Dirty Diesel the Real ‘Solution’ to South Australia’s Renewable Energy Disaster

Jay Weatherill’s dirty diesel dozen: the actual solution to his power debacle.


But for pride, arrogance and hubris SA’s vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill could have kept South Australia chugging away cheaply on coal-fired power for a paltry $30 million; the amount that Alinta wanted to keep its 520 MW Port Augusta power plant running for another five years or so.

In a fit of petulance, Weatherill rejected that offer and, instead, determined to throw $550 million of taxpayers’ money at diesel fuelled jet engines (open cycle gas turbines, which can be run on diesel or gas) and a mega-battery delivered on time (but not without drama) by Californian carpetbagger, Elon Musk.

The battery will go down as one of history’s most expensive political vanity projects, while the actual work will be done by his dirty diesels.

Irony is an art form which requires a well-tuned intellect to detect. Apparently, the irony of blowing up a perfectly good coal-fired power plant to replace it with highly inefficient diesel fuelled jet engines is completely lost on the clowns that purport to run South Australia.

Here’s another take on Weatherill’s wonderland from JoNova, which comes with an STT irony alert, for those so attuned.

South Australia heads back 100 years to diesel (with battery back up)
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
2 December 2017

A big fuss was made today over the world record battery, but the diesel generators put on a hire-purchase plan three days ago are more than twice the power:

The world’s biggest lithium ion battery has been launched in South Australia, with Premier Jay Weatherill declaring it an example of SA “leading the world”.

The first diesel generator was patented in 1892. Go, Go, SA.

A battery bandaid arrived barely in the nick of time:

That reliability was tested before the battery’s official launch when it began dispatching around 59 megawatts into the state’s electricity network on Thursday afternoon as the state hit temperatures above 30C.

How fragile is this system?

The facility has the capacity to power 30,000 homes for up to an hour in the event of a severe blackout but is more likely to be called into action to even out electricity supplies at less critical times.

There are 673,540 households in South Australia and the Big Battery can supply 4% of them for an hour with electricity, or all of the state for a bit over two minutes.

As Commenter Robber says:

SA peak demand of about 2000 MW, so the world’s biggest battery can supply only 1.25% of the second smallest state in Australia, or 0.1% of the AEMO grid peak requirement. [And that’s only for four hours].

Day 1 and neighbours got a blackout:
Widespread thunderstorms swept across the state overnight, with lightning strikes damaging some powerlines, including in the Jamestown area.

Northern Areas Council mayor Denis Clark said a number of nearby farmers were left blacked out. “They were wondering if the Premier would supply some long extension cords so they could tap into the battery to get some power,” he said.

Bev Lovell, who lives near the windfarm and battery site, said a number of recent blackouts had left her angry and frustrated. “I look out our bathroom window and I look at wind turbines,” she said. — ABC NEWS


The Premier said no type of power generator could prevent the sorts of blackouts caused by lightning damage to power lines and other infrastructure. “We had 250,000 lightning strikes — an extraordinary number,” he said. “It’s amazing we don’t have more lines down and we don’t have more people out of power.”

SA taxpayers will pay up to $50 million in subsidies to Tesla and Neoen over the next 10 years. In return, the State Government will have access to 70 per cent of the energy stored within the battery.

Three days ago SA signed a deal to get 276 MW of diesels
The opposition are calling it a scandal:

JUDICIAL inquiry will be held into the State Government’s “scandalous” process to purchase 276MW of gas-diesel turbines if the Opposition wins next year’s election. — The Advertiser

In August the diesels were going to cost about $110m.

The Weatherill government had in August confirmed it would spend $111.5 million as part of a $550m go-it-alone energy plan on leasing generators to ensure the lights stay on before voters go to the polls. — The Australian

Today the cost is “commercial in confidence”:

Premier Jay Weatherill won’t reveal the price of leasing or purchasing the turbines, but says it’s included in the Government’s $550 million energy plan.

So they cost more than $111m but less than $500m?

The diesels were installed in 58 days, and can be powered up in 8 minutes:

The battery and its clean and green halo is in stark contrast with the bank of diesel-powered fast-start generators which have also just been constructed. They are located at two different sites in Adelaide, built in a rapid 58 days by United States firm APR Energy. Those generators deliver a combined 276MW and were connected to the broader electricity grid on November 13. They are powered by diesel fuel, but will only be switched on in a power shortfall emergency to quickly step into the breach if demand exceeds supply. They can be at full speed within just 8 minutes, from a standing start.

APR Energy executive chairman John Campion won’t comment on the final cost of the nine turbines… — Australian Fin Review

The batteries may last long enough to get the diesels up and running. (Depending on the size of the shortfall).

As I said – there was a cheaper option:

Not long back, Port Augusta had a thirty-one year old coal plant generating 520MW. The Premier could have spent $30 million to keep it going. Though coal resources are running very low in SA, so coal would have to be shipped in. It’s still cheaper than the hire-purchase-diesel-battery-wind-solar solution.

