for stock water……. http://www.malleehighway.com.au/html/lameroo.html

In recent times the AEMO with a continuous record of the power delivered from all the wind farms attached to the South Eastern Australia grid. Paul Miskelly used that data for the calendar year 2010 to find that the total wind output across the entire grid fell rapidly to zero or near zero on many occasions in the year.  Some of the episodes involved multiple falls and rises in quick succession.

  • During the first 6 months of the year, there are 58 intervals where the output falls below 2% of the installed capacity.  The longest such interval is 229 consecutive 5-minute time steps, or 19 hours approximately. This event occurred in May.
  • During one such event, on May 18, on two occasions, the total output actually dropped to slightly below zero, the first starting at 2.50 am and lasting 40 minutes, the second commencing at 4.35 am and lasting for 70 minutes.
  • For the entire year, there are 109 such intervals of varying length, comprised of a total number of 1867 5-minute intervals, totalling 155.6 hours, or nearly 6.5 days.
  •  

The net result is that a fleet of new-build fast-acting OCGT plant, of comparable capacity to that of the total installed wind capacity, constantly operational in standby mode, is required to balance wind’s mercurial behaviour. (Miskelly, 2012).

The wind fleet in 2010 consisted of 23 wind farms with a total capacity just short of 2GW and as the number of sites increased there was an expectation that the supply would become more reliable. John Morgan reported that the situation was much the same in the 12 month period from Sep 2014 to Sept 2015 when the capacity of the wind fleet was approaching 4GW. He found 29 days in the year with the fleet delivering less than 10% of capacity. The lowest was 2.7% and there were seven sets of successive low wind days. https://bravenewclimate.com/2015/11/08/the-capacity-factor-of-wind/

The collective capacity of the SE Australian windfarms has now passed 7GW (in early 2020) and the problem of reliability persists, even to the extent of occasional wind droughts. Mike O’Ceirin, an independent analyst,  has unpublished information collated from the AEMO records over a seven-year period that show an average of 15 episodes per year when the delivery is 6% or less of the installed capacity.

The AEMO data in recent months show that the supply frequently falls below 10% of installed capacity. 10% is by no means the lowest level of supply but it provides an instant guide to the amount of power coming from the installed capacity as the supply falls towards the minimum.

In December 2019 there were eight episodes in the month when the supply fell below 10% of installed capacity and one where it was below 5%. In January the numbers were twelve and three, for February nine and two, March six and two, and April so far nine and three. The longest durations for the low periods were 16.5 hours on 18-19 April, 13.5 hours on 13 April, 9 hours on 29 Feb, 6 April and 7 April, 7.5 hours on 31 March and 7 hours on 29 December.

All of the long “dry” spells were potentially disastrous for the power supply if wind was required to make a contribution to meet the demand in the grid and this is a point that has so far eluded the wind proponents who look at the good days and announce that we are making progress towards a green future.  

RE supporters pin their hopes on storage by batteries and pumped hydro to fill the gaps between the peaks of wind and sun. Clearly battery storage on the scale required is out of the question for the foreseeable future and much the same applies to pumped hydro in Australia.

The ambitious Snowy2.0 pumped hdro project is under way and it could possibly function in partnership with the existing windfleet to provide 2GW of continuous power. Going on to replace the rest of the coal fleet would require some six or seven times the current capacity of wind power and six or seven Snowy2.0 equivalents without any suitable sites available for that scale of development.  

In any case Snowy2.0 will not be completed for many years and urgent action is required to find almost 2GW of reliable power from other source before the next coal station closure that is scheduled for 2023.

The proponents of wind and solar power apparently either cannot or will not appreciate the logic of refutation. A single (true) fact can refute a universal proposition. One first black swan refutes the notion that all swans are white. The proposition that we can run the grid on RE is refuted by a single period when there is not enough RE to run the grid.

How often are we prepared to have the power supply fail? Infrastructure like drains and flood levies are built to withstand events of various frequency – 10 years, 20, 50, 100 years. Facilities like major bridges and dams presumably have to be designed to handle just about the most severe events that can be envisaged and the electricity supply should have the same evel of reliability. It can’t be allowed to fail three times in a month which is what would have happened in SE Australia in April.

References.

Anero site with data from the Australian Energy Market Operator https://anero.id/energy/.

Paul Miskelly (2012), Wind farms in Eastern Australia  – recent lessons. Energy & Environment 23 (8).     https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1260/0958-305X.23.8.1233

128 thoughts on “Australian energy security on the brink

      • There’s an easy solution. Just have the national legislature declare Australia an Entropy Free Zone.
        Do it by unanimous consent to show mother nature you really mean business.

      • I agree, it is about time they are done away with. Yes, even the zero-ith and forth laws. Instead we should adopt P-hacking so that we can data-mine to find what-ever we want. This will make the world so much better. Just let me play with that data set and I can show how much better things will be in the future. Give me enough and you can watch the Elephant’s trunk wiggle.

        • Yes bye, get rid of fossil fuels and die. These fools must know that not one single wind mill or solar panel can be made without fossil fuel.

    • Carbon capture anywhere near civilisation is an invitation for a catastrophe which could cause loss of life on a scale comparable to a large nuclear explosion.

