US Take On South Australia’s Wind Power Disaster: Mass Blackouts Make SA Butt of International Jokes

South Australia’s vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill presides over a self-inflicted social and economic calamity and rebukes his critics as “right-wing fu%@wits”; notwithstanding that his obsession with wind power has left his beleaguered State with the highest power prices in the world and a grid on the brink of total collapse.

South Australia’s frequent load shedding and numerous mass and state-wide blackouts have relegated SA to the butt of international jokes. You see, if you spend every waking hour promoting your state’s ability to run seamlessly on sunshine and breezes, when wind power output collapses and the system goes black, your critics (whether they be “right-wing fu%@wits” or otherwise) can have a veritable field day.

In this piece, Donn Dears from Master Resource pulls apart an effort by the Wall Street Journal to gloss over what really happened on 28 September 2016, when South Australia ‘enjoyed’ the first state-wide blackout in Australian history.

WSJ Blows It on Australia’s Power Crisis (intermittent resources, not fossil fuels, at fault)
Master Resource
Donn Dears
17 July 2017

“The blackout in South Australia that left the entire province without electricity for more than 24 hours was caused by too great a reliance on wind energy, coupled with the closing of the area’s last coal-fired power plant.”

While the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page retains a free market, limited government outlook, the body of the paper continues to move left, following much of the media.

The July 11, 2017, WSJ article on Australia’s energy problems, “How Energy-Rich Australia Exported Its Way Into an Energy Crisis,” with the subtitle “The world’s No. 2 seller abroad of liquefied natural gas holds so little in reserve that it can’t keep the lights on in Adelaide—a cautionary tale for the U.S.” laid blame on LNG exports rather than relying on intermittent electricity sources.

The print edition had the title: “The Energy Shortage No One Saw Coming.” Well, Francis Menton at Manhattan Contrarian warned of just what happened in an October 6, 2016, article, “Pay Attention to South Australia.” And see his update last week in specific reference to the WSJ article, “Wind and Solar Power Don’t Work.”

Author Rachel Pannett, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal’s Sydney bureau, is obviously no energy expert. She missed a lot.

The Real Problem

Australia’s energy problems flow not from free market processes but interventionist energy policies adopted by the Labor and Liberal parties. Their energy policies had three critically important results:

  1. Expanding wind and solar energy to the exclusion of using fossil fuels, by using subsidies to underpin the development of wind farms
  1. Closing coal-fired power plants to stop CO2 emissions
  1. Prohibiting the development of natural gas in the Southeast portions of Australia, primarily New South Wales and South Australia

These are the three real causes of Australia’s energy problems, not the actions of industry in developing Australia’s LNG exports.

The blackout in South Australia that left the entire province without electricity for more than 24 hours was caused by too great a reliance on wind energy, coupled with the closing of the areas last coal-fired power plant.

The 2014 report issued by the Australian Energy Market Operator Ltd (which operates the national energy market) & Electranet (which operates the national electricity transmission grid) predicted that South Australia would suffer blackouts if it continued with its decarbonization policies.

The Hazelwood, Victoria, 1,600 MW coal-fired power plant is also being closed, removing 20% of Victoria’s baseload capacity and 5% of Australia’s.

In spite of the obvious problems, the Labor government in South Australia continues to push wind energy with a goal of having wind provide 50 percent of the province’s electricity.

Now that industry is laying off workers and closing plants because of the lack of low-cost natural gas, the national government is taking action … But the actions are short sighted if the real causes of Australia’s energy disaster aren’t addressed.

At the national level, the Liberal Party, under Prime Minister Turnbull, has enacted legislation to curtail exports unless the LNG industry brings natural gas to those parts of Australia that lack sufficient supplies.

While these regulations may be needed in the short term, and are politically expedient, they will only exacerbate Australia’s energy problems unless the root causes are addressed, i.e., too much wind and solar, too few coal-fired power plants and not allowing the development of new natural gas supplies in those parts of Australia lacking sufficient supplies.