Further Information

Jo Nova Blog

Enough diesel to power Jay’s jets for an hour or two.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Chris Ashton says:

    ‘Wind’ and ‘Solar’ energy being fed into the grid is totally ridiculous! We must change our methods of energy use. Do not waste time and money feeding energy into a very inefficient reticulated power grid because there are 100’s of megawatts of power wasted/losses by thousands of kilometres of cables and also step up and step down transformers making up this age old grid system that has never been suited to Australia. The area is too large and the distances too great and not enough users to make it efficient for the domestic consumer who has to pay for this reticulated wasted power from whatever electricity generated system. As I commented on the 14th Dec 2017 – We need a whole new approach to domestic energy use; Domestic users should provide their own energy for lighting and small appliances that is driven by Solar and stored in batteries for low energy use and use the reticulated grid system for high energy use, for example air conditioners. Do away with the electric cook top and water heater – use gas instead. Gee, no more more ‘Brownouts’
    Also Wind Generators and Solar Panels and Huge Lithium batteries will be a nightmare to dispose of in a decade or so.
    Refer to my comment yesterday.

    • Fine, you pay for it, and don’t look to us for subsidies, soft loans, mandates or targets. Now, tell us how to you power business, infrastructure, such as water and sewage, traffic lights etc, etc without a grid? If people wanted to generate and store their own power, they’d be doing it now, in droves. But, most people aren’t engineers, nor can they afford the kind of infrastructure you’re talking about. Most people – households and businesses – consider power an essential commodity, designed to be delivered, in bulk, on demand and at a price everyone can afford. Not just troughers who get subsidised panels and batteries and mandated feed in rates, 10 times the cost of what conventional power costs to generate and deliver, literally stealing from their neighbours. No one is stopping your hippy grid, but don’t expect those in the real world also want to destroy business and jobs by wrecking the system designed and built to power everyone and everything.

      • Chris Ashton says:

        I agree with your comments, however this forum only allows me to give short answers. It would be great if we could turn the clock back 50 years and start afresh, but that is impossible, so we must keep the extra high voltage grid system with all its faults.
        I don’t like wind farms because as we all know, they have their inherent problems and consume energy when not generating it. They will be very costly to maintain and already we are finding that noise pollution from them is a problem. Also, I have not seen any statistics for magnetic radiation and Cancer from the high current cables, that may cause Cancers in years to come – just like the magnetic effects from domestic appliances (electric cook tops etc) that should cause Cancer.
        We are the lucky country, because of our abundance of sunshine therefore if domestic users installed Solar and Battery storage we need not be reliant on this grid system, however gas would be needed for things like cooking and water heating unless the user installed larger Solar systems. Electric cook tops use large amounts of energy at peak times so this would relieve the pressure on the grid. We use it, then we should pay for it and be responsible for its disposal when it breaks down.
        In Australia we only have a small amount of Hydro potential which will only make it a quick fix unsustainable source of power into the future. Sadly nuclear seems to be our only solution to take us into the future with our population growth. So like ‘Edison’ when he invented the light bulb, all business’s wanted reticulated electricity to drive their machinery but the public fought against it because it was a killer, alas to no avail and industry won, but we all adapted to it over the decades.
        I think we currently need the grid system with all its faults to supply Industry and Public services until it can be phased out in a sensible manner, but we need to change our way of thinking about the way we use and abuse electricity, a way that will take us into the future with sustainability.

      • You say ‘Sadly nuclear seems to be our only solution’. Why ‘Sadly’?

        Nuclear power provides reliable, affordable and CO2 emissions free electricity – there is nothing ‘sad’ about it.


        And we wouldn’t mind some direct answers to the direct propositions we put to you in our reply to your previous comment.


    Very well written putting things in context. Weatherill must be a buffoon owned by big business. I hope someone reads the emissions from the diesels. But most people are intimidated by people / mechanics with spanners and the area will be fenced off and under ” security “. David above is spot on too . Venezuela here we come !

  3. this is what happens when you’re ignorant and arrogant to think you can force a premature change and make it work and don’t have the infrastructure in place to switch to a new power source.

    • What ‘new’ power source are you talking about? Wind power, abadoned as soon as thermal energy was captured to create motive power? No country runs on wind power, SA proves that it’s impossible. And its battery wont make a scrap of difference.

  4. The article found in this link is another example of the tireless efforts of stakeholders (Green pollies, greedy investors, brainwashed millenials, left wing academics, inner city elitists, journalists etc etc etc) in perpetuating the myth of climate change. If they focused their energy on real environmental issues the planet would be all the better for it and we’d all still have jobs.

    The article reveals a clever but dangerous strategy – if these lies are not stopped the road to Venezuela is the one we are on.
    Another example of the madness that has taken control of Fairfax “journalists”. This is not the best example of Nicole Hasham’s green bias but she seems to have found a topic that gives her a good chance of getting published and thus paying her rent etc.

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