Wind Power Obsession Sends South Australians Back to the Stone Age

stone age cave dweller

Amidst the panic and chaos being experienced by the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers – due to the unfolding and inevitable wind power calamity in South Australia – one of the newly invented catchphrases is “transition”.

It’s a term now employed by wind spinners, dimwitted politicians and gullible journalists; and is often coupled up with lines such as “interconnectors”; “rapidly improving battery technology” and “gas”.  Gas, apparently, is now seen as a “transition” fuel to a … ahem … fossil fuel free future and the interconnectors proposed would connect to coal-fired plant currently chugging away in Victoria and New South Wales [note to Ed is this ‘pure irony’?]

Last time we took a peek at the climate-calamatists’ websites, gas was right up there with coal as the source of all peril and evil on earth, so we’re not sure that the Chicken Littles will buy the line about gas being anything other than a ‘spawn-of-the-Devil’ fossil fuel.

And adding ‘fuel’ to the fire, the gas destined for this “transition” isn’t going to be used in highly efficient Combined Cycle plants, but squandered in gas-thirsty and highly inefficient Open Cycle plants that emit 3-4 times the CO2 per MWh of a modern coal-fired plant. [note to Ed, is this ‘double irony’?]

ocgt-process1.jpg w=640

Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) are literally jet engines, run on gas or fuel oil (diesel) or kerosene. The initial capital outlay is low, but their operating costs are exorbitant – depending on the fuel input costs (the gas dispatch price varies with demand, for example) operators need to recoup upwards of $300-400 per MWh before they will even contemplate firing them into action. For a wrap up on “fast-start-peakers” see this paper: Peaker-Case-Histories As to the insane cost of running them, see this article: OPEN GAS CYCLE TURBINES: Between a rock and a hard place

And the line about “transitioning” to a wind powered future with “rapidly improving battery technology” comes sprinkled with a fair dose of pixie dust: nowhere in the world is there an example of grid-scale electricity storage using batteries (of any description); not in Germany; not in Spain; not in Denmark; not in California; not in South Australia – or anywhere else stupid enough to attempt to run on sunshine and breezes.

Now that the mainstream press have caught up with the energy disaster that is South Australia, journos are, for the first time in their lives, starting to grapple with the tricky concept of electricity generation: terms such as “load following”; “frequency control”; and “grid balancing” are starting to find their way into the pages of the Australian Financial Review and The Australian.

These aren’t just fancy nouns and verbs of recent invention, they go right to the heart of whether customers at the thinnest end of an electricity grid get to enjoy electricity on demand, or at all.

What media hacks are starting to understand is that there is a world of difference between the quality of electricity produced by conventional generation sources; and that thrown occasionally into the grid by a wholly weather dependent source, abandoned centuries ago, for pretty obvious reasons – eg, SA’s wind farm’s efforts in April:

SA April 2016

It’s not just a question of delivering power when and where it’s needed; frequency control is a matter that determines whether a grid functions at all (see our post here).

Where the chaos and intermittency of wind power destabilises the grid (see our post here), it’s down to conventional generation sources that can ramp up output at the press of a button to keep the grid alive: “reactive power” that allows for the 50Hz frequency of the grid to be controlled and maintained around close tolerances.

In a place like South Australia, where wind power capacity tops 40% of its entire generating capacity, every time a breeze turns to a zephyr, voltage and frequency drops, which requires an instantaneous response from coal or gas-fired generators (hydro is exceptionally good at responding in an instant) – with recent efforts to rely on the chaotic delivery of wind power, those selling power for frequency control and load following now recoup a very solid premium for their service.

Remove that class of generator from the system and the wind cultist and his fellow travelers are soon left tossing chaff about the wonders of wind, while sitting freezing in the dark.

Here’s the AFR’s Mark Ludlow tackling the topic that, if not resolved fairly soon, will see South Australians and, quite possibly, a few of their neighbours enjoying life in the New Stone Age.

Climate targets to affect power reliability
Australian Financial Review
Mark Ludlow
11 August 2016

South Australia, NSW and Victoria could be hit with power blackouts over the next decade if coal-fired generation was removed to meet Australia’s new climate targets, warns the national energy forecaster.

A report by the Australian Energy Market Operator to be released on Thursday found if 1360 megawatts of coal-fired generation was removed from the National Electricity Market to meet carbon reduction targets it would have major ramifications for power reliability, despite the uptake of renewable energy.

As state and federal energy ministers prepare for an urgent Council of Australian Governments energy meeting next week, the AEMO report highlights the ongoing problems with moving from the more reliable coal and gas-fired generation to intermittent wind and solar.

