South Australia’s Renewable Energy Fiasco: Wind ‘Powered’ State to Run On Diesel-Fuelled Jet Engines

Diesel-fuelled jet engines: what promises to power
SA this summer and next summer and ..


If South Australia were a novel, it would find itself a place amongst the classic tragic comedies.

For a while the bromance between its vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill and Californian carpetbagger, Elon Musk might’ve earned a place in the ‘rom/com’ category, as well.

However, now that Jay Weatherill is determined to keep the lights on this Summer and beyond using diesel fuelled jet engines – instead of powering SA with sunshine and breezes captured and stored lovingly in Musk’s mega-batteries – that romance is clearly at an end.

South Australia generating electricity from rubbish and diesel powered jets, if they could only burn government regulations instead
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
9 August 2017

A little update on our favourite green state.

SA tries to fix a Big-Government mess with a Bigger Government: Man-made regulations created the grid-crisis in South Australia, so the Weatherill government has decided to take what didn’t work and “do more”.

Australian rulers subsidized unstable energy, and lo, created an unstable system. The SA state govt thinks it can solve it by running an opposing scheme simultaneously. The Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme meets the Energy Security Target (EST). Don’t laugh.

The Electricity Price Target (EPT) is probably next. This is magic wish-fairy governance where the guy in charge doesn’t take the effort to understand the cause of a problem and unwind it, he just waves a wand and issues a decree. Perhaps Weatherill thinks the hamstrung-market can squeeze some stable electrons out the ether, but cheap stability only came from coal in SA. His kind of stability-on-command comes out of wallets instead.

The fairy plan looks so bad even the wonder-hero, Elon Musk, is getting nervous that electricity bills will stay painfully high (making his battery power solution not look so attractive to the rest of the world).

SA is going to be held up as the global text book example of how not to run a state. It’s the impossible bind for Tesla — the only politicians crazy enough to buy their biggest battery are too crazy to run an efficient, productive polity:

Battery giant Tesla has joined power generators, retailers, major energy users and experts in voicing concerns about a central component of the South Australian Government’s $550 million energy plan.

The SA scheme operates in a similar way to the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). But instead of incentivising new renewable projects, it would require retailers to source 36 per cent of the state’s electricity needs from gas generators and other synchronous power sources.

Join the dots: There are no other serious synchronous sources in SA outside coal, nukes or gas. Coal and Nukes are forbidden on religious grounds, but gas prices are at record highs. So the SA govt chooses gas, gas and more gas, plus some diesel in the interim.

Everyone –Elon Musk, industry, the AEMO, even, fergoodnesssake the owners of the gas power plants themselves, can all see what’s coming — pocket-busting power bills.

Fellow power retailer Alinta said while it supported the Government’s pursuit, it was not convinced and thought it “would lead to inefficient pricing outcomes [at least in the short term], sub-optimal dispatch outcomes, increased uncertainty and deter new investment in generation in the South Australian market”.

Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) chief executive Andrew Richards echoed those concerns by writing “we believe it will add significant cost to the annual electricity bills of South Australian energy users without necessarily altering the nature or structure of the local market to provide greater system security”.

The EST is a second-degree fixit to solve a side effect of the first-degree fixit. The solution is to stop trying to change the global weather with our electricity grid. Until the RET is axed, and every other clean-green-scheme — every fixit will need another fixit, and so on forever.

SA to emulate Soviet Union

As it is, the SA solution is to get the government not just to pick the winners, but to own them. (Let’s face it, private industry won’t be building two “spare” gas generators to sit around, and do nothing most of the time, just wait there, burning capital, to rescue the state at peak moments. Governments are the only organizations that are inefficient and stupid enough to do this.) The state is becoming a money-hole, where capital goes to die. Only West Australian GST dollars plug the drain.

Do I hear diesel jet engines?

On August 1, the SA Govt announced an updated “plan” which includes something that sounds like giant jet engines running on diesel:

They will operate on diesel fuel over the next two summers before being relocated to a new site to become a power plant and be switched to gas, the Government said.

The Government has bought nine new General Electric aero-derivative turbines through US company APR Energy.

In his $550 million energy plan announced in March, Premier Jay Weatherill had proposed the installation of temporary generators before a new Government-owned generator could be built.

Together, the turbines will be capable of quickly producing up to 276 MW of energy, more than the 250 MW originally outlined in the government’s plan. The state-owned generators will be tested monthly and only used when required to prevent an electricity supply shortfall.

Those blackouts, which occur when the total demand for electricity exceeds supply, occurred three times last summer.

The power plant will have a lifespan of 25 years.

