Doomed to the Dark Ages: No Solution for South Australia’s Wind Power Blackouts


When a mass blackout thrusts your State onto the international stage, as an outrageous possibility, there just could be a little something wrong with your energy policy. Here’s the view from the USA.

Australia Has Serious Problems With Green Energy Triggering Blackouts
The Daily Caller
Andrew Follett
23 November 2016

South Australia is still struggling to figure out how to keep green energy from triggering blackouts and crashing the electric grid, according to an article published by Inverse Tuesday.

The Australian state invested heavily in solar and wind power, but those power sources’ inherent reliability issues place a massive strain on the state’s power grid, according to the article.

Australia’s Energy Council noted in early September that increasing use of solar and wind power in the state “has not only led to a series of technical challenges” but “also increased wholesale price volatility as the state rebalances its supply from dispatchable plant to intermittent generation.” Roughly 25 percent of homes in South Australia currently have solar panels installed, and the state gets 41 percent of its power from wind, solar and other green sources.

Officials concluded that “violent fluctuations” in the supply of wind power caused a blackout affecting 1.7 million people in South Australia later that September. Australian Energy Market Operator, the country’s utility, blamed the blackout on a wind farm in Snowtown, which suddenly stopped providing 200 megawatts of power, causing the state power grid to become extremely unstable.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull blamed South Australia’s state government for putting too much emphasis on generating electricity from wind farms, placing the country’s power grid and energy security at risk by “distorting the national energy market.”

“This has been very much a Labor obsession, to set these heroic renewable energy targets,” Turnbull told a radio station in October. “They assume that they can change the composition of the energy mix and that energy security will always be there and the lights will stay on, and that has been brought into question.”

This instability likely caused other Australian power grids to shut off their links to South Australia, causing the state’s power grid to collapse entirely. This made the entire state look a lot like North Korea.

South Australia’s head of government, a member of the progressive Labor party, blamed the massive blackout on the weather. However, the state has experienced a green energy-caused power crisis since July, when its last reliable coal power plants were shuttered in favor of wind. Hugh Saddler, a professor of climate economics at Australian National University, warned that South Australia’s green energy policy would lead to blackouts due to a lack of reliable base-load coal or natural gas powers.

Independent experts believe that the ability of an electrical grid to absorb unreliable green energy becomes increasingly more difficult at scale. South Australia’s reliance on wind power makes blackouts more likely because the amount of electricity generated by a wind turbine is very intermittent and doesn’t coincide with the times of day when power is most needed. This poses an enormous safety challenge to grid operators and makes power grids more fragile.

The power crisis in South Australia has caused the price of electricity to spike to 200 cents per kilowatt-hour of power. The average Australian currently pays about 25 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to research by the country’s parliament. To put that in some perspective, the average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour of power, roughly half the cost. Major businesses in South Australia have already threatened to suspend operations entirely until the price of power comes down.

Household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40 percent between 2007 and 2012, the same period when the government offered lucrative wind subsidies. Power prices in Australian states with a lot of wind power are almost double the rates in other states.
The Daily Caller

Hey, guess what! They finally know where SA is, provided they’ve
got night vision goggles or can see in the dark, they’ll love it.


When South Australia’s power crisis started to escalate in July this year, its vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill started spinning stories about running extra-long extension cords to his eastern state neighbours, so that he could plug into reliable base-load, coal-fired power in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales; in Jay’s delusional world, no different to throwing an extension lead over the neighbour’s back fence, really.

After Black Wednesday (28 September), the rhetoric ramped up: Weatherill claimed that a few interconnectors were all that was needed to drag his economically beleaguered State back into the first world. Before the ‘Big One’, back in August, STT predicted that Weatherill’s plans to salvage his State – by hypocritically leeching off his neighbours’ coal-fired power plants – would cost around $4 billion and take five to ten years to build. We weren’t far off.

South Australia’s power solutions ‘costly and protracted’
The Australian
Kylar Loussikian
23 November 2016

Building an electricity interconnector between NSW and South Australia could cost up to $3 billion and take as long as seven years to solve South Australia’s energy challenges, which contributed to a statewide blackout in September.