It is the first time AEMO has modelled the implications of Australia’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The phasing-out of mostly brown coal-fired power stations in Victoria would have flow-through effects for the entire NEM, the report found.

This included the ability of Victoria to cover for the SA network when wind and solar was not producing enough electricity. It would also affect the ability of Victoria to help send excess generation to NSW.

The AEMO modelling predicted potential reliability breaches occurring in South Australia from 2019-20 and NSW and Victoria from 2025 onwards, assuming average economic growth.

“These breaches would most likely occur when demand is high [usually between 3pm and 8pm], coinciding with low wind and roof-top photovoltaic generation and low levels of electricity supplied from neighbouring regions,” AEMO chief operating officer Mike Cleary said.

While clean energy advocates point to the fast-moving renewables technology including battery storage to help deal with the removal of fossil fuels from the NEM, the AEMO report said this would not help reliability.

“Additional intermittent generation alone may not materially improve the reliability of the system,” it said.

“The withdrawal of synchronous generation such as coal and gas-fired generation is leading to the scarcity of support services in the NEM.”

The energy sector is dealing with renewables not providing the power system frequency of 50 hertz that is required for a stable service.

The AEMO report warned that some states such as South Australia were particularly vulnerable to “region islanding”, which means they could become separated from the NEM. This has happened to SA four times since 1999.

“In the rare event of the unexpected concurrent loss of both the Heywood Interconnector lines, there is a high likelihood of a full region blackout in South Australia,” the report found.

“The likelihood of a regional blackout after such a non-credible event increases as the region becomes more reliant on energy imports over the interconnector, and wind and roof-top PV generation, to meet demand.”

Renewable energy companies such as Infigen Energy – which runs wind farms across Australia including South Australia – said wind could provide the 50 hertz reliability if new technology was used or if there was a suitable financial incentive from government.

But this has been rejected by Energy Council of Australia chief executive Matthew Warren, who said renewables could not provide the frequency control services required 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the NEM.

“Intermittent generators do not provide power quality services, and if they did, it would only be intermittently,” Mr Warren said.
Australian Financial Review

studying candle

Q: what did South Australians use before candles? A: ‘electricity’

 

The AFR quotes the AEMO asserting that: “In the rare event of the unexpected concurrent loss of both the Heywood Interconnector lines, there is a high likelihood of a full region blackout in South Australia.”

SA has suffered total wind power blackouts before and most certainly will again. Total and totally unpredictable collapses in its wind power output, mean South Australians are now accustomed to routine load-shedding (dropping suburbs and whole regions off the grid to keep the rest running) and the odd state-wide blackout. Oh, then there’s the small matter of retail power prices which, for businesses have doubled in 12 months and which are all set to double again.

STT’s SA operatives have been reporting that whole regions have been blacked out for hours on end, several days a week over the last few months. One from the Barossa Valley (SA’s premier wine region) has reported 5-6 hour blackouts across the Valley twice in the first week of August, which has ‘enjoyed’ an erratic power supply for months now (this is what ‘load shedding’ really means – ie, no power at all for selected regions or suburbs, to keep the grid from collapsing entirely).

For more on South Australia’s journey to the Neolithic, back to the AFR.

Climate targets could lead to blackouts without coal, says AEMO
The Australian Financial Review
Mark Ludlow
11 August 2016

South Australia, NSW and Victoria could be hit with power blackouts over the next decade if coal-fired generation was removed to meet Australia’s new climate targets, warns the national energy forecaster.

A report by the Australian Energy Market Operator to be released on Thursday found if 1360 megawatts of coal-fired generation was removed from the National Electricity Market to meet carbon reduction targets it would have major ramifications for power reliability, despite the uptake of renewable energy. As state and federal energy ministers prepare for an urgent Council of Australian Governments energy meeting next week, the AEMO report highlights the ongoing problems with moving from the more reliable coal and gas-fired generation to intermittent wind and solar.

It is the first time AEMO has modelled the implications of Australia’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The phasing-out of mostly brown coal-fired power stations in Victoria would have flow-through effects for the entire NEM, the report found. This included the ability of Victoria to cover for the SA network when wind and solar was not producing enough electricity.

It would also affect the ability of Victoria to help send excess generation to NSW.

The AEMO modelling predicted potential reliability breaches occurring in South Australia from 2019-20 and NSW and Victoria from 2025 onwards, assuming average economic growth.

