In a week when Coca-Cola Amatil announced that it would close its Adelaide bottling plant with the loss of 200 jobs, one might have reasonably expected South Australia’s hapless Labor government to have taken the opportunity to retreat from its disastrous energy policy.
To the contrary, Jay Weatherill & Co sought to double down on their economic suicide pact by loudly professing their love for renewables, in the same way Christians starring as the main feature at the Colosseum would vociferously assert their faith, even while Romans fed them to the lions. In each case, the observer could only marvel at their courage.
For South Australians not keen on watching their economic futures destroyed, it must have felt like being a passenger in a jet airliner when the Captain announces that he would not be flying over the Swiss Alps but was rather intending to fly straight through them.
Notwithstanding rocketing power prices and a grid on the very brink of collapse, Weatherill recommitted his state to a ludicrous 50% RET. But the social and economic insanity didn’t stop there.
Weatherill backs bid to buy gas power station
22 February 2017
Options to buy Adelaide’s Pelican Point gas-fired power station are being considered by South Australia’s Labor government to cut prices and ensure stability of supply, Premier Jay Weatherill says.
As he recommitted to a 50 per cent renewable energy target yesterday, Mr Weatherill also urged the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to approve a bid by major companies to collectively negotiate an 11-year power supply contract.
He said buying Pelican Point was “absolutely” on the table as an option in a “dramatic intervention” by the government into the energy market that on February 9 he had promised was “well advanced” for public release “within weeks”.
The Premier did not provide any details yesterday, only saying the plan was not ready but would be “soon”.
The owner of Pelican Point, French company Engie, also owns the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria, which is scheduled to close next month.
A spokesman for Engie in Australia last night said the company had “no plans to sell Pelican Point”.
Mr Weatherill said the government was searching for a way to introduce greater competition as Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the electricity market was being “gamed”.
“It’s broken — some of the large retailers are playing a very, very tricky and almost corrupt game.” he told FIVEaa radio.
Mr Weatherill said renewables would be at the heart of the government’s energy policy ahead of the next state election, due in March next year, insisting people supported his target of 50 per cent renewables by 2025.
“We’re doing this because it’s good for business, it’s good for jobs and it’s also good for the affordability, the reliability and the cleanliness of our energy system,” he said.
“People that are talking about coal are talking about the past.”
The NSW government yesterday announced it had appointed the state’s Chief Scientist, Mary O’Kane, to head an energy security task force, “because as recent events across Australia have highlighted it is critical that households and industry have a resilient electricity system,” Professor O’Kane said.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said that “unfortunately the SA Labor government has been driven by ideology and pursued a reckless 50 per cent renewable energy target which has put energy security and affordability at risk”.
In half-yearly results announced yesterday, BHP Billiton said its Olympic Dam mine lost $US104 million ($137m) as a result of the South Australian blackout in September.
A spokeswoman for the ACCC yesterday said, in relation to some of the state’s biggest electricity users seeking to buy power as a group, that its “assessment of the application continues and we have not yet formed a view”.
Mr Koutsantonis cautioned that the “rules of the national market might mean that the ACCC will try and stop this from happening”.
The ACCC will undertake consultation processes, with a draft determination due in April and a final ruling in June.
The ACCC needs to approve the proposal so that joint tendering is not viewed as contravening competition laws.
Companies involved include Oz Minerals, Arrium, Nyrstar, Hillgrove Resources, Rex Minerals, Thomas Foods, Seeley, SMR Automotive, Intercast and Forge and Central Irrigation Trust, which combined account for about 10 per cent of the state’s electricity consumption.
Josh Frydenberg continues the lie that South Australia’s energy debacle is all down to that State’s policy: Josh knows full well that there would not have been a single wind turbine erected in SA without the $billions in REC subsidies issued under the Federal government’s Large-Scale RET, a $40 billion tax on all Australian power consumers.
The major (remaining) businesses in South Australia are clearly in the grip of panic and understandably so, given the morally bankrupt idiots that pretend to run it. It’s little wonder that Coca-Cola Amatil decided to cut and run.
From here though, the situation can only get worse. Electricity grids were never designed to take the punishment dished out by wind power generation.
In South Australia, wind power output collapses on a total and totally unpredictable daily basis; on occasions dropping hundreds of MWs in a matter of minutes – as it did on 8 February, leaving 90,000 South Australian families boiling in the dark:
Collapses, like that seen above, operate at the macro level to gut the grid of supply, leading to load shedding (ie deliberate blackouts) and blackouts (ie uncontrolled and unintended blackouts).
However, at the micro level, the erratic nature of intermittent wind and solar combine to disrupt the stability of the grid, which requires both voltage and frequency to be maintained within narrow and defined tolerances.
What was once a ho-hum, day-to-day affair for grid managers, is now a major headache. And, with the threatened closure of a number of base-load plant the risk of a total grid collapse can only increase.
System security at risk as more coal-fired stations close
22 February 2017
The closure of more conventional power stations is likely to increase fluctuations in frequency in the electricity market, posing a risk to the security of the system, the operator of a NSW electricity generator has warned.