My Trip to Australia

On my trip to Australia in February, our group met with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who, in his talk and Q&A sessions, made it clear that Australia’s energy problems were rooted in a misguided effort to cut CO2 emissions coupled with deliberately ignoring Australia’s huge resources of coal and natural gas.

His views are essentially summarized by the three problems cited above.

Greenpeace and other extreme environmental groups have successfully imbued Australians with a fear of global warming from CO2 emissions. Greenpeace has, for example, campaigned to close coal-fired power plants.

As far back as 2011 Greenpeace, with the generous support of the Rockefeller Family Fund, proposed “A strategy to disrupt the Australian Coal Boom.” They have obviously had considerable success.

These are the facts about Australia’s predicament that should be reported by the media, not a hit-piece about the selfish, money-grubbing intransigence of the LNG industry.

This isn’t the first time the Wall Street Journal has abandoned conservative positions.

The media’s misrepresentation of facts is becoming a national disgrace.

It’s becoming clear that Australia, rather than Germany, could become the poster child for the harmful effects of renewables.
Master Resource

SA’s potty-mouthed Premier, the butt of the joke.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. I have never understood if:

    wind and sunshine are “free”
    renewables are cheaper
    renewables drive cost down

    then , why if I am a brain dead greenie, do I have to pay a premiuim for renewable power if I nominate it specifically?

    and why do SA, Germany and Denmark have the highest power prices in the world?

    Enquiring minds need to know

    it must be the market or big oil or something sinister

    • Uncle Fester says:

      South Australia is no longer second to Denmark in the cost of electricity. Jay Weatherill now has another South Australian “first” to add to his list… THE MOST EXPENSIVE ELECTRICITY IN THE WORLD…. All hail the new world record holders…..

      I cant wait until it is proven that infrasound is harmful, and the line of those claiming compensation extends all the way to Hackney……

  2. You Want it Darker says:

    The potty-mouthed premier’s indecent obsession with wind energy is reminiscent of the riddle of why does the dog lick his balls. He does it because he can. (I am not sure the froth on his lips is Guinness).

    Perhaps this act of Green arousal and self gratification is more about his anxiety with the next election, and filling the heavily wind-invested Union super fund war-chest for the Labor election campaign.

    With reckless nought concern for grid stability, the economy, and the hapless rural neighbours of wind factories. Meanwhile the lame & tame media and political opposition is largely mute.

    Time for an independant corruption commission to investigate government sponsorship (of all persuasions) of the wind industry in this country. The conflicts of interest stick out like, yes, dog’s balls!

  3. Crispin Trist says:

    One way forward I believe is to somehow convince the public at large that it is ‘cool’ to dislike industrial scale wind power.

    The question is how?

    The Glastonbury music festival is but one captive audience that the Green Blob regularly uses to promote their sonic weapons of mass destruction. If you can undermine this yearly session of brainwashing, you may begin to unravel the Green Blob’s message on promoting industrial scale wind power.

    Do not get me wrong however. The basic idea of sustainable living is a good message. But not when it is hijacked by Global energy companies to roll out massive industrial non human scale wind turbines across our beautiful Planet. How this industry has managed to build a Global business model based on nothing more than a flailing propeller is beyond me.

    In 2009, the Glastonbury festival had a wind turbine standing to one side of the main Pyramid stage. I was initially concerned. But after a little bit of digging online I was soon laughing! Perhaps this process of convincing the public that wind is ‘uncool’ has already begun!

    Link below plus text from the site efestival…

    http://www.efestivals.co.uk/forums/topic/126856-pyramid-wind-turbine/

    I will post the text below because these links sometimes have a habit of disappearing!

    ME = Michael Eavis. The festival founder.

    Quote…

    posthuman
    Festival Freak

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    So was the Pyramid Stage wind turbine fake or real? I did actually see it not moving once, but apart from that, it did seem to be moving at the same speed for the whole festival.