      The following is a description of what happened when a natural carbon capture system which operates on the scale being contemplated for thermal plant carbon capture went horribly wrong. People died up to 15 miles from the epicenter of the disaster.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos_disaster

      Like I said, when carbon capture goes wrong, loss of life can occur on a scale comparable to deaths which would occur if a large nuclear bomb was detonated.

      • Nasty stuff CO2, it’s one of Natures/The Supreme Diety’s jokes that something essential to life can kill silently and efficiently.

      • Question – the link provides info re: tons of co2 released. What does that translate to re: ppm?

      • Eric,

        The Lake Nyos disaster was due to CO2 vented from volcano being captures at the bottom of a lake. When the lake had an inversion, the CO2 escaped at atmospheric temperature and pressure and flowed into a valley, suffocating people and livestock.

        Captured CO2 is transported and stored at supercritical or close to supercritical conditions. Any escaping CO2 is a jet of pressurized gas that immediately forms dry ice instead of creeping around into lowlands. Is it worthy of respect? Of course. But, respectfully, I think the Lake Nyos event is not a good example of what would happen from a release of captured CO2. We have been using captured and natural CO2 for decades in the US for oil recovery without any such disasters.

    • Solving problems that don’t exist with solutions that don’t work.

      When oh when will Sid finally get an investor so that he can stop trolling this site looking for one?

      • Pfft. Photosynthesis is for amateurs. Calcification is the way Mother Nature does it when she’s serious about it.

        Photosynthesis may lock up carbon for weeks, months, decades and centuries (maybe even for millions of years as coal). Calcification locks up carbon forever.

        If humans are stupid enough to want carbon sequestration then, the only way to do it right is calcification. Don’t even bring up the subject of carbon capture unless that’s what you’re talking about, anything less is rank amateurism.

          • GregK,

            “… limestones and carbonate-altered rocks that are a few thousands of millions years old”

            Hmmm, how old is the Earth? Oh, a few thousands of millions years old.

            Kinda sounds like forever to me, at least in a practical sense. Plus, the amount released by volcanoes is a very small percentage of what’s trapped in the Earth’s crust. It might even be a smaller percentage than that of CO2 in the atmosphere.

            When it comes to “carbon” capture and storage, storing it as carbon dioxide is dangerously stupid. Photosynthesis is a much better way to do it because, humans can use the products created to enhance and enrich their lives. However, if long-term storage is the goal, nothing comes close to calcification in terms of safety and longevity.

            Anyone who advocates CCS with carbon dioxide gas is, to my mind, a dangerous lunatic who needs to be locked up for the safety of other people. They deserve all the opprobrium we as a society can muster.

    • https://ipolitics.ca/2011/01/11/carbon-injected-underground-now-leaking-saskatchewan-farmers-study-says/

      Here is a C- capture project in Saskatchewan (I believe the worlds first) that turned out to be a mini taste of a manmade disaster in the making. I worked with Paul LaFleur (the consultant engaged to investigate by the affected landowner) thirty years before this. He is a Colorado School of Mines grad and a highly respected geologist. Of course the company and government vigoroysly disputed this, but I believe they discontinued injection eventually.

      • Gary,

        This was debunked years ago. The CO2 was natural, not leaking from the injected CO2. I have met the scientist who developed the method used to prove the CO2 was natural from isotopic analysis.

  1. Looks like we’re going to get a very vivid demonstration of why renewables are not the answer. Very soon. Thank you, Australian greenies, for committing to the destruction of your own dreams. As they say, be careful of what you ask for.

    • Not so fast. Shouty (Morrison current Aus PM) will be out on his hear next election which is going to be around 2022/2023. He is not popular with his handling of the summer bushfire season and COVID-19. I suspect we will see a Labor(ALP)/Green coalition again which will be the end of Australia as we know it. The ALP have committed to a 50% RET and a 50% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050.

      The climate comedy never ends in Aus.

      • As for ScoMo’s popularity, the most recent Newspoll showed him with a 68% approval rating!
        COVID-19 is so now, and bushfires are so 2019.

        However, all that is completely irrelevant to what will happen when the next election comes around.
        Remember – “A week is a long time in politics” (Harold Wilson, British PM)

        • What is the average life span of an Australian PM? About 2 years I think. Keating was correct. Australia is now a banana republic!

        • Polls mean nothing. Polls in 2019 showed an ALP outright win. How wrong, thankfully, they were.

    • The error in this article is the assumption that the renewable systems are intended to work. The entire green dream is that industry in the West ceases and that Australia is reduced to subsistence farming with towns with occasional intermittent unreliable energy much like the third world. It seems that by 2023 their dream will be close to fulfillment. I am sure the Chinese will continue taking Australian coal and in return will supply any consumer goods that the politicians want that Australia can no longer produce itself.

      • Ian W: “that Australia can no longer produce itself.”

        So, pretty much anything that requires manufacturing? Or is a substantial drawer of power?

        • I would think basket weaving would probably still be possible and building yurts
          But anything that requires heavy industry and reliable baseload power will cease to be feasible from 2023. Note that the renewables do not provide sufficient reliable baseload power to reproduce more renewables with all the steel and concrete required. So even replacement renewables will need to be imported [from China?] at the end of their surprisingly short service life.