Delta Electricity, which operates the 1970s-built Vales Point coal-fired power station, said it had seen increasing numbers of deviations to frequency over the last three years. Delta told a landmark inquiry by the Australian Energy Market Commission that this “raises concerns about the ongoing security” of the national electricity market.
“As the number of events continues to increase, it is possible that the underlying cause could become a threat to system security,” Delta said in a submission to the commission.
Traditionally, conventional spinning generators fuelled by coal, gas or hydro are synchronised to the frequency of the grid of about 50 Hertz and provide “inertia” to allow the system to cope with frequency changes, the AEMC said in its interim report in December. By contrast, wind and solar have low inertia.
Delta told the AEMC that the increase in the changes in frequency observed at Vales Point, at Lake Macquarie, could be caused by the greater reliance on intermittent generation, along with other factors. Wind farms and rooftop solar are considered intermittent because they only work when the sun is shining or wind blowing.
“It is likely that further withdrawal of conventional synchronous plant from the market will increase frequency deviations which could pose a threat to system security,” the submission says.
A slew of coal-fired generators have been decommissioned in the last few years. Victoria’s Hazelwood brown-coal power plant is due to close by the end of next month. South Australia’s Northern power plant was closed last year, while other closures have included NSW’s Munmorah and Wallerawang and Queensland’s Swanbank B.
Delta has also raised concerns that the centrally-managed scheme where the energy market operator handles minor deviations in frequency is becoming “less stable”.
There is growing debate about how to keep the system in a secure state as the mix of generation sources changes.
Then, in the we couldn’t help but giggle category, came this piece of propaganda drivel pitched up by Federal Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg.
Seawater could help rescue SA’s sinking power network
22 February 2017
Pumped hydro energy using seawater could be used to bolster South Australia’s struggling electricity network if a $450,000 federal government grant proves the concept is commercially viable.
Senior ministers from cabinet’s energy committee met retailer EnergyAustralia in Sydney yesterday to be briefed on the proposal to develop a pumped hydro energy storage project in the Upper Spencer Gulf near the industrial centre of Whyalla.
EnergyAustralia managing director Catherine Hanna said the project would have the capacity to produce about 100 megawatts of electricity and store the equivalent power of 60,000 home batteries for up to eight hours.
“The technology works like a giant battery. Its great advantage lies in complementing the shift to renewable energy by providing a reliable store of affordable power,” Ms Hanna said.
“On hot days, when demand spikes, a pumped hydro plant can be brought into action in minutes, keeping the lights on and costs down.’’
The federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency is finalising a $450,000 grant to the company for a feasibility study into the project as the government ramps up its focus on energy storage and baseload power generation amid a growing reliance on renewable power.
A pumped hydro project using seawater, which could be developed in South Australia by 2021, would be only the second of its kind in the world.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said energy storage was a key part of the government’s push for secure, reliable and affordable energy.
“The committee is working on repairing the instability in our electricity system, which is hurting households and businesses that have to deal with unrealistic renewable energy targets, particularly in South Australia,’’ he said.
Mr Frydenberg hit out at Jay Weatherill for praising renewables as being “good for business”, saying the Premier was “in denial”.
“To quote Mark Twain, D’Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt it’s now also the state of mind of the South Australian Premier,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“The disaster of Labor’s failed experiment in South Australia has caused untold pain for households and businesses alike and the fact that Jay Weatherill can’t see it beggars belief.”
Federal opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler said the government was attacking renewable energy rather than addressing “the national energy policy vacuum” which was causing price rises and insecurity.
Becoming more desperate and sillier by the day, Josh seems to think that he can save the wind industry by talking up pumped hydro. The total economic cost of pumped hydro is colossal. Due to friction losses in the pumping/discharge cycle, it requires roughly 4MWh of power to raise enough water to produce 1MWh electricity for dispatch to the grid: a 70%+ loss of energy over the cycle.
But it wasn’t the insanity of throwing more massive subsidies at one uneconomic power source to save the already massively subsidised wind industry, that raised STT’s eyebrows. No, rather it was the concept of using saltwater in a pumped hydro system. As even a novice mariner will tell you saltwater is about the most corrosive force on earth.
In the first instance, STT was hard pressed to think of a single working pumped hydro system using saltwater anywhere in the world. And our instinctively sceptical hunch turned out to be correct. In the history of hydro there has only ever been one pumped hydro plant that has used seawater.
On Japan’s Okinawa, the 30MW Yanbaru Seawater Plant was the first plant to use saltwater, but there must have been a sodium chloride conspiracy.
The plant commenced operating in May 1999 and was dismantled in July last year, lasting just on 17 years; thanks to the maliciously corrosive force of salt, that short-lived, loss-making adventure is unlikely to be repeated.
Apart from a few pie-in-the sky proposals being mooted in Ireland, Hawaii and Chile, Yanbaru appears to be not only the first, but the last, pumped hydro system to have used seawater.
The suggestion that, somehow, South Australians (of all people) could make an energy system work on an economic basis, where the Japanese failed to do so, is just as risible as Josh Frydenberg’s desperate attempt to save the Renewable Energy Target.