There is nothing quite like being right in a public forum: especially when your opponents run as a rabid pack of deluded zealots, occupying a netherworld – altogether free of both fact and consequence – driven by ideology; and devoid of common sense, logic or reason.
During the week just gone, the latest whole of grid collapse – that sent South Australians back to the Dark Ages – had wind worshippers defending their beloved with a maniacal fervour, not seen since the Spanish Inquisition, where blasphemers and heretics were burned alive, for any out-of-place utterance.
Anyone with the temerity to point out that stable electricity grids require an adequate supply of base-load power – backed up with ample reserve generation capacity available on demand – in order to maintain a stable grid, running at a constant voltage and frequency (within narrowly defined tolerances) – earned the wrath of the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers: whether they be the paid propagandists at the Clean Energy Council and Ruin-economy or the political class culpable for the mess, like SA’s vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill.
It was a delight, watching their pompous routine of ‘virtue signalling’, ‘moral posturing’, and ‘foaming-at-the-mouth’ attacks on PM, Malcolm Turnbull and journalists, like the ABC’s Chris Uhlmann; for doing nothing more than pointing out that wind power is unreliable and intermittent – which is hardly news to South Australians.
Propaganda can only work for so long. The moral of the story of the boy who cried ‘Wolf’ is not about telling a lie, it’s about not telling the same lie twice.
There were no consequences for the boy over the first lie, it was only after the second fib – when villagers worked out they’d been taken for fools twice – that the boy’s looseness with the truth came back to bite him.
To STT, Premier Jay Weatherill’s constant media protests that the blackout had nothing at all to do with wind power will quickly fall into the same category as the third lie pitched by the boy who cried ‘Wolf’.
As summer approaches – with the loss of the coal-fired plant at Port Augusta – SA faces more wholesale blackouts and widespread load-shedding, as daily demand spikes and wind power output collapses: think breathless, week-long 40C° plus heat-waves, when air-conditioners are being run at full throttle and there isn’t a skerrick of wind anywhere to power up SA’s fleet of whirling wonders.
In the aftermath, Weatherill – first among a confused gaggle of wedded-to-the-wind politicians – and a band of wind cult propagandists worked overtime to blame everything else, but the bleeding obvious, for South Australia’s ‘Black Wednesday’.
However, for some strange reason, their propaganda blitz overlooked the fact that SA’s chaotic wind power supply causes routine load shedding (aka ‘regional blackouts’), grid stability and frequency control problems that play out on Adelaide’s Seaford/Tonsley electric train line and elsewhere:
Nor was there any mention from the wind cult of the last major statewide blackout that occurred on 1 November last year, due to a sudden, massive collapse in wind power output (no transmission lines were down that balmy Sunday night; however, the interconnectors that were overloaded due to the total and totally unpredictable collapse in wind power output did go down – for reasons explained in our post here).
And the wind cult were altogether schtum on the chaos that reigned in SA’s power market during July, when repeated wind power output collapses sent spot prices rocketing from around $70 per MWh, all the way to the market price cap of $14,000 per MWh. On 7 July, during another total wind power output collapse, SA’s biggest employer, BHP Billiton was forced to pay $2.57 million in a single day to power its Olympic Dam mine, instead of the usual $250,000 (see our post here).
But, what will vex them most is that fact that there will more and more repeats of the same kind of power delivery chaos: chaos that is inextricably linked to the inability of wind power to add much to the argument when the wind isn’t blowing; and which makes the same pathetic ‘contribution’ when the wind blows too hard.
For those who are just catching up with what happened in South Australia on Black Wednesday, one critical fact – that was integral to the collapse of the grid – is that wind turbines automatically shut down to protect their blades and bearings when the wind speed approaches 25m/s (90km/h, 55mp/h or 48 knots).
While debate rages in the media about the effect that the forced shut down of wind power output had on the complete collapse of SA’s grid, it is unarguable that wind turbines were shut down as wind speeds increased on Wednesday, 28 September.
Take Snowtown 1, for example; which we have isolated in the graph below – care of Aneroid Energy:
At 9:00 am, Snowtown 1 is merrily producing close to 100% of its installed capacity of 99 MW. On 28 September one thing that South Australia wasn’t short of was wind, which reached gale force across the State, without relent: the hills at Snowtown were being buffeted by winds clocking over 100km/h throughout the day.
Notwithstanding an abundance of wonderful ‘free’ wind energy it was a complete ‘down tools’ at Snowtown 1 at 10:30am – with no return to work until 3:00pm; and then only for a 40MW spurt lasting a few minutes. That minor spurt occurred about 35 minutes before the entire grid went down. At 6:30pm there was another burst of activity, until just before 9:00pm; but, apparently the wind got the better of them, and Snowtown 1 was out for the rest of the day.
The following day, 29 September 2016 saw a repeat performance: winds maintained gale force across the state due to an intense low centered over Adelaide:
Faced with wild, turbine-walloping winds – as those winds intensified – SA’s 18 wind farms (with a total capacity of 1,580MW) – did what they were designed to do, in order to protect themselves from ‘component liberation’ – absolutely nothing:
On 29 September, only a few of SA’s wind farms were not already completely blown out of the game: there was ample wind to run them all and obtain something like the 1,580MW notionally on offer, rather than the brief spurt of 260MW seen above. Where wind farm operators were game to let some of their turbines loose in the gale that prevailed, by NOON they were being deliberately shut down to avoid catastrophic damage, as evidenced above.
It’s consistent and repeat performances like that set out above which spell doom for the wind industry.
And the wind industry and its baggage train of parasites must surely know that they’re in serious trouble, when people like The Australian’s Sid Maher start laying the boots in.
