After what, for now, can be referred to as South Australia’s most recent mass blackout, Adelaide’s The Advertiser has finally woken up to the fact that the South Australian obsession with wind power has placed the economically battered State in a category alongside North Korea, sub-Saharan Africa and Cuba.
With the passing of Cuba’s long-time tormentor, Fidel Castro, STT couldn’t help but note that Castro was able to reliably guarantee Cubans would receive power every day (albeit for a single measly hour), something that South Australia’s vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill has no hope of matching this summer.
Here is a run of articles that spell out just exactly what a disaster South Australia’s wind power experiment has become.
Totally Powerless: Alarm Rises at Bushfire and Job Risk
Cameron England & Paul Starick
2 December 2016
Biggest employer’s shock job warning on SA electricity crisis & Labor concedes more blackouts to come during bushfire season
The State Government can’t guarantee a constant power supply during the peak bushfire season – and BHP, South Australia’s biggest private employer, has warned our energy debacle is now a major risk to jobs and investment. A quarter of the state – about 200,000 households and businesses – suffered power outages yesterday on the first day of summer, two months after the crisis that blacked out all of SA.
There are growing fears that another major blackout coupled with a severe bushfire would endanger lives by weakening communication networks and adding to chaos in a natural disaster.
The state’s major mining operations – including the massive Olympic Dam operation – were among those kicked off the grid. This follows outages in the September 28 statewide blackout which cost them tens of millions of dollars.
It is understood Olympic Dam lost power for about four hours early yesterday, OZ Mineral’s Prominent Hill mine for almost 6 hours, and the Arrium steelworks at Whyalla also lost power.
In an unusual move for the company, BHP’s chief executive Andrew Mackenzie issued a statement saying that state and federal governments needed to get their act together on power or risk jobs and investment fleeing offshore.
“Olympic Dam’s latest outage shows Australia’s investability and jobs are placed in peril by the failure of policy to both reduce emissions and secure affordable, dispatchable and uninterrupted power,” he said.
“The challenge to reduce emissions and grow the economy cannot fall to renewables alone. This is a wake-up call ahead of the COAG meeting, and power supply and security must be top of the agenda and urgently addressed.”
The next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments will be held next Friday in Canberra.
A spokesman for OZ Minerals reiterated Mr Mackenzie’s comments.
“We have consistently said this is a national issue that needs a co-ordinated response from both state and federal government and this latest outage is just another example why,” he said.
Ironically, large energy users such as BHP underpinning a large part of the economics and stability of the energy grid by signing up for large contracts for power, but are among the first to be “load shed” in a crisis because of their physical isolation and large energy draw.
Asked if consumers hit by blackouts this year could be guaranteed there will be no repeat this summer, Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said: “There’s never been a summer we’ve had in Australian history where any of the states have not had a blackout. Every state in Australia has had load shedding throughout summer.”
Asked what he could do to allay South Australian’s fears about electricity security over summer, Mr Koutsantonis said the state has sufficient thermal, wind and solar generation to cope. “We are basically a very good, diversified electricity generator. The problem we have is we don’t have a cheap available amount of gas,” he said. “I’d reassure South Australia into fundamentally our system is sound. The issue for us isn’t so much an reliability for BHP, it’s in cost. That’s the real issue that I think BHP are trying to grapple with.”
He also suggested BHP could build its own power station for Olympic Dam.
Opposition Leader Stephen Marshall said SA was now 100% reliant on the interconnector with Victoria for stable power supply. “We’ve had three major blackouts in South Australia this year and there’s more on the way,” he said.
Business essays Anthony Penney said it was getting tiresome that so-called “unprecedented” events continued to occur and “it shakes confidence. It highlights that reliability and security are equally as important as affordability, and it raises concerns that come the summer our members and businesses as a whole are concerned that reliability is going to be an issue,” he said. “I’ve got plenty of examples of Victorian companies and other businesses that want to invest in this state, but when the cost of it is so high they question that.”
In September blackout, Nyrstar’s Port Pirie smelter was knocked out for two weeks, at an estimated cost of more than $7 million, and the Arrium steelworks and mining operations also lost millions.
Canary in coal mine is fading
2 December 2016
SOUTH Australians should not accept major blackouts as the new norm because energy security should be the No. 1 priority, federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg says.
