‘Smug’: adjective – having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements. Eg, “he was feeling smug after his win”.
synonyms: self-satisfied, complacent, self-congratulatory, superior, puffed up, pleased with oneself, self-approving, well pleased, proud of oneself.
Yes, that’s STT: but our sense of self-satisfaction is not gleeful.
STT has been spelling out the wind power fraud, its causes and consequences since December 2012. However, until now, it has been like bashing our heads against a brick wall: relief only comes with cessation. Frustrated and angry at the morally bankrupt idiots the pretend to govern us and, worse still, parade as energy experts without the first clue about electricity grids or electricity markets, STT can only fume at the results playing out in South Australia and beyond.
True it is, that there is nothing like being (repeatedly) proved correct in a public forum, but it would be the height of ill manners, if not a tad malicious, to take any kind of delight in the suffering being meted out upon South Australians.
Before we document (in simple graphical detail) the causes of the latest power supply calamity in SA, aka ‘Australia’s wind power capital’ we’ll pick up a few pieces from the ABC and The Australian.
SA heatwave: Blame game begins as state faces further power cuts
8 February 2017 (Updated 9 February at 5:05pm)
As South Australians prepare for possible power cuts this afternoon, a blame game has erupted between the federal and South Australian governments over power generation.
SA Premier Jay Weatherill promises to intervene in state’s electricity market
More blackouts expected for the state, Adelaide forecast to reach top of 42C today
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lays blame entirely at SA State Government
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill promised to “intervene dramatically in the electricity market” but failed to release any details, after thousands of homes and businesses had their power shut off last night due to insufficient generation capacity.
SA Power Networks initially said 40,000 properties had been affected, but have since revised the number to 90,000.
Mr Weatherill’s promise followed comments from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this morning, placing the blame for South Australia’s blackouts entirely on the State Government.
“It has created a situation where that state has the most expensive and least reliable electricity in Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.
“That is a fact. Of course they want to blame it on everybody else.
“When they have the biggest heatwave there is no wind and when there is no wind, all of their windmills are not generating electricity.
“They haven’t planned for that.”
But Mr Weatherill said South Australians were “not prepared to put up with being ridiculed and have the finger pointed at them by a Federal Government that has abdicated its responsibilities”.
“One option is to completely nationalise the system, that is an extraordinary option,” he said.
“It would involve breaking contracts and exposing us to sovereign risk and the South Australian taxpayers to extraordinary sums of money.
“It is not a preferred option. We are ruling nothing out at this point.”
He said the State Government’s plans were “well advanced” and there would be further meetings this afternoon.
“What we know at the moment is that we have a national electricity market which is all about dollars and cents,” he said.
“It is not about people, it is not about businesses and jobs.
“It is a trading system where people are trying to maximise profit and minimise cost.”
Independent senator Nick Xenophon said South Australia needed to underwrite construction of a new gas-fired generator.
“The impact of that will be immediate, it might take 12 months or so to build but it will send a very clear signal to the market both in terms of energy security and a reduction in prices,” he said.
“It will build in some real competitive tension because right now, I believe we have market failure.”
Not enough time to turn on Pelican Point: AEMO
In a statement, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecast “a tightening supply/demand balance across South Australia and New South Wales over the coming days”.
“AEMO understands the frustration from South Australian energy consumers … it is important to note that AEMO instructed load shedding to ease the pressure on the power system, protecting it from potentially impacting more residents, and for a longer period.”
South Australian Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis earlier slammed AEMO for going ahead with a load shed rather than turning on power at Adelaide’s back-up power station Pelican Point.
But AEMO executive general manager of stakeholders Joe Adamo said they did not have enough time to switch on the plant yesterday.
“When we were talking to Pelican Point, it was decided that the lead time for Pelican Point to actually bid into the market was too short a timeframe and as such we had to take the load shedding action,” he said.
The operators of Adelaide’s back up power station at Pelican Point, ENGIE, said in statement it could not provide additional power for South Australia unless directed to do so by AEMO.
More blackouts to come
Load shedding occurs when AEMO directs power companies to start switching off customers’ power supply because the power system is at risk of failing due to too much demand and not enough supply.
There was potential for more load shedding to occur on Thursday but AEMO has since requested to turn on the second unit at Pelican Point, lessening the risk.