          It is inescapable that this is intentional deindustrialization of Australia

          • I disagree I think Australia will be just fine in the years to come, once China makes it official and takes over. The first thing the CCP will do is get rid of and stop paying all the lefty loon politicians that destroyed the energy infrastructure and made it possible for them to take over. Then they will build coal power stations. Lots of them.

          • Seriously though the aim both here, the UK and elsewhere is to push up the cost of electricity to render any industry where the cost of electricity is a factor (i.e. just about anything I can think of!) uncompetitive cw the Marxist wet dream, communist China. Unreliability is of course an added bonus. EVERYTHING needs that.
            Welcome to Africa. Get ready to buy a diesel gen-set for your business and if you can afford it your home or stock up on candles. Finally, it isn’t the Chinese in China, its the Chinese Marxists running China. Marxists are everywhere, all signing off the same satanic hymn sheet. They work together. They love democracy. Destroying it that is.

      • Ian:
        Exactly.
        The intent is to crash the modern capitalist market system with the unspoken but definitely
        intended effect of depopulating the Earth. That will fix inequality since everyone will be poor.
        And finally we can then all call each other ‘comrade’.

        • The Socialist ANC South African government has recently declared that coming out of the Covid lockdown will be an excellent opportunity to introduce “Radical Economic Transformation”. This idea, rejected by voters in the past, is supposed to give control of EVERYTHING to the ANC by sweeping nationalisation. The ANC has already proved themselves incapable of running any economy, by the complete inefficiency of all of the State-Owned Entities (such as railways, power, post office, and even their diamond mine)!

  2. It’s going to take a series of catastrophic failures to get the people stirred up enough to put a stop to all of this idiocy. I still can’t believe that the citizens of California are not already in armed revolt because of the blackouts they have been seeing the past two years.

    What this is going to cause is a widespread installation of residential generators fueled by fossil fuels (kerosine, gasoline, natural gas, etc). If you have some extra cash now is probably the time to invest in companies who sell this equipment and install switch equipment for when the power is interrupted.

    • The main reason Californians haven’t already revolted is because the vast majority of them have already left the state! Those that remain are too brainwashed with Nirvana ideology to care!

  3. When there is no wind, adding another 100% wind capacity will still not provide any power.
    The real idiocy of these folks is that the additional required reliable capacity using natural gas
    will add insignificant carbon emisssions to the grid. They are hung up on the notion that only 100%
    renewable is OK and that no carbo nuclear is not OK. Actually the next generation of small modular molten salt nuclear reactors are superior to wind/solar in every conceivable fashion : cost, safety, reliability, environmental footprint, etc etc. Australians are allowing their bias against nuclear to paint the next nuclear technology as similar to the old conventional nuclear technology, which it is not.

    • no its simple, you just add wind capacity elsewhere because “the wind is always blowing somewhere” and that power is easily transmitted wherever you want it just via hand waving and rainbows and stuff.

      next problem

    • Col Australia’s total population is just over 25million. Little kids don’t know and don’t care how the lights come on. Older kids have been brainwashed in our mainstream education system to believe that the only way to save the earth from impending doom is to swit8to 100% renewable energy. Same applies to university students only on steroids. They get out there to protest about things that were inspired by Greta, and like Greta they have no clue about the reality of renewables.

      That leaves the adults. Not alot out of the adult population that falls within the 25 million have a clue about energy other than what they are fed by the MSM which is almost exclusively BS. Our governments mandated against nuclear energy decades ago, of course this form of energy has improved significantly. Whatever they think about available forms of power, sadly nuclear is not even in the mix.

      Coal Fired Power Stations have been pretty much our main form of reliable power right across Australia and they aren’t only decommissioning them, they are blowing them up!

      Trust me Col there are large numbers of sensible Australians who think that nuclear energy is really the best way to go.

  4. One of the difficulties of any commercial or business decision is the concept of sunk cost. We’ve spent so much we can’t afford to totally change tack as we’ve already spent so much. Michael Moore’s film is quite clear renewables cannot do the job as you need 24/7 backup and if you have 24/7 back up why do you need renewables at all. That why unless by some miracle renewable energy can be stored a system that includes renewables can never be cheaper than one that includes renewables and base load. So get rid of renewables and use only base load ( preferably coal or gas) but if you believe in the global warming propaganda then put in nuclear. We didn’t really need a Michael Moore film to expose the dishonesty associated with the renewables agenda. It is the greenies failure to push for nuclear that lays bare the lie that is pushed by extinction rebellion and the green left that the target is not emissions And global warming but social and political changes incorporating a more egalitarian and socialist global community. If it was about emissions, nuclear represents a known technology expending a quantifiable amount of funds to produce a consistent and regular 24/7 amount of power. In short, medium and longer term renewables cannot compete in terms of price and reliability.

    • One of the difficulties of any commercial or business decision is the concept of sunk cost. We’ve spent so much we can’t afford to totally change tack as we’ve already spent so much.

      You misunderstand sunk cost. It is exactly that – sunk. It plays no role in forward decision making. The relevant question going forward is cost/margin/risk of plan A vs cost/margin/risk of plan B.

      • Sunk cost.