In an escalating blame game over the blackout to 200,000 homes and businesses early yesterday, Mr Frydenberg said the state’s third major outage this year was unacceptable.
Renewing attacks on SA’s world-leading renewable electricity generation — 41 per cent — Mr Frydenberg said transition must be managed without sacrificing energy security and affordability.
“When it comes to energy security, South Australia is the canary in the coal mine and the canary is looking pretty sick right now,” he told The Advertiser. “While the (latest blackout’s) cause is under investigation, what is clear is that South Australia was again unable to keep the lights on when disconnected from the national electricity grid.
“This isn’t good enough, and South Australians should not accept this as the new norm. They deserve better.” Mr Frydenberg said practical and cost-effective outcomes should be put ahead of ideology when attempting to solve the problem.
State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the incident had demonstrated that SA had more than sufficient thermal (gas-powered) generation to meet the 1400 megawatt demand at the time.
He emphasised that the loss of 220MW to SA was caused by an unspecified fault on the Victorian transmission network, which affected the flow via the high-voltage interconnector to SA. But the majority of the remaining 1200MW generation had been coming from SA and, therefore, had been relatively quickly restored when load shedding was required to rebalance the grid’s frequency — a technical requirement to maintain supply.
“Last night proved we have enough thermal generation to manage our own system,” Mr Koutsantonis said. “We (SA) are basically a very good, diversified electricity generator. The problem we have is we don’t have a cheap, available amount of gas.
“I’d reassure South Australians that, fundamentally, our system is sound.” Mr Koutsantonis said reliable and affordable gas was critical to fuel generation in Australia for decades and highlighted national reforms, backed by him and Mr Frydenberg, to boost supply.
“We’ve got the most efficient thermal gas-fired generator in the country here in South Australia, at Pelican Point, and the way the national electricity market is structured it’s not efficient for them to have the entire thing running all the time,” he said.
Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren, whose group represents 21 major electricity and energy companies, said the latest blackout was a reminder that the SA grid was now more fragile and increasingly reliant on power from Victoria via the high-voltage interconnector.
“When that supply is interrupted, and when the wind and sun aren’t shining, the state is more vulnerable to blackouts,” Mr Warren said. “Securing firm, dispatchable generation within SA is essential to the state managing upcoming heatwaves, as well as future cold snaps and periods of high demand.” Mr Warren urged the development of a national energy and climate strategy to sort out the cheapest and most reliable solutions amid the drive to reduce carbon emissions.
STT has always struggled in trying to work out whether Federal Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg is simply thick, obtuse or corrupt?
Frydenberg continues to heap the blame for SA’s power debacle at the feet of its state Labor government, forever railing about its 50% renewable target.
Frydenberg knows full well that it is the Federal Government’s Large-Scale RET which created the wind industry in South Australia and which sustains it there and elsewhere.
If Josh Frydenberg doesn’t know that wind power outfits in SA have never received any subsidies or other financial incentives due to the State Labor government’s notional RET (a feel-good wish-list, rather than a serious subsidy rort), he’s an incompetent fool.
If he actually appreciates that it’s the Federal LRET that wrecked the viability of baseload power suppliers like SA’s Alinta (forced to shut its coal-fired plant at Port Augusta) and Victoria’s Engie (also forced to shut its Hazelwood plant) he is a lying, incompetent fool. But, that’s politics.
And, it’s politics that will catch up not only with Frydenberg, but also with the morally bankrupt idiots that pretend to run South Australia. As to which, The Advertiser’s editor chimed in with these chilling observations.
Cold comfort on power as heat grows
2 December 2016
A SENSE of helplessness is pervading the response to the latest major South Australian blackout, which affected 200,000 homes.
Political leaders are, effectively, throwing their hands up in the air and urging people to be patient while national reforms are worked through.
But the problem is this is the third major outage this year, including one statewide shutdown, and there is no quick solution on the horizon.
Warnings about the present peril have abounded for some years. The gas-fired Pelican Point power plant was mothballed in mid-2014, cutting more than half its capacity because of an inability to compete with low-cost wind and solar generators. This is a consequence of the state’s world-leading renewable generation – 41 per cent.