    If it was real… how much energy would it actually generate? Enough to power half of one of the stage lights?

    BinThereDrummedThat
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    It was a very silly thing…just to look good but not actually doing anything at all.

    I’d be surprised if it could power half a stage light. They’re pretty powerful.

    Maybe a couple of ordinary outside lightbulbs.

    posthuman
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    BinThereDrummedThat said:
    I’d be surprised if it could power half a stage light. They’re pretty powerful.
    Maybe a couple of ordinary outside lightbulbs.

    0
    BinThereDrummedThat
    Addicted

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    Agree, but even if they covered if the entire festival site in wind turbines they still wouldnt be able to generate the power that place uses!

    Theres really not much that can be done.
    0
    lisa93
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    the website with further info on the skyrota can be found here http://www.vertexrenewables.com/

    the version next to the pyramid was a full size model. ME is apparently going to have one on the farm shortly
    0
    bombfrog
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    I don’t think it’s in keeping with the green festival spirit really. It must use a hell of a lot of power to keep that thing rotating all the time
    0
    lisa93
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    bombfrog said:
    I don’t think it’s in keeping with the green festival spirit really. It must use a hell of a lot of power to keep that thing rotating all the time
    0
    bombfrog
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    lisa93 said:
    It was solar powered! – I went to the stall in green fields…and i think promoting renewable energy is totally in keeping with the festie.
    0
    lisa93
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    why oh dear…seriously, am i missing something?!
    0
    lord stradmor
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    It was powering the BBC Somerset caravan i believe
    0
    bombfrog
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    lisa93 said:
    why oh dear…seriously, am i missing something?!
    0
    lisa93
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    riiight gotcha, this i know andi believe it takes a whole lot more wind…plus it’s a model. It really was solar powered, as mentioned, I went to the stall to find out more about it as was interested.

    Strange though, I thought you were against the prospect of it being a powered model? “it must use a hell of a lot of power to keep that thing rotating all the time” – so confused (easily done!)

    Anyway, only originally posted to see if peeps wanted a bit more info on them that’s all.
    0
    kerplunk
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    bombfrog said:
    I don’t think it’s in keeping with the green festival spirit really. It must use a hell of a lot of power to keep that thing rotating all the time
    I would have thought it would use about the same amount as it produces when it’s being turned by the wind. So you could say to make up for it being used ‘in reverse’ (if that’s what it was doing at the fest) it would have to do about 5 days ‘real’ work to make up for it.

    bombfrog said:
    It was a joke.
    duh
    0
    scorp
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    lisa93 said:
    the website with further info on the skyrota can be found here http://www.vertexrenewables.com/
    the version next to the pyramid was a full size model. ME is apparently going to have one on the farm shortly

    0
    mikeb
    I’m a PC .. and so is my li’l green friend in the fridge

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    kerplunk said:
    I would have thought it would use about the same amount as it produces when it’s being turned by the wind. So you could say to make up for it being used ‘in reverse’ (if that’s what it was doing at the fest) it would have to do about 5 days ‘real’ work to make up for it.
    0
    incident
    Festival Freak

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    It was real.. The company that provided it had a stall and some info in the Green Futures Field
    0
    kerplunk
    Motorclist

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    mikeb said:
    Nope not really, because it’s effectively running on no-load plus would have been assisted by whatever wind was available and in any case was allegedly solar powered according to a comment earlier. Spinning the rotor alone would have taken little or no power providing that there was no load connected as the only power needed would be to overcome friction.
    uh ok I’ll have to think about that one
    0
    windy_miller
    Here is a box, a musical box…

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    A solar powered wind turbine?! WTF? I really don’t understand.
    0
    kerplunk
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    Posted July 1, 2009
    windy_miller said:
    A solar powered wind turbine?! WTF? I really don’t understand.
    Think of it as a big solar-powered electric fan
    0
    grumpyhack
    lives in a field

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    Surely methane power generation must be an option with all the sh*t that 180,000 people produce.
    0

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    Interests:Buddhism, music (many genres) & attending Glastonbury Festival when I can get a ticket …
    Posted July 1, 2009
    grumpyhack said:
    Surely methane power generation must be an option with all the sh*t that 180,000 people produce.
    0

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    Posted July 1, 2009
    kerplunk said:
    uh ok I’ll have to think about that one
    0

    End quote.