Releasing new research on solutions to South Australia’s power challenges, the Australian Energy Council today will warn that the interconnector option relies on ageing black coal-fired generators that might not exist by the time the transmission line became ready for operation.

It will release research by consultancy ACIL Allen, which analysed 22 possible solutions to problems of intermittency in SA’s power grid that relies on intermittent power sources such as large-scale wind generation or solar rooftop panels for more than 40 per cent of its electricity.

The research considers several different interconnectors, including those from Victoria and NSW, the favoured option among state and federal energy ministers, suggesting all have serious drawbacks in terms of cost-effectiveness, construction time or reliability.

AEC chief executive Matthew Warren said a lack of co-ordinated electricity policy in Australia would mean the situation facing SA would become more widespread.

He said the challenge of building an interconnector with NSW, which SA electricity transmission firm ElectraNet estimates could cost up to $2.5bn and take up to 2022 to build, was the risk it would be delivered after coal-powered generators in the state had already begun to shut down.

The ACIL Allen analysis suggests one NSW-SA option would cost $3.05bn and decrease the power price in SA by 3.2 per cent, while a second would cost $400 million and reduce power bills by 1.9 per cent. Either, however, would take up to seven years to build.

“It’s harder than it looks … fixing the SA reliability and stability issue isn’t going to be inexpensive or easy,” Mr Warren said. “The challenge with the NSW interconnector is it has to be done as part of a national energy strategy and … be a viable solution every day of the week.

“At the moment you are connecting to ageing black-coal generators in NSW and relying on power from those generators that may not be there by the time the interconnector is finished.”

State energy ministers met federal counterpart Josh Frydenberg last month in response to a sudden loss of half of South Australia’s wind power in September, which led to a surge in demand for power from elsewhere, disconnecting the state from the National Energy Market as the Heywood interconnector with Victoria failed.

Energy ministers are due to meet again on Friday.

The ACIL Allen report considered upgrades to the Heywood interconnector, as well as installation of a similar facility known as Murraylink. Another option examined was connecting SA with Burnie in Tasmania or Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

The latter two options would take more than seven years to build, and cost $1.06bn and $2.46bn respectively, the report concluded.
The Australian

It’s a disaster, to be sure. A fact quickly recognised by The Australian’s online readers:


At last, the penny drops!!!


The simple answer is for the South Australian voters to elect sensible people to run their state. Why should the rest of the country bail them out when the wind stops blowing. Building the interconnectors sounds like the desalination plants projects. Large scale, expensive and irrelevant.


So, SA government is so convinced about renewable energy that it will spend $3 billion on a back up plan for when it fails: good government at its best!!


Surely, if Weatherall is to be believed, that the outage in SA had nothing to do with the State’s 40% reliance on renewable generation and everything to do with the storm damage to transmission pylons, there is absolutely no basis or justification for a further interconnector, to NSW, Victoria, Tasmania (it is Burnie, surely?), or anywhere else?


Until the ACIL Allan report is available to the public it is not possible to understand why interconnectors, both AC and DC, are the solution; that is if they are the solution.

That said, the Heywood AC interconnector carries power, but it also carries ‘Spinning Reserve’ (SR), reactive power(var) and locks the grid frequency in SA to that in Victoria and NSW. The problem with carrying the Victorian grid frequency is that this disables the SR and UFLS in SA.

In the event of generation loss in SA, this is replaced instantaneously by SR on the Heywood interconnector which becomes a real power transfer. Overload the interconnector and it trips. I look forward to understanding how ACIL Allen deal with this issue.