The Australian helpfully pointed out that other states use GE turbines like this to cope with summer demand — namely Indonesia, Algeria, Greece and Egypt. Add SA to that list of economic powerhouses.

Fast-starting turbines running on diesel will temporarily back up South Australia’s intermittent power supply for the next two summers..

The GE TM2500 turbines, a derivative of the jet engines used by Boeing and Airbus, will be purchased from APR Energy.

Mobile plants have been used to provide peak summer demand in Indonesia, Algeria, Egypt and Greece. They will initially be installed at two sites — the Adelaide Desalin­ation Plant at Lonsdale in Adelaide’s south and the Holden factory at Elizabeth to the north.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the generators “are the type of generators every modern city in the world is putting in”.

“Every modern city” in this case means Lombok, M’Fila, Rhodes, Camama and Cazenga. Yeah.

South Australia, leading the world in solar-rubbish-power

Things are getting pretty desperate. The new plan is to put the solar panels right over the landfill (sorting out the end-of-life arrangements right there with pre-disposed panels?)

“The solar farm is designed to integrate with the landfill gas ­renewable energy facility situated at the Uleybury Landfill and supplement its output, therefore combining base-load and solar PV technologies that will produce renewable energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr Faulkner said.

“The collective electricity generated from both energy sources will be over 11,000MW hours per annum, which is enough to power more than 1800 homes.

So 1,800 homes will get stable rubbish-power, and the other 727,000 homes, not so much.

My sympathies to all the South Australians who didn’t vote for this.
Jo Nova Blog

140,000 litres of diesel off to power SA: enough to run
Jay’s jets for an hour and forty-five minutes.


What infuriates STT most is the fact that, instead of fronting up to the obvious cause of Australia’s self-inflicted energy calamity, those who pretend to govern us have all raced to the periphery, blaming, among other things, power retailer’s discounting shenanigans, a shortage of gas (the bulk of Australia’s electricity is generated using coal, not gas) and even the lack of a set-in-stone Clean Energy Target of the kind pushed by Alan Finkel.

Across the board, whether it’s Turnbull and Frydenberg at the federal level or state Premiers like Jay Weatherill, what passes for political leadership in this country pretends that a regulatory tweak here and a mandate there will quickly overcome the destruction being wrought by Australia’s Large-Scale RET.

Instead of killing the elephant in the room, politicians of all persuasions and at all levels of Australian government act as if the LRET was a harmless piece of theoretical fancy, rather than a $3 billion a year tax on all power consumers.

Henry Ergas – Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility and columnist with The Australian – points out that digging Australia out of its current renewable energy mess requires more than tinkering at the edges.

In the first part of his Weekend Australian article Henry ripped into the debacle that is the government backed National Broadband Network (which we haven’t reproduced), and then launched into Australia’s power pricing and supply disaster and those responsible for it.

Predictable NBN errors replicated in renewable energy sector
The Australian
Henry Ergas
12 August 2017

On the contrary, the errors involved in the NBN are being repeated in energy, and on an even grander scale.

There, too, governments have ignored trade-offs, not recognising that it is simply impossible to have all three of a massive rise in the share of renewables, reliable power supplies and affordable electricity charges.

And there, too, the outcomes are exactly as I (and many others) predicted: network reliability has deteriorated dramatically, with four recent incidents of involuntary load-shedding and many more near misses; as the wholesale market becomes ever more unstable, price spikes are increasingly frequent; the baseload investment needed for network security has withered away; and adjusting for inflation, household electricity bills have risen by more than 60 per cent in a decade, causing widespread hardship.

Fiddling at the edges cannot undo this mess. Rather, what is needed is a drastic change in course. And there is no mystery about the steps that should be taken.

The proponents of renewables claim they are cost-competitive. Fine: now that renewable generators have pocketed $15bn in subsidies, let them stand on their own two feet.

And while we’re at it, let’s ensure those generators pay the full costs they impose on the network, including in terms of backup generation, rather than hoisting them on to consumers.

Moreover, that requirement should not just apply to new ­sources of renewable generation, as the Finkel report argues, but to existing ones, too: if they can’t afford those costs, we are better off if they shut down.

As for reducing emissions, if that is the government’s goal, it should pursue it by paying no more for abatement than the price at which it can purchase it overseas, which is a fraction of the amount taxpayers and consumers currently shoulder.

And emissions reductions should be secured wherever their costs are lowest, rather than imposing a disproportionate burden on our power sector.

Merely to list those measures is to highlight how unlikely they are to happen. Indeed, Labor is determined to go in the opposite direction, with its target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 (which implies quadrupling the share of wind and solar in just 12 years) certain to push the system beyond the point of collapse.