        You have a gasoline engine car that is paid for, and although the gas it uses costs more that electricity to charge an EV (although with falling oil prices and rising electric rates, not exactly clear), if you purchase an EV to “save money on gasoline”, you are making loan payments on replacing something that maybe had another 10 years life in it.

        Closing down coal plants before the end of their economic life is like that. Rate payers are stuck with the bills.

    • We defintely needed Moore’s film to drive the issue into the open. Whether that changes anything is yet to be determined but it is fun watching the climanistas rip into one another.

    • More egalitarian means everyone is digging roots and grubs for their next meal. Everyone except the socialist leaders, who are more equal than everyone else.

  5. I can order up a prophesy:
    The wind farms will be completed at great expense. As blackouts loom large, OCGT equipment will be installed on a ASAP basis. Now OCGT is expensive, and doing an install “As Soon As Possible” will add substantially to the cost. Add all the extra costs and electricity prices will skyrocket.

    The Australian politicians will drone on that green is sustainable and cheaper.
    The people will agree that paying 3x or 4x or 5x for electricity is indeed cheaper because they were told it was. No one will ever complain, or even notice that paying more is not cheaper.

    Industries that use a lot of power will close up and disappear. Nobody will be able to understand why. “Times Change” and “It Just Happens”, people will say.

    End prophesy:
    Am I a bit hard on the people of Australia? I think not. This electric power story has been going on for years now, with many examples of bad results. The political class is going full ahead, and the people who vote for them seem to have no understanding that this is a Bad Thing.
    So it will play out through the end game.

    • ”Am I a bit hard on the people of Australia?”

      As an Australian, I say not hard enough. We are run by a bunch of feeble gutless morons. Certainly not leaders, unless that means leading us into the dark ages.

        • ghl I’m not sure that Scott Morrison even realises that his ‘quite Australians’ are not left of centre and that they voted him in because they do not want renewable energy.

    • “..The Australian politicians will drone on that green is sustainable and cheaper.
      The people will agree that paying 3x or 4x or 5x for electricity is indeed cheaper because they were told it was. No one will ever complain, or even notice that paying more is not cheaper..”

      Yes indeed. And…

      “War is peace.
      Freedom is slavery.
      Ignorance is strength.”

      ― George Orwell, 1984

    • Basically you have just described the flow of events in South Australia , and the developing in Victoria.

      There was a moment of irony in South Australia when a successful plastics recycling plant closed due to escalating energy costs. People just shrugged and moved on.

    • “The Australian politicians will drone on that green is sustainable and cheaper.
      The people will agree that paying 3x or 4x or 5x for electricity is indeed cheaper because they were told it was. No one will ever complain, or even notice that paying more is not cheaper.”

      This is a classic comment ! I hope you don’t mind if I quote it.

    • “Am I a bit hard on the people of Australia? I think not.”

      no, we deserve morons because we are morons as well, unfortunately it is not only us, all western world.

      H.L. Mencken:

      “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

      H.L. Mencken:

      “The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”

  6. Once again, Australia, the world’s crash test dummy for renewable energy proves it is up to the task.

  7. My problem is that as a Victorian and Australian, I have no where to lodge a protest vote. The people that see through the inanity of closing down base load power when there is no viable alternative have been stymied by the lack of voting options at state and federal level. I would dearly love to see a new political party developed that allowed the many thousands of sensible Australians to voice their concerns about the trashing of our electricity system.

    • As another Victorian and Australian, I despair that we are governed by people who listen to witch doctors and their voodoo magic. For eg; Tim Flannery formally of the climate ”council” who declared that it would never rain again, but, looking out the window as I write, I can concur with the BOM that it is the wettest start to the year since records began and probably the coldest too.
      Perhaps we need to go through the pain of freezing in the dark before we can drive a stake through the hearts of these climate scientology morons.

      • mmmm both damp and cold for May aint it? normally I like autumn, cool crisp days and blue sunny skies. Not so much this year. Still dams a getting fuller, the rivers are flowing and the countryside green.

        I fear the populace wont ever break from the 2 party system (its easier than thinking) and we wont wake up to grid wind and solar until we get smacked in the face with mass blackouts that take a long time to get back from.

        In the meantime build home generation capacity and changeover facilities where its feasible and have a plan to survive at least for a week or so (we arent big on disaster preparedness in Oz but Corina may change that thinking, at least for toilet paper)

        • Cold and wet here, for sure. Our dams are full; the larger one is too full for approaching winter as the plate normally comes out on the 1st June. The water race is running and it all looks more like normal September conditions, except for the autumn-coloured leaves everywhere.

          Who was the clown in the Vic gov’t who said there was no point in building new dams in this state because there wouldn’t be enough rain to fill them? We’ve had 452.8mm so far this year and there were 228.0mm in April alone; a lot of that in the last few days.

    • “My problem is that as a Victorian and Australian, I have no where to lodge a protest vote.”

      Pull a Child from Public School & Start Homeschooling is only solution until next generation is educated in spirit of freedom nothing will change.

      • Five?

        About 6 times the time I have been quoted.

        Weatherill (the state leader at the time) must have thought all his fantasies had come at once when Elon sold him that turkey.

        Also, while we are on the topic of the South Australian Mega Battery, anyone in Australia actually been to see it? The words Tourist Attraction were been thrown unironically around during the build stage. Was going to help put Jamestown on the map, so it was.