You see, for as long as STT can remember, Sid Maher simply regurgitated pro-wind power diatribes, put together by Infigen, the Clean Energy Council and the staffers from the former Environment Minister, Greg Hunt’s office, like Patrick Gibbons (who all sang from the same hymn sheet).
Until now, Sid Maher had never had a single harsh word to say about wind power. But, with the calamity unfolding in South Australia, Sid has had his ‘road-to-Damascus-conversion’ – as this pointed little piece attests.
SA blackout: failure a red-flag warning for leaders and zealots alike
30 September 2016
Wednesday night’s total failure of power in South Australia is a disaster for the 900,000-plus homes that were plunged into darkness.
It is also a disaster for renewable energy zealots and should be a wake-up call for political leaders.
After South Australia’s elevation to poster child for renewable energy (it generates 40 per cent of its power from renewables), the statewide outage has only reinforced concerns about the difficulty of integrating renewables into power networks at elevated levels.
The Australian Energy Market Operator warned last month that the strength of the electricity system was being reduced as wind and rooftop solar “have low or no physical inertia and are therefore currently limited in their ability to respond to sudden large changes in electricity supply or consumption.”
AEMO warned that for large, rare events, “emergency frequency control systems might not be fast enough to prevent a widespread disruption. This would impact consumers through potential loss of power as well as having an economic impact on affected regions.”
That came to pass on Wednesday.
But the question is whether it was avoidable.
Even before the power was switched back on yesterday, renewables advocates were exonerating wind power from any contribution to the outage, blamed the weather and ironically linked the once-in-50-years storm that hit South Australia to climate change. It is clear the storm was the major cause of the blackout.
AEMO, which is responsible for the National Electricity Market, said the outage’s “root cause” was likely to be the multiple loss of 275-kilovolt power lines during severe storm activity in the state.
“These transmission lines form part of the backbone of South Australia’s power station and support supply and generation north of Adelaide,” it said.
But it may not be that simple. “The reason why a cascading failure of the remainder of the South Australian network occurred is still to be identified and is subject to further investigation,” AEMO went on to say.
About 1900 megawatts of power was being used in South Australia at the time the power went out. Of this, South Australia was producing 1034MW, including 330MW of gas generation and about 700MW of wind.
Another 505MW was coming from Victoria, via the Heywood Interconnector, and 100MW more came from the Murraylink DC cable.
While the loss of the power lines was decisive, energy experts told The Australian yesterday the cascading shutdown in the rest of the system could have been caused by wind farms closing in sequence as the storm hit.
The Victorian interconnector would have been unable to cope with the shortfall and would have shut down to protect both the South Australian and Victorian systems. Coal and gas are less susceptible to storms and some experts told The Australian yesterday it is possible a higher level of thermal generation may have kept the lights on in parts of the state.
No doubt an inquiry will produce an answer to this question.
Sid Maher quotes experts who are absolutely on the money: the interconnector did shutdown to protect the grid in response to a collapse in wind power output, as “wind farms [closed] in sequence as the storm hit”(see above and our posts here and here).
While Sid Maher is late to the party, one of The Australian’s economics columnists, Judith Sloan needs no invitation: here she is, at her cutting best.
South Australia’s deluded energy policy needs lightbulb moment
Judith Sloan: Contributing Economics Editor
30 September 2016
Energy policy must be driven by three criteria: reliability, affordability and sustainability — in that order. This is something the South Australian government just doesn’t get or want to get.
Instead, successive Labor administrations have embarked on the folly of thinking that the state’s economic future could be based on wilful over-promotion of intermittent, expensive and unreliable renewable energy.
South Australia has paid a high price for this deluded approach, all the time hypocritically relying on brown coal-generated electricity in Victoria to ensure the lights stay on. Whether that second interconnector to Victoria will now pay off is up in the air, given the prospect of the closure of the Hazelwood power station in the La Trobe Valley next year.
No doubt, the state government will cling to the construction of an interconnector to NSW as the means of fixing the state’s energy problems. But who is going to pay for this expensive piece of infrastructure? It’s hard to see how electricity users in NSW have any interest in footing any of the bill.
And we should also not forget that Mike Rann, the Labor premier of South Australia who really got the green ball rolling in the state, promised that a interconnector to NSW would be completed by 2002. Oops.
The fact that the entire state was subject to a blackout on Wednesday also illustrates the fragility of South Australia’s transmission system — just think through the security implications of what happened.
Surely the system is capable of compartmentalisation so that the entire state isn’t shut down in the event of some infrastructure being damaged by a natural event or otherwise? After all, the equipment that was damaged was a long way from Adelaide.
And for those romantics who posted pictures of candles and glasses of wine declaring they were enjoying the blackout, just think about those people stuck in lifts, those people living close to the incessant noise of fire alarms tripped by the power outage, those people stuck in the CBD a very long way from home without any trains running and those people with young children trying to cope without any power.
The list of those adversely affected by the lack of electricity is long indeed.
It’s about time that some rationality is restored to energy policy. States should forget about having their own renewable energy targets — don’t you just love that Queensland has a target of 50 per cent by 2030 but has less than 5 per cent of electricity currently generated by renewables? Having a national electricity market (without Western Australia, admittedly) means having national policies and planning.
South Australia quickly needs to rethink its approach to energy policy, in particular, and economic management, in general. The political leaders need to demonstrate that the state doesn’t deserve its increasingly used title: The Tin Cup State — always seeking assistance and handouts from Canberra and the other states. There may well come a time when non-Croweaters — that is, most of us — simply get fed up with propping up South Australia.