Mr Koutsantonis warned other states would also be affected.
“The problem that’s occurring here is coming to a city near you on the eastern seaboard soon,” he said.
Adelaide’s expected top for Thursday is 42C, with Port Augusta, Coober Pedy, Woomera, Marree and Moomba forecast to reach 46C and Tarcoola 47C.
Last night, as many South Australians arrived home from work and turned on their air conditioners, SA Power Networks announced it would start load shedding to cope with demand, plunging some areas into blackouts for half an hour or more, impacting about 90,000 customers.
Thirty minutes after SA Power Networks announced the outages, it tweeted the load shedding had ended.
The reliability of South Australia’s electricity supplies has been in the spotlight after a statewide blackout in stormy weather last September, causing the Federal Coalition to criticise the state’s renewables-heavy power mix.
Another storm in December forced the power distributor to announce compensation payments totalling $20 million to about 75,000 customers after lengthy blackouts.
Adelaide back in dark ages amid heatwave
9 February 2017
South Australia was plunged into a new power crisis last night when more than 90,000 homes across Adelaide had their electricity cut in heatwave conditions as distributor SA Power Networks imposed load-shedding on the city.
As the temperature passed 40C, power was cut under orders from the Australian Energy Market Operator “due to lack of available generation supply”, according to SA Power Networks.
Last night’s blackouts were the latest in a series of outages over five months that have cost businesses millions of dollars and infuriated South Australians.
Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham, a South Australia senator, said it was further proof that the Weatherill Labor government “can’t keep the lights on” since last September’s statewide blackout.
“It’s a chronic failing that can only hurt investment confidence in the state,” Senator Birmingham told Adelaide’s The Advertiser last night.
“It’s a demonstration that ad-hoc state-based renewable energy targets have gone too far — when reliability can’t be maintained on a day the likes of which South Australia faces numerous times every single summer.”
Live energy production data sources last night showed wind power was negligible in the state, which has shut its coal-fired power station and is aiming to reach 50 per cent renewable energy production by 2025.
Social media was flooded with complaints soon after 7pm (South Australian time), with the power distributor telling customers the forced rolling cuts were ordered by AEMO.
Appearing live on Facebook for a question-and-answer session, Premier Jay Weatherill blamed the National Energy Market for the outages, saying a gas-powered generation plant in South Australia had not been required to come online.
“The rules of the energy market are broken,” he said. “We’ll be asking for changes.”
Mr Weatherill had blamed previous blackouts on storms that hit the state. There were no storms yesterday before the blackouts.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said 3000MW of thermal generation remained idle in the state due to low availability of gas and higher prices.
The temperature in much of South Australia is expected to soar above 40C until Saturday, raising fears of further blackouts.
Northern areas of the state are well into a second week of the heatwave, with gas production site Moomba enduring heat above 45C for the sixth consecutive day. Ceduna, Port Augusta, Roxby Downs and Woomera topped 46C. Despite the heat, bushfire risk across the state did not reach severe levels, though the risk was elevated in three districts, including the Riverland and the northeast pastoral.
SA Health chief medical officer Paddy Phillips said the state’s public hospitals had put special measures in place to deal with extra heat-related problems, which were likely later in the week:” Generally the stresses that people feel come on after two or three days.”
The Australian (Additional reporting: AAP)
Then there’s the small mater of wind ‘powering’ what’s left of SA’s industry.
$20m to keep the lights on for Defence subs build
9 February 2017
South Australia’s energy security crisis has forced the Department of Defence to commission an emergency $20 million supplementary power source to safeguard the federal government’s $90 billion submarine and ship construction.
The back-up power plan was revealed as SA was hit by rolling blackouts again after the Australian Energy Market Operator yesterday ordered load shedding because of “a lack of available generation supply in SA”, where the temperature was over 40C.
Defence officials late last year began developing a contingency plan to build a large-capacity generator in response to concerns the state government could not guarantee reliable power because of SA’s reliance on intermittent renewable energy sources, chiefly wind.
Danish firm Odense Marine Technologies has been commissioned to design a power generator — most likely diesel-fuelled — to ensure power at the Osborne South shipyard, which will employ 5000 people.
It will be designed to operate up to five days a week as an off-the-grid power supply to mitigate statewide failures such as those last September and December. A Defence source said the department was working on a cost estimate of up to $20m, before the running expenses of fuel and fuel storage were factored in.