        (actually… I am a Crow Eater and I just realised I don’t know exactly where Jamestown is… East of Claire maybe? On the river?)

        (oppps, North of Claire. My bad. North East of Snowtown.)

        So that was Weatherill our last Premier. Unfortunately although we swapped political parties at the last election Marshall is also very green when it comes to energy, actually campaigning on battery storage to the home and building a new interconnecter to NSW so that we could export (!?!) green energy out of the state.

        Sigh.

        The only plus side out of living in the Blackout State is that since the 2016 event I have been stockpiling so much foil and tinned food ready for the next blackout that I hardly needed to shop when the Wuhan Panic first started.

        • The silly game about exporting is that with Victoria also looking to “replace” coal with wind, you’ll end up with both states having a surplus when the wind is blowing, forcing curtailment in both, and both will simultaneously be in shortage when the wind is at a standstill on a hot summer day at 9pm with no solar. More diesel generators.

      • Methinks you really know Eric that the battery is more about stability and FCAS than any real contribution to basic power delivery apart from gaming the system (charge low/sell high) while it waits to do useful work. I am sure the public sees it as some kind of saviour/security blanket though.

    • It does ! For a whole 8 hours of Adelaide peak demand…..then the lights go out if their bludging inter-connector to coal fired mains doesn’t kick in….
      Oz is so stupid allowing this garbage to be proliferated across the country…
      The banana republic shall return….

    • I’ve seen remarkably little information on the design and purpose of the Jamestown SA battery. It stores roughly 100MW and cost about $50M(US).

      I think it’s purpose is threefold:

      1. It buffers occasional momentary low output from the adjacent 315MW (sticker capacity) Honesdale windfarm. Seems a good idea. Wind is bursty. Seems to me that if you expect your grid to work reliably, no respectable windfarm should be without a battery backup. Do not forget to price the battery into your cost estimates when developing a wind project.

      2. It allows time for the grid operator to get backup generation on line when a regional period of low renewable output and high demand is anticipated. Since South Australia has been known to use 3GW at peak demand, the battery by itself can power the SA grid for 60min/(3000MW/100MW) = 2 minutes. Pragmatically, there will surely be some generation besides the battery online so the battery probably allows more time than that. … Surely ….

      3. Some of the battery capacity is reserved for speculative power storage in order to profit from occasional periods insanely high power pricing in the National Electricity Market — which appears to operate on rules straight out of Alice in Wonderland. I suspect there are alternative approaches to grid management that would make this less attractive, but what the hell do I know?

      • I have spent quite some time analysing the battery. It doesn’t respond to changes in the output of the adjacent wind farm. It does attempt to charge up during periods when prices are lower and discharge when they are higher, at least on a net basis. Its main activity is in the so called FCAS market, where it is used by changing its rate of charge and discharge in response to changes in frequency across the SA grid. Those changes reflect second to second changes in the supply demand balance across the whole grid, and are transmitted instructions from AEMO, the grid operator. Most of its operations involve charging at up to 40MW and discharging at up to 30MW (the difference reflects its own use for loss and air conditioning to keep cool). Just occasionally it has been used to supply a longer more consistent burst of power when demand has been very high in a heatwave – but it soon runs out of puff in those conditions. That can be very profitable, as the price soars to over A$14,000/MWh.

        Noeon offer a widget that shows at limited time resolution what the battery has been doing here (scroll to bottom of page)

        https://hornsdalepowerreserve.com.au/

        You can also see its puny contribution here

        https://opennem.org.au/energy/sa1/

        Set a shorter time span and view at 5 minute resolution.

        It seems to use at least 200kW for aircon.

  8. If you look up “renewable energy” in an online dictionary, you will be re-directed to entries under “circle j&rk” or “cluster fv(k”

    • Isnt that cute Nick think the AEMO is credible.

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-30/grid-operator-looks-to-manage-solar-power-output-in-sa/12202004

      Of course they can maintain the grid with enough duplicated power sources and enough complex and unnessary management systems. With 75% RE generation and 25% real they will do nothing of the kind.

      A big shout out to the USA for blessing us with Audrey Zibelman to head up the AEMO. Jeez you must have been glad to see the back of her.

    • Nice try Nick. Bold mine:

      Australia already has the technical capability to safely operate a power system where three quarters of our energy at times comes from wind and solar energy generation

      That’s marketing Nick. 5 minutes once a year satisfies that criteria. Plus “already has the technical capability” is equally bullsh*t. “Technically” you could build hundreds of thousands of Tesla batteries at a cost that would bankrupt half the planet. Pfffft.

        • I’m reminded Nick of the Canadian politician who got caught in a police raid on an asian massage parlour. He claimed he was just there for a massage and all of a sudden this girl started taking her clothes off and he didn’t know what was going on.

          Who was he marketing to Nick?

          • That was Jack, jack Layton, but most definitely a looney tune lefty,a populist who luckily for us removed his carbon footprint from the planet before he had a chance to become Prime Minister.
            Of course, we have government-by-clown now so i’m unsure we won

        • It’s you that doesn’t understand Nick. Bodies like that the world over “market” to the politicians and the general public to justify their existence.