    • Crispin I suspect there is every chance that Willy the Wind Turbine was in fact motoring. Older technology wind turbines were little more than an AC induction motor connected to a large fan via a reduction gear box, sometimes driven by the wind as induction generators sometimes operating as large motor driven fans turned by grid power. The motoring mode was regularly used to keep the thing slowly turning in the hope that the occasional wind gust, when/if it came, was not wasted in spinning the anachronistic contraption up to speed, but produced a few pathetic ergs for which the owner would be paid multiple times fair worth.

      • Crispin Trist says:

        Thanks for the comment Bon. If only you could have posted it on the efestival web site at the time!

        It does give me hope though that the younger generation are still asking questions. The Green Blob’s hopes of a New World Order stands less chance of World domination thanks to healthy debate. Debate of the kind that the Green Blob do not want.

        It’s their way or the highway!

  4. Sums up the situation well. The Australian population has a well established groupthink that renewable energy is good and fossil fuel is bad and most of the media representatives and public officials have found it convenient and perhaps profitable to support and promote that line of thinking. Heavy urbanisation with the detachment of an extremely large proportion of the population from the realities of primary industry and electricity generation has left the 9 to 5 commuting urban mind open to influential fear mongering pieces on TV and in the theatre.
    That groupthink is not going to change overnight without a motivator, and while the media and politicians refuse to face facts and continue to direct the public’s attention away from renewable energy sources and onto fossil fuel energy production, it won’t change anytime soon.
    Like a child who doesn’t believe the stove is hot despite the warnings and has to reach out and touch it to find out, Australians appear locked into a renewable future that has to implode before it’s believed. A few blackouts in Sydney and Melbourne will probably do the trick, but the damage will be done by then and the desperation, expense and length of time in trying to recover the situation and backtrack to a sensible energy policy will provide opportunities for a new type of energy conman with yet another get-rich-quick scheme at the expense of the taxpayer.

    • This is Australia and I have noticed since everyone was given a PC left wing primary school and University education the intelligent, rational, common sense Australian has disappeared. I think even if the whole of Australia was blacked out the highly educated Australians would still be crying for more windmills to be built. Australia will be the first country to deindustrialise similar to what Cambodia did in the 60’s, 70’s but with no carpet bombing and with a plan to save the world from climate change and CO2.
      It wouldn’t be too unreasonable to think Australia might be one day covered with windmills, diesel generators and big batteries hired from some Chinese company to supply Australia with electricity for Billion$ of dollars per month. Nothing that happened in Australia would surprise me anymore.

  5. How much of Australia’s electricity is produced by burning Gas???? The price of Caviar would have more of an impact.
    When all of Australia’s power comes from Big Batteries the rest of the world will stop laughing.

    • Dear Ertimus
      For South Australia – the ”wind power state” try 76% gas on June 7 or 81% gas on July 11 – the first 2 random days I looked at.

      You can see Australia’s generation mix in real time here:
      http://reneweconomy.com.au/nem-watch/

      Today (at 10am EST) is a very good day for wind in eastern Oz so gas use is very low compared to the average. It’s daytime so there is also solar input to the grid, but after dark things will change. When the turbines grind to a halt and start sucking power FROM the grid – which they will, gas use goes through the roof, all the more so since our politicians caused the shutdown of Hazelwood coal power station in March.

      You should also be aware that in Oz gas power costs about 3 times the cost of coal power to generate, so the price and availability of gas are VERY BIG factors in the overall cost of power in Oz. The peak price of gas power also sets the marginal price for all the other power as well, so high gas use = very expensive power from all forms of generation under the current Australian power pricing system.