National reforms are being pursued to lower the cost of gas but this will not happen overnight, particularly not for this summer.
As federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has highlighted in today’s Advertiser, South Australia has again been unable to keep the lights on when disconnected from the national electricity grid.
His state counterpart, Tom Koutsantonis, has blamed last century’s decision to privatise ETSA for creating electricity monopolies and leaving the state as a system regulator, not a supplier.
But Labor has been in power since 2002 and must now shoulder blame for the state’s unreliable electricity grid. There has been a rush to embrace renewable energy with insufficient thought to the potential consequences, including Pelican Point’s mothballing.
National electricity market reform is complex but highly necessary. As Mr Frydenberg said on Tuesday, the electricity system is undergoing a technical transformation akin to the shift from landlines to mobile phones.
We must act as swiftly as possible to ensure that SA is not a failed experiment but, instead, has reliable and affordable electricity.
There is nothing “low-cost” about wind or solar power. The subsidies which wind power attracts under the Federal government’s Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target have already added over $9 billion to Australian power bills, so far, and will add $3 billion a year to retail power costs until 2031: a total cost to all Australian power consumers of $45 billion from now until then, although because the LRET target can never be met, around half of that figure will be recovered as a fine for failing to meet the target: REC Price Surge Signals Doom for Australia’s Renewable Target & its Wind Industry
The other point that The Advertiser might eventually recognise is that when its editor croons about “the state’s world-leading renewable generation – 41 per cent” he’s talking about lining up a trifecta: high noon with sunshine and no cloud (to generate anything from SA’s endless sea of massively subsidised rooftop solar panels) and (to get meaningful power from its 18 wind farms with a notional capacity of 1576 MW) constant wind speeds in excess of 11m/s or 40 km/h. As for the latter, in SA, as elsewhere, getting anything at all by way of wind power is a 50/50 proposition, at best – SA wind farms’ collective efforts during July:
At least South Australians are developing a keen sense of black(out) humour, no doubt necessary to deal with a power supply so erratic that it would be hard to find any other country to match it, anywhere else in the developed world.
A dummy’s guide to power unplugged
2 December 2016
The forks of the plug are in Victoria and the big cable trails across the border to keep the lights on in SA. When the Vics think it’s time for us all to go to bed, they pull out the plug.
It’s all a bit confusing, the electricity world. The jargon, the buzzwords, the excuses, the blackouts and much else besides.
Today, The Advertiser, presents a handy guide to help you penetrate the impenetrable. No longer shall the terminology of the electricity market leave you shocked and confused. Cut it out and put it on your fridge:
Load shedding – What happens when there is not enough electricity is that some people don’t get any. In the old days – say just after World War II – this was known as rationing. So next time the state goes black, turn on your battery-powered gramophone and ramp up the Vera Lynn records. Also known as a rolling blackout.
Frequency load shedding – It happens a lot.
AEMO – Australian Experts in Monitoring Outages. (Also known as the Australian Energy Market Operator) Interconnector – Think of it as a big extension cord. The forks of the plug are in Victoria and the big cable trails across the border to keep the lights on in SA. When the Vics think it’s time for us all to go to bed, they pull out the plug.
Megawatts – Measure of power generated by a power plant. Often registers zero.
Islanded state -Welcome to the People’s Republic of SA. Like Tasmania, we have been cut off from the rest of Australia. The new flag will just be black. Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis has just assumed a new role as Information Minister. “There has never been a better time to be South Australian.”
Thermal Synchronous Generation – No idea. Just happy to spell it correctly. A phrase used by Mr Koutsantonis to bamboozle the public during yet another blackout and convince them that electricity is really, really confusing. Works well.
Victoria – See them? All their fault.
Wind energy – SA produces more than any other state, mainly because of all the hot air expelled by politicians trying to justify another blackout.
Renewables – It’s called renewables because after every stuff-up we need new excuses as to why the system failed.
Surge – The feeling South Australians experience when they contemplate how keen they are to make it to the ballot box in 2018.
Inertia control – Not a problem for the South Australian Government. They are experts in inertia.
Blackout – 1. The increasingly long period of time between those rare moments when the lights are on. 2. What the rest of the nation calls SA. And the last one to leave don’t bother to switch off the lights – the powers-that-be have already attended to that.