    • Nick, the only way wind & solar can be claimed to be cheaper than coal or gas is if the necessary attributed costs of running baseload backup plants 24×7 to prop up w&s are excluded from the costs of wind & solar production.

      • YES.. and they do that very well by quoting LCOE as the supposed level playing field comparator which it definitely is NOT… LCOE is a cost based on feeding power to the grid…NO allowance for WHEN….NO allowance for HOW MUCH….NO allowance for what the GRID REQUIRES at that instant so a solar supplier can get very good LCOE figures even though their input to the grid is shaped like halfa sine wave with NO INPUT for close on 12 hrs per day average, and very rarely reaching “PLATED CAPACITY” except for very small periods of time throughout the year.. WIND is almost as bad. as the article indicates… What I’d like to know is WHEN the AEMO are going to start contracting energy suppliers based on ability to feed into the Grid WHEN the Grid NEEDS the energy, and with sufficient capacity to service the USER DEMAND.. NOT based on LCOE which is biased towards when the SUPPLY can supply, NOT when USER DEMAND requires the power…RE LOVES LCOE because it is biased towards the supplier pushing into the grid on the supplier’s terms, NOT on the grid customers needs…

    • “Nick Stokes April 30, 2020 at 8:33 pm

      The AEMO has just released their REnewable Integration Study. The key message is that they believe…”

      That’s the key message and key word alright. Anyone can believe what they like however, when it comes to making enegry policy for the country, believing in something simply does not work and has proven to not work reliably enough. When we lose another coal fired plant in 2023 watch for the brownouts and rolling blackouts. Companies like Ausgrid can’t wait for it because its going to drive up energy costs so much people will be forced to chose to eat or cool/heat.

    • Nick what is the plan to deal with the well documented fact that the sun goes down every evening and there are several times in most months, certainly the five recent moths, when there is next to no wind?
      No amount of RE “some of the time” or even “almost all the time” avoids the choke point when the grid will die if it depends on RE.

    • Gee Nick, AEMO says that “…. up to 75% of Australia’s energy will be supplied by wind and solar.”

      I guess 4% is included in that statement.
      What about if we sacrifice a few more virgins, will the gods smile upon renewables more!

  9. Intermittent ‘renewable’ energy is not the problem. Nor is lack of ‘mass energy storage’. “They believe”…. is the problem. The problem is mass delusion. The problem is failure to acknowledge the unequivocal facts that are right in front of the noses of the deluded. The problem is snake oil salesmen and women selling a beguiling ‘renewable’ lie to the willingly deluded masses of the reality impaired, for fraudulent political and economic gain. The problem is the root cause of upcoming disastrous effects. As predictable as wet season flooding, dry season bush fires…. and electrical power outages when power is critically needed.

  10. Rafe,
    Yesterday AEMO released a report calculating how much penetration intermittent renewable energy could make into the NEM grid before failure from ptoblems with strength, frequency, generation mix and voltage.
    https://aemo.com.au/-/media/files/major-publications/ris/2020/renewable-integration-study-stage-1.pdf?la=en

    It is written in curious language. If you do a word search of its 75 pages for “fossil”, you get zero. For “fuel”, you get 2 relaing to fuelling renewables and one that mentions coal, gas and oil. At times they use word susbtitutions like (when applicable) “synchronous condenser”.

    Anyhow, give it a read and give us the pleasure of a later catchup here on WUWT. Please. Geoff S

  11. Can anyone please point me to the hard facts of whether renewables still have incentives, now that the Feds have declined to continue the large Renewable Energy Target (if my info from 6 months ago is accurate)?
    Are there any of these still in force:
    1. Regulations that favour renewables over (say) fossil fuels
    2. Dollar schemes that subsidise renewables more than fossil fuels
    3. Incentive schemes, such as eligibilty of renewables for certain $ handouts as for R&D, that renewables can get fut FF cannot?

    Or, since the start of year 2020 do we finally have an open book, level playing field so that the best man has a chance of winning? With paid propaganda and bias in teaching the remaining problems?
    Geoff S

    • AFAIK, RETs are still in place, 20%. There is still domestic subsidies, so there is still a lot of taxpayer money being fed in to the game.

      You know there is lots of free money around when a Turnbull is sniffing at the door.

    • Start here-
      https://publications.industry.gov.au/publications/climate-change/climate-change/government/renewable-energy-target-scheme.html
      Then the various States have solar battery incentive schemes-
      https://homebatteryscheme.sa.gov.au/
      Although the take-up is very ordinary because even qualifying for the maxm means tested $6000 subsidy it didn’t stack up. You may as well go all electric (avoiding an extra gas service charge) and chuck up 6.6Kw of solar panels for around $4000 and use that power to heat a cheap mains pressure storage HWS (heat pumps aren’t worth it) and then use any spare to run inverter aircon during the day to keep the ambient temp of your home pleasant at night.

      You can do that with a solar controller diverter- https://www.paladinsolarcontroller.com.au/
      Bearing in mind you now need to think long term whereby there won’t be any off peak power at night with the demise of coal and presumably gas too after that with the vision splendid. That sort of ‘storage’ blows away solar and Powerwalls etc even now just as it makes sense to use these unreliables for desal now.