      Your belief in Big Batteries is touching too but sad . . . MEGA-BATTERIES DO NOT PRODUCE ANY POWER WHATSOEVER Professor Waffle. They store it after it is generated by some other source then transformed inefficiently from AC generation to DC battery storage, then back to AC for grid transmission. Power losses of 40% and more all the way. Great system.

      Also don’t get too close to one of your favourite batteries when it blows or you might get your feathers singed. For instance fires in little Tesla car batteries are dangerous to by-standers within 200 metres. Multiply that by thousands of cells in a mega-battery and see how you get on. In Germany an average of 8 house fires are caused by lithium house batteries (Powerwall etc) each week. The 129MWh battery South Oz is getting from Tesla (basically thousands of Powerwalls strung together) is equivalent to 464,400MJ of energy which is the equivalent of 116 tonnes of TNT. The mega-bomb dropped recently in Afghanistan was 11 tonnes of TNT equivalent, so the SA battery will have 10.5 times the energy of that bomb but in an unstable form. What could possibly go wrong? One bad cell out of thousands and the whole lot can go up. Big batteries will be like hydrogen-filled zeppelins: hyped until the first one blows up, then dropped like a stone.

      The theoretical lifespan of lithium batteries is about 5 years (2,000 cycles), but Tesla car batteries under real world conditions are only getting 650 to 750 X 100% depth of discharge cycles – that’s about 2 years’ lifespan in cars if used and recharged daily. Basically the same cells are used in Powerwalls, and the mega-battery is made of Powerwalls. How long do you think your mega-battery will last powering a grid? Note that the SA battery will in theory power SA for a little over 5 minutes at full discharge. Less than that in reality. At that rate of discharge there would be one hell of an explosion long before the 5 minute mark. The battery is a joke; a very expensive joke.

      The best battery ever invented is the coal stockpile. Low-tech, no AC/DC/AC conversion losses: burn it, generate power, then straight into your home on demand. Obviously too simple, cheap and reliable for the Green numpties to get their heads around. Unlike lithium, coal doesn’t blow up or catch fire when you expose it to water. And by the way anthracite coal contains almost 7 times the energy of a lithium battery on a weight for weight basis, yet it is so safe and inert.

      Tell us again how mega-batteries are going to power the world – and the world will keep laughing for an awful long time.

      • Sorry Ertimus, your August 5 comment contradicts your August 4 comment. You should have put a SARC after your first, then I would have known you were a fellow realist. Apologies.

      • What was the % from coal in Victoria, NSW and QLD over the same period? With 1280 MW being provided by AGL’s gas-steam plant at Torrens Island and 480 MW available from the CCGT plant at nearby Pelican Point it’s no surprise SA gets most of its power from gas, a statement that has held since May last year when its coal fired Pt Augusta plant closed for good. No wonder South Australians pay the highest power prices in the world.

      • It may have been a rhetorical question, but the coal power generation on the 2 days I quoted above is as follows.

        7 June:
        NSW 85%, VIC 76%, QLD 77%

        11 July:
        NSW 92%, VIC 67%, QLD 82%

        No idea how much of that QLD coal power found its way to SA, VIC and NSW to keep the lights on as it does most days. Normally SA and VIC are sucking as much power as they can from interstate. Currently they have a surplus of wind power as the big cold front passes through. QLD is the only state with enough baseload power generation capacity left to meet its own needs, plus it has some to spare. All the other eastern states must rely on QLD for backup power. If the QLD-NSW interconnectors go down it will have a domino effect on the southern states. The current power dispatch between states is below.

        http://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Data-dashboard#nem-dispatch-overview

        When an interconnector turns red, it is maxed-out.

    • John McKerral says:

      ETW
      You can’t be serious. What is going to charge the batteries? You do know that they require something to charge them don’t you? I only hope that you were trying to be amusing as no one could be that stupid!
      John

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