@GiveA You have not commented on the deficiency of a DC link:  it cannot support fault levels of any magnitude, nor significant frequency or voltage disturbances.
The Australian Comments

Jay Weatherill: wants his coal-fired neighbours to pay for the next round, and the round after that, and the round after that, and …


15 thoughts on “Doomed to the Dark Ages: No Solution for South Australia’s Wind Power Blackouts

  1. Unfortunately SA does not have the ability to utilize Hydro SA is the driest State in the Nation, and it does not have anywhere to store more water – if it had it to spare. We already rely very heavily on the River Murray and we are at the end of its flow, after it meanders through other States who also require to use it before the leftover reaches SA.
    Added to this we have very hot summer spells as well as cold winters – not as cold as some admittedly but cold enough to need heating.
    What has not been taken into account is that SA has lost a very great amount of its industry, which would have needed large amounts of energy – what would the state of the States energy supply be if we were still a powerhouse of industry?
    Would total blackouts have been a regular occurrence? Probably because nothing would convince the lot we have in Government to accept they were and are wrong in their support of unreliable
    wind produced energy supply.

  2. Two points
    1) I have read/heard that Weatherill’s electricity screw up is actually an experiment. Like, why consult engineers, just try it out. Sounds pretty dumb
    2) Have googled the photos of fallen pylons. Is something not right
    a) Some have no concrete on feet
    b) Others have concrete but only enough for a clothesline
    c) Others may not even be pylons
    d) Others look to top heavy for the base
    e) Others look like they are made from aluminium tubing
    Are these photos fake or of something unrelated to the recent disaster.

  3. Hi,

    I started a PETITION “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the RESIGNATION of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and 15,000 household POWER DISCONNECTIONS, frequent POWER BLACKOUTS and the JULY 2016 POWER CRISIS” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

    Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

    You can read more and sign the petition here:

    Please share this petition with anyone you think may be interested in signing it.

    Thankyou for your time.

  4. The AEMO did not blame the blackout on wind farms.

    It found that high winds (cyclonic winds and 7 tornadoes), thunderstorms, lightning strikes, hail and heavy rainfall caused problems with the electricity transmission system. This includes the failure of three major transmission lines north of Adelaide in the space of 12 seconds.

    This caused system instability with “significant voltage dips and loss of load,”.

    Although power was initially maintained, at 4.18pm (AEST) multiple transmission faults in a short period of time caused 315 MW of wind power to disconnect.

    To make up the shortfall, the network tried to get more power via the Heywood interconnector, which provides SA with electricity from Victoria. But this caused the interconnector to overload.

    It took “less than half a second” for this to trigger an “automatic-protection mechanism” that cut off the power in SA in order to protect the interconnector from being damaged.

    1. John “only” the wind turbines failed to ride-trough the SA grid disturbances. Synchronous generation remained on line, including that in Victoria.
      It was only when unsustainable overload on the Heywood interconnector and an unacceptably high rate of fall in interconnected grid frequency caused by the loss of SA wind generation threatened the security of the Victorian grid that SA was cut adrift.

  5. All a fine mess, SA wants someone else to raid their “Magic Pudding” in order to pay for massive transmission interconnectors considered by some to be the saviour for SA, a state that has knowingly vandalised it’s electricity generation assets. Norman Lindsay would be proud at what the progressive Left has become.

    The answer is obvious to those who are willing to recognise the axiomatic truth – renewables (except hydro in geographically blessed regions) will not and never will be able to sustain a reliable, cost effective first world standard electricity grid. Only a return to proven reliable forms of generation will fix the mess.

    But don’t try to convince the current crop of would-be conservative politicians in Canberra, who somehow can rationalise the waste of $50 billion on submarines, already technically obsolete, that won’t be delivered for another 50 years when most of these genii will be pushing up daisies.

  6. STT
    A repost of a blog I entered under Kylar Loussikian’s article at :-
    The basis of the ACIL Allen report is an assumption that cascade failures do not happen on grid systems. Believe that if you want but do not expect me to accept that as a sound basis for a $3 billion spend.

    I have inspected the ACIL Allen report [2:] into the South Australian grid system, published prior to the blackout. In my view, the report fails at page 21 of the pdf file. It makes an ASSUMPTION that is disproved by events some four weeks after publication. That means that the Energy Council report [1:] also fails. These versions of the reports should be shredded and new versions prepared that remove the assumption.
    While the events that caused the cascading series of events in South Australia that led to the system black event are still being investigated, a key learning will be how to operate and configure high renewable grids under these circumstances to minimise the scale of the outage.
    [This report needs to deal with cascade failure before the Energy Council reissues it. It will need a heavy re-write.]