      Electrochemical storage will never cut it although Tesla’s Big Battery at Hornesdale wind farm makes a motzah providing FCAS because of all the unreliables now. However that’s like getting the contract for filling in holes the Gummint dug in the first place and very nice work if you can get it as Mike Moore has discovered. Ditto providing 9 diesel generators that can consume 80,000L/hr of refined fossil fuels.

      Rational folk can’t make this stuff up but Nick Stokes the fires as he’s right into all this as are his peers who think electricity grids run on e-motion rather than engineering and economics. It’s true there’s nothing watermelons can’t do printing IOUs for it all but the day of reckoning is coming. Pity the AEMO having to watch the train wreck approaching but also dancing politically with the idiocracy that pays them. Dancing with the Devil.

  12. A thougth experiment.
    Assume that breathing air is metered and comes with a cost, similar to household electricity.

    A smart guy proposes a system that does that you can get the air for free, only drawback is that maybe once or twice a year, the supply will be withheld for maybe five or ten minutes.

    Any takers?

  13. Anyway, what is wrong with having unreliable electrical supply? So the grid goes down a few times each week. That happens all the time in some of the most developed economies of the world, Zimbabwe, Syria, Sierra Leon etc.
    What’s to fear?
    The odd thermal process plant going into solid mass destruction? Just replace all the solidified equipment with new. The odd process furnace solidifying, being destroyed by power outages, I am sure the owners will rebuild and never think about back up being needed. Just replace the kit, they know that works until the next week’s power cut. Time to rebuild the plant six months, time to destroy the plant another week until the next power outage, yes that will work….
    Only people that have never worked in industry, could imagine a world, where it is OK to be casual about energy security.
    If Australia does not maintain spinning reserve on its electricity grid, to take over from intermittent though mandated unreliable supply, such as wind and solar, the country will quickly evolve into one those developed economies I mentioned earlier, more Zimbabwe than Syria perhaps but a disaster whatever.

      • Hospitals will always have good backup diesel generator back up, because they must have reliable power.
        Its like all our communities across the far north of canada, jumping on the climate emergency bandwagon even though the only way all of them survive is burning diesel 24×7

        all garbage, all the time

        • Those diesel generator back-ups don’t run 24/7. It takes time to get them started and warmed up to operating temperature where they can carry the assigned load. How many will die on the operating table while that takes place.

          In my younger life I can remember a few large telephone central office switch buildings which had HUGE banks of backup batteries (some were made up of old submarine batteries) to carry the office over till the turbines on the roof could be brought on line.

          How many hospitals have enough back-up batteries to last for more than an hour?

  14. I was looking at the UK data a couple of days ago, wanted to confirm something I’d read. Using data from Gridwatch. Wind contribution varied from over 50% to less 3%. In the UK April is not well known as a low wind month.
    Also I confirmed that domestic and small solar PV is not monitored in grid data, so it must cause fluctuations across the grid which have increased in the last decade what is going in at the 33KV level and below is something the UK grid doesn’t meter.

  15. Springtime sees an abundance of activity when nature comes to life.
    Autumn is the opposite to spring. Autumn is defined by it’s stillness. There can be weeks without wind.

  16. Its not just the demise of coal that will lead to blackouts, large gas-fired plants are also ageing, and nobody is going to invest there with a continual threat of a Green Zombie Apocalypse. South Australians like to trumpet their wind farms, but the unsung hero there is the Torrens Island gas-fired station, which does most of the load following as demand and wind/solar vary during the day. A large part of the Torrens Island plant is set to close, with the ABC dancing on the grave and spouting green bilge about batteries:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-12/agl-holds-off-plans-to-mothball-torrens-island-power-station/11303268

  17. A few years ago I looked at the work of Prof Andrew Blakers in his studies on renewables use and pumped hydro potential for AEMO. He seemed to think there were a plethora of potential pumped storage sites, and that he only needed to show model short time scale levels of correlation and patterns of output (I.e. hourly) while ignoring longer term lulls. That allowed him to conclude that the storage required would be relatively limited, whereas it was easy to show that he underestimated by at least one order of magnitude. It also took little account of the need for a large generating capacity surplus in order to try to reduce the storage requirement. There were also some ambitious assumptions about the actual performance of turbines and solar (where suddenly most of it was going to be 1 axis trackers).

    Roger Andrews did the article at Euan Mearns’ site that kicked off the discussion and my own work, which I reported in comments.

    http://euanmearns.com/australia-energy-storage-and-the-blakers-study/

      • Of course the joke in Holland is that even damming the Rijn would provide very little hydro power and a lot of damage to commerce. His figure of about 4.5TWh doesn’t I think cover a bad run of years: I came up with about 30TWh needed for the UK, and over 10TWh for Australia.

        Incidentally, I did my own little study on “Far North Queensland” where I looked at Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, which rather debunked Blakers’ claims about FNQ as the saviour of Australia. Euan was kind enough to host a write-up:

        http://euanmearns.com/wind-and-solar-on-thursday-island/

        • Thanks for that, if you are prepared to spend enough money you might solve the storage issue for households and small communities with no industry to speak of. Beyond that – get real!