“These breaches would most likely occur when demand is high [usually between 3pm and 8pm], coinciding with low wind and roof-top photovoltaic generation and low levels of electricity supplied from neighbouring regions,” AEMO chief operating officer Mike Cleary said.

While clean energy advocates point to the fast-moving renewables technology including battery storage to help deal with the removal of fossil fuels from the NEM, the AEMO report said this would not help reliability.

“Additional intermittent generation alone may not materially improve the reliability of the system,” it said.

“The withdrawal of synchronous generation such as coal and gas-fired generation is leading to the scarcity of support services in the NEM.”

The energy sector is dealing with renewables not providing the power system frequency of 50 hertz that is required for a stable service.

The AEMO report warned some states such as SA were particularly vulnerable to “region islanding”, becoming separated from the NEM. This has happened to SA four times since 1999.

“In the rare event of the unexpected concurrent loss of both the Heywood Interconnector lines, there is a high likelihood of a full region blackout in South Australia,” the report found.
Australian Financial Review

[The AEMO Report is available here]

blackout

So this is what a wind power ‘transition’ looks like…

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Well AEMO has done what it should have done years ago and assessed the ramifications of removing ‘backup’ secure energy from the system.
    If it were done even as late as shortly before the Paris giggle-fest maybe the Australian Government would have seen the folly of not standing up for its citizens and stood for a sensible achievable RET, that is achievable without destroying this Nations future security.
    It is more evidence that the push for ‘renewable’ energy was never researched fully to ensure it was feasible.

  2. david mortimer says:

    I thought this article might be interesting. Supposedly a “grid scale” battery storage system actually in use in Alaska. Capable of keeping the city of Fairbanks “alive” for a “massive” 7 minutes whilst the back up diesel generators are started.
    Now I’m really impressed…..not!

    By Edmund Conway
    12:01AM BST 28 Aug 2003
    The world’s biggest battery was plugged in yesterday to provide emergency power to one of the United States’ most isolated cities.

    The rechargeable battery, which at 2,000 square metres is bigger than a football pitch and weighs 1,300 tonnes, was manufactured by power components specialist ABB to provide electricity to Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city, in the event of a blackout.

    Stored in a warehouse near the city, where temperatures plunge to -51 degrees Centigrade in winter, the battery will provide 40 megawatts of power – enough for around 12,000 people – for up to seven minutes.

    This is enough time, according to ABB, to start up diesel generators to restore power, an important safeguard since at such low temperatures, water pipes can freeze entirely in two hours.

    With no power lines between the state and the rest of America, Alaska is often described as an “electrical island” where tough environmental conditions and a sparse population make power cuts a way of life.

    Related Articles
    World’s first battery fuelled by air
    20 May 2009

    ABB’s battery, the first of its scale in the world, was commissioned by Golden Valley Electrical Association (GVEA) in Fairbanks, because the city suffers total blackouts every two or three years, as well as frequent swings in power supply.

    The earthquake-proof contraption contains 13,760 NiCad cells – bigger versions of those used in many portable electronic appliances including laptop computers and radios. Each cell measures 16in by 21in and weighs more than 12 stone.

    ABB, a Swiss company listed in London, is one of the companies set to benefit from the US’s decision to spend between $50 billion and $100 billion improving its power grid after the blackouts this month. This follows a difficult year in which asbestos claims, corporate governance scandals and financial and business difficulties almost tore apart the company.

    Peter Smits, head of the company’s power technologies division, said: “This battery will improve power reliability in an area where it is vital. We have entered it for the Guinness Book of Records.”

    A spokesman from Guinness World Records said: “Well this battery certainly looks like being the biggest in the world, but of course we will have to check all the evidence when it comes in.”

  3. Its so refreshing to see the likes of infigen and their lies they pedal being sat on their ass instantly. It’s what they have somehow always got away with but no longer .. it’s time to twist the knife as it sinks into their cold black hearts.

  4. Son of a Goat says:

    If some of our coal fired stations are ageing why aren’t they then replaced with combined cycle gas power plants. Their emissions are half that of a coal fired plants and unlike wind farms they are base load generators. Australia has a huge supply of gas.

    Surely the clean energy fund could be directed towards gas fired plants no matter what the greenies say.

    I Don’t hear of Japan being inundated with wind farms but they and China seem to have huge contracts for our gas at prices below what we pay in Australia.

    We in SA wont get a gold medal for being a good corporate citizen just a big placard on North Terrace with “For Sale” written on it.

  5. Crispin Trist says:

    Renewables. A whole new world of unreliability!

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