Perhaps that is what Australians want: Third World outcomes with First World costs. But if it isn’t, we need to abandon the illusion that constraints can be ignored and happiness purchased with wishes.

Until we do, the destruction wreaked on energy and telecommunications will be merely a teaser for the disasters that lie ahead.
The Australian

Turnbull & Frydenberg tinkering at the periphery.

11 thoughts on “South Australia’s Renewable Energy Fiasco: Wind ‘Powered’ State to Run On Diesel-Fuelled Jet Engines

  1. You cannot compare the NBN to power generation both in policy and outcomes.

    Power generation policy is based on belief not reality, the reason why you could never convince the Pope God does not exist based on logic and evidence is because the Pope never used logic and evidence to come to the conclusion Gods exists in the first place.

    Pollies are like the Pope with renewables, the belief in CO2 causes AGW drives the policy and you will never change that. Here in SA we are fast approaching weapons grade stupid with our CSP plant being announced, apparently this plant will reduce our power bills which is an interesting point in itself.

    The dogma morphs constantly to avoid detection, first we dynamited our working coal plant to save the planet, now we are building tourist attractions to lower electricity prices.

    We have high electricity prices due to price gouging not due to the RET….what RET????

    If we blame the RET the whole house of cards collapses and we cant save the planet, hence the lie.

    Peak stupid will be here very soon.

  2. History has shown that using diesel based fuel in turbine type engines often leads to high build up of other elements deposited on the turbine blades. This in turn produces an imbalance in the rotor and early failure of the bearings etc.

  3. Hubby and I are “windfarm refugees”, having been involved in the Toora windfarm debacle and being forced from our home, we now hear of three new windfarms being touted in the South Gippsland area. Listening to the local ABC station this morning, the lies and mis-information spouted by “renewable experts” is unbelievable.

    How do we get people to look into the facts about renewables and stop the ever increasing onslaught of wind farms?

    Still suffering health issues. 5 cases of Meniere’s in the area surrounding the Toora site!!!

    Kath and Terry Hurst (Windfarm Refugees)

  4. The real reason Elon Musk is against diesel-fuelled jet engines as a source of electricity is that their introduction to the system puts the lie to his battery “solution”

      1. The reason why Musk was against the jet engines was valid in a strange twisted sort of way. Part of the process to introduce the jets is retailers are now on the hook to purchase at least 46% of their energy from synchronous generation (we only have one type of synchronous gen in SA and that is Gas).

        The price of Gas is currently at an eye watering high level so expect our power prices/cost of living to increase even further, so its another subsidy but this time for ‘dirty’ co2 polluters.

        The SA Gov. is in disarray, policy on the run. The black out was their “oh $h!t” moment their last chance to return to reality by supporting the re activation of Playford unfortunately they went the other way and doubled down and then doubled down again.

  5. Apparently Jay and Koutsy have asked the arrival lounge at Adelaide Airport to play the theme song to Simon Townsends ‘Wonder World” to all incoming visitors.

    ” If you believe anything is possible then you belong with me, let your mind run free.”

    SA at the moment is like an asylum where the lunatics are in charge. Their legacy will be an economic and social basket case.
    John Bannon’s State bank disaster had enormous consequences for the state, which in many respects we are still paying for, such as the selling of ETSA.
    Bannon admitted his mistake as state Premier and treasurer and moved on. As the State Bank disaster unravelled and in his later life I always thought he carried himself with a certain amount of dignity and remorse.
    Unlike those two imbeciles that are in charge of SA’s energy system now. Sneering and ranting from Koutsy are common place. An objectionable character that wont accept fault.

    The trouble is when they are kicked out of the state SA will still have to deal for decades with their ludicrous decisions.
    They have based the states energy generation around wind. In 10 to 15 years times the earliest wind farms will becoming to the end of their productive life. The RET subsides run out in 2030 as such repairing or replacing the wind farm will be financially unviable. In the years there after as more wind farms are shut down, SA having built its generation around wind farms will be in further turmoil by either having to go it alone and subsidising wind generation by itself or building another form of generation.

    There is no accountability from our state leaders and no way to hold them to account in future years for their incredibly destructive actions.

  6. The total extra Australian consumers will spend on electricity compared to what would have been spent if real electricity prices had stayed constant (i.e. prices increasing just at overall CPI rate) since 2000 will be $12.7Bn in 2017 and $14.4Bn in 2018.

    Plus there is the excess expenditure by business (which uses almost 3 times as much electricity as consumers). Thus the actual cost, largely flowing from the multiple distortions caused by the $3Bn RECs subsidy is actually in the tens of billions each and every year.

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