Defence Industries Minister Christopher Pyne said yesterday the SA power crisis was a threat to the shipbuilding industry and the federal government would have to pay for supplying its own back-up power source.
“So the massive obsession that the Labor Party has with renewable energy … has meant in South Australia, Australian taxpayers are going to have to pay millions of dollars more,” he said. “Power in South Australia is more akin to what you would expect in a backpackers’ hostel in a third world country.”
Defence is believed to have been spooked when the SA government told BHP Billiton to buy its own generator after the December blackout shut down the miner’s Olympic Dam operation.
Supply security was not the department’s only concern, however, with the state’s skyrocketing electricity prices threatening to hike construction costs at Osborne South. Last July, the National Electricity Market spot price for SA surged from averages of about $100 a megawatt hour to more than $14,000/MWh for several hours, leading to a period of average power prices 60 per cent higher than the rest of the country.
Mr Pyne said a design and cost was still to be supplied but he was told it would run into the millions of dollars.
“It is a pressing problem,” Mr Pyne told The Australian, with construction due to begin for nine frigates next year, followed by the offshore patrol vessels, and the contract for delivery of 12 submarines due to start in the early 2020s. “I called the department and asked them if we had a contingency plan for this … what happens to the submarines and frigates if we can’t supply power?”
“And it’s not just the cost of the generator but the cost of the fuel and the cost of storing the fuel on site.
Mr Pyne said the department advised it had begun work on commissioning its own generator from the company contracted to design the new shipyard.
Premier Jay Weatherill has consistently denied the blackouts had anything to do with its renewable energy targets and significant reliance on intermittent power sources.
So, that’s South Australia’s power supply calamity, which replays over and over again, and which has no immediate solution, except scheduling wind power generation in advance (ie forcing wind power outfits to nominate at least 30 days ahead of time when, how much and over what duration they propose delivering their skittish product) and preventing it from taking precedence over reliable, conventional generation (see our post here).
Now we’ll have a look at what went wrong. The following graphics show what happened to wind power output in SA and the spot price for electricity in SA over the last few days and on just the latest ‘Black Wednesday‘, 8 February 2017:
SA’s 18 wind farms (with a notional capacity of 1,576MW) were belting out a tad over 1,000MW around 8am, but fell in a flabbergasted heap as the day wore on: plummeting to a piddling 70MW by 7pm (or 4% of notional capacity). So much for ‘wonderful, free’ wind energy routinely ‘powering’ the hundreds of thousands of homes claimed as gospel fact by the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers.
Now, let’s see what that utterly predictable collapse in wind power output did to the spot price for power in SA (the heavy blue line on the left shows the actual price paid on 8 February, the dotted line shows the forecast spot price for 9 February):
As wind power output collapsed on 8 February the 30 minute average hit $350 per MWh, while the period from 4pm to 7pm saw the 5 minute interval price twice top $13,000 per MWh [note to Ed, you can get a zippy, brand new Nissan Micra for that kind of money!]
SA suffered a repeat wind power ‘performance’ the next day, 9 February 2017 (proving lightning does strike twice in the same place):
SA’s wind farms struggled to sustain 500MW for more than a fleeting moment, then after 3pm spiralling earthwards to around 170MW as the day warmed up, more load shedding followed and the spot price went ballistic, yet again (the solid blue line on the left shows the actual spot price on 9 February, the dotted line on the right shows the forecast spot price for 10 February):
With wind power output heading south, the spot price for the 5 minute interval topped $9,000 per MWh for something that costs coal-fired plant less than $50 to deliver (at a profit).
We could go on with further examples – such as 10 February, when much the same wind power driven market chaos occurred – but we’ve probably made our point.
For those inclined to do a little of their own detective work, the (occasional and erratic) wind power output of every wind turbine connected to Australia’s Eastern Grid is helpfully collected on a daily basis by the boys over at Aneroid Energy – linked here. And the daily spot price is available, state-by-state, from the AEMO site – on their data dashboard linked here.
All of this was perfectly predictable; and STT predicted it (see our post here).
Over the next few posts, we’ll simply lay out a series of articles run in the mainstream press which prove that, at long last, a few of Australia’s journos are finally catching up, even if our political betters have a long, long way to go.