          Forget batteries, where in the world is large-scale pumped hydro working? That is a research question, not rhetorical. On my preliminary search I find that opinion is divided between the usual suspects and others. I seem to recall noticing before i got focused on this that Germany is closing pumped hydro projects.

        • It doesn’t add up

          Are you seriously promoting wind and solar? Did you even bother to watch Michael Moore’s documentary/movie Planet of the Humans?

          There is nothing positive to be said about renewables. They are destroying both the ecology and the economy. They are simply an investment labeled ‘green’ by virtue signallers, clever marketing.

          Follow the Money.

          • I am not promoting it Megs, I just want to get the best evidence around the world to demonstrate that it is not working. I have been spreading this paper around for the benefit of anyone who is interested in the fundamental reasons why it can’t work.
            https://media4.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/R-0319-MM.pdf

            Of course the people who most need to read that will not read it and my immediate objective is to explain the choke point problem as simply and clearly as possible for any one who can be persuaded to pay attention for five minutes. OK too long, I will eventually get it into a 2 minute video. In the meantime, these kitchen table efforts:)

            Why Wind Won’t Work to provide reliable power until we have mass storage.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GZWz998bBM&feature=youtu.be

            The German Trifecta of Failure with Green Energy: higher cost, less security, next to no CO2 reduction.

          • Thank you Rafe

            But my comment was actually intended for ‘it doesn’t add up’. I’m sure his/her handle must have caused confusion to others 🙂

  18. The problem is that once liberals get hold of your wallet they will empty it with subsidies for useless projects that do nothing but keep them in power, cheered on by the gullible.

  19. Too many Oz politicians have swallowed the Kool-aid .
    They have wined and dined with the UN,IPCC etc and been promised who knows what ?
    Some have made investments in RE and are making big $ .
    Oz voters would know or understand what is happening , they don’t read newspapers , just facebook and other social media is all they know .
    Probably is happening in much of the western world
    But Oz is the canary .

  20. Well, I don’t wish this on any of the good people of Oz (I don’t mean those who advocate for the RE nonsense – they will deserve the consequences that will unfold), but, IMO, there will need to be regular, massive grid failures caused by over-reliance on RE. The media will also need to actually come clean and report on the real cause of the outages, not just blame it on poor management or planning by the utility company. The wake up call will need to be loud and brutal given that the greens are completely dug in.

  21. The cost for Australian power is currently the highest in the world. And higher yet in the states with the greatest RE penetration. All hitting the lower rung worker the hardest.

    As the RE penetration increases, the cost of power will doubtless continue to rise. The result will be a total lack of manufacturing in Australia.

    All companies with high power costs and capable of leaving will leave. Those forced to stay, like mining, will seek cheaper and more reliable forms of power. I’m assuming they will contract with the gas producers to install and run OGCC units.

    The end result will be horrible to the Australian economy. And people will die. Australia will eventually turn to China for it’s salvation and China will move into Australia and build coal plants. Telling the greenies to stuff it.

  22. Smart grid is the answer. Just disconnect customers as necessary. The working class and lower middle class do not need constant electrical service. Just the government and elites.

  23. 30% availability is basically what we see from the system operator here in AB as well, AESO.

    I see in the April graph above that while it drops to almost zero several times, it also never goes above ~60%, compared to 97% for coal and gas

    All a bad joke, but appreciate the Australians providing this real world example that will further expose the ruinable lie for the rest of the world.

    Too many people simply don’t pay attention to words, but they won’t be able to miss blackouts

    • Pat Australians have the highest uptake of rooftop solar panels in the world. I believe we also have the highest electricity costs in the world. Even though our rooftop panels are subsidised it still costs thousands of dollars to install a rooftop system. People install the rooftop panels to reduce the cost of their electricity bill. We put in an array before we were educated on the negative aspects of solar, the summers are quite extreme in the out back, always have been.

      Here’s the twist, I just read online today that they are looking to restrict the feed from the rooftop arrays in all new installations. Of course you already have a limit on what you can feed into the grid, ours is 5kw. They are talking about having the ability to shut down the feed to the grid completely if they deem it necessary in the event of an unstable grid!

      We have an 87 mw solar plant near us (plenty more to come) and since the drought started breaking here in late January we have had four blackouts. Oh and last month they reduced our feed in tarrif and put up the price of electricity.

  24. This is all fixable (Yes, this will be satire).

    First you create a bunch of facilities to burn coal and capture the CO2… Use the CO2 generated to grow huge crops of grass in giant green houses. then use human labor to cut the grasses and burn those to generate electricity…by burning grass it becomes a green renewable solution. Of course we no longer have enough electricity, so ration it at say 1Kwh per person per day. Build giant battery farms to store the intermittent energy collected by solar and wind, and keep the batteries topped off with the grass-energy. If you read this carefully, there is no fossil fuels used directly to generate electricity here – so it all must be clean and green.

    No machines will be used in any of this other than the wind turbines and electrical parts for solar, oh and the steam driven generators. All coal and grass are harvested by hand ensuring lots of jobs. Import anything manufactured from China because that doesn’t count as pollution and we sent them all our manufacturing anyway.

    While I am at it… The U.S. sends AOC to Australia to save them from themselves. She bans all cars, trains, and planes making all of the above possible. Because there is no longer transportation in Australia, she has to stay there.

    The end.

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