    02 SEPTEMBER 2016
    [i.e. prior to the SA blackout event]

    p17 – Section 3
    Therefore separation of South Australia from the rest of the NEM creates a significant risk that at times the South Australian power system may become unstable, risking disconnection, infrastructure damage or loss of supply to customers. … The possible causes of separation are discussed in section 3.1
    [problem identified except that it isn’t]

    p17 – Section 3.1
    South Australia has experienced four “non-credible” separation events since 1999, approximately once every four years.
    [loss of grid circuits and generation prior to blackout were clearly “non-credible” separation. See Boxout below.]

    p18 Section 3.1 – Boxout
    A non-credible contingency event is a contingency event that results in two or more disconnections of transmission or generation assets and is much less likely to occur. Examples of non-credible contingency events that could lead to separation include:
    1. a double lightning strike or bushfire that disconnects two circuits
    2. failure of a single tower that carries two circuits
    3. a fault on a high voltage bus in a transmission substation
    4. the disconnection of multiple generating units that could lead to a loss of stability.
    [‘much less likely to occur’ is only true if a cascade failure is not produced. If 1. and 2. lead to 3. and that leads to 4., then an interconnector trip becomes probable, even inevitable if the system management is poor.]

    p21 –
    When looking at the aggregate risk of separation for South Australia, we have ASSUMED [my capitals] that the failure of any element is largely independent of any other element.
    [If 1. and 2. in the Boxout lead to 3. and that leads to 4., then an interconnector trip becomes probable, even inevitable. ASSUMPTION proven to be invalid four weeks later. Report fails]

  7. Renewable energy is novelty energy. The windpushers have known this all along, but keeping the masses “in the dark” about that fact, is all that has allowed them to continue the scam!

  8. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “Household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40 percent between 2007 and 2012, the same period when the government offered lucrative wind subsidies. Power prices in Australian states with a lot of wind power are almost double the rates in other states.”

    North Korea would be proud of Australia’s ‘green central planning’ model, leading to energy poverty and statewide blackouts.

    We are living in the “dark” age of collective eco-insanity.

  9. ACIL Allen have long been part of the problem in fostering the wind turbine fantasy as a solution for electricity generation and always making excuses for it by just spending billions of dollars of consumers money. Meanwhile, Weatherill is concerned about apologising to South Australia’s gay, lesbian, gender fluid et al individuals for any hurt they may have experienced in the past – not even a thought of apologising to corporations, individuals and workers who rely on stable electricity supply for a living that provides the basics of modern life but who don’t get it. Why is this individual and his cronies still calling the shots in South Australia? Haven’t the citizens of that once great state heard of ‘kangaroo courts’?

    1. Unfortunately SA has a fixed term for its Governments, if only we could get rid of them. Even at the last State election they did not receive the majority vote, just the majority seats supported by waste of space Independent who went against his own voters by accepting a Ministry to enable Labor to keep power, and a miserable disgruntled EX Liberal who went Independent after the election and took a Ministry to support Labor because his own Liberal Party didn’t want him as its Leader – again going against his own voters who voted Liberal not Labor.
      With such people ruling this State is there any wonder its in an increasingly deepening mess.

  10. STT
    You said 25% of SA homes have solar panels and that SA gets 41% of its power from wind , solar and other green sources
    1) Solar doesn’t produce much
    2) Windmills produce nothing
    3) Other green sources?
    Your figure of 41% must be incorrect

    Engineers in and out of the windmill industry all agree that a grid should not be higher than 10%-15% wind/renewable. Reason. Early morning jugs and toasters and evening meals (Plus heaters in the winter) cause a sudden load on the grid which must be responded to in seconds. Base load generation/boilers to slow to adapt. Hydro sluice gates may be OK

    The electricity system was just fine until the windmill mania kicked in. A what a kick.

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