Pointless & Pathetic: South Australia’s Wind Power Output Repeatedly Plummets During Summer Heatwave (Again)

Where coal, gas, hydro and nuclear just deliver, wind power delivers nothing but chaos.

If you’re looking for support for that truism, look no further than Australia’s wind power capital, South Australia.

It’s Premier, Jay Weatherill and his Energy Minister, Tom Koutsantonis are as deluded as they are dangerous, which means things will get a whole lot worse before they get any better.

Australia’s Summer guarantees rising temperatures and breathless days. Concurrently, and like clockwork, demand for power rises, as people head indoors and crank up their air conditioners, with businesses doing likewise.

A decade ago no one talked about ‘demand management’ (a marketing manual euphemism for Soviet-era power rationing). Now, thanks to the occasional and erratic delivery of wind power, it’s a very real thing. And nowhere is it more real than South Australia.

Weatherill and Koutsantonis, whose media rantings defy all reason and logic, occupy some parallel universe where windmills and batteries are (in their minds at least) powering their embattled economic backwater. Meanwhile, back on Earth, power prices are rocketing and South Australia’s grid is on the brink of collapse.

And the reason the fiasco is only a few mouse clicks away, thanks to the efforts of the boys over at Aneroid Energy. The graphic above captures the effort of South Australia’s 19 wind farms, with a notional capacity of 1698 MW, from 1 to 26 January.

With numerous output collapses in the order of 800-1000 MW taking place over the space of minutes, and 8 occasions where output dropped to less than 50 MW (or a piddling 2.9% of total capacity) claims that SA is the world’s ‘renewables leader’ seem more like an evil curse than any kind of god-sent blessing.

And all the more so, when temperatures rise and the wind stops blowing, as it did on 18-19 January.

South Australian heatwave sparks push for national energy plan
The Advertiser
Sheradyn Holderhead
22 January 2018


SOUTH Australia’s demand for east coast power surged during last week’s sweltering temperatures, reigniting the debate over national energy policy.

In a scathing attack, Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg called on the Weatherill Government to admit the state could not afford to cut the cord from Victoria because it relied on the national grid.

But State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis dismissed the comments as little more than “jealousy” over the international attention SA has attracted for its giant Tesla battery.

The Tesla battery at Hornsdale windfarm near Jamestown, SA


The admonishment was clearly aimed at ensuring energy was on the agenda ahead of the March state election and the April deadline for states to sign up to the Turnbull Government’s proposal to overhaul the power market.

SA has been leading the charge against the Turnbull Government’s national energy guarantee (NEG), policy which would force power retailers to meet reliability and emissions targets.

Data provided by the Federal Government showed SA relied on Victoria for almost a third of its electricity needs – 732MW – on Thursday night while wind generation dropped off to just 117MW and solar was at zero.

This was a reversal of the recent trend in which SA has been a net exporter of power to Victoria every week since July, helping to keep the lights on in the east at a lower cost.

Then on Friday afternoon, a severe weather warning forced the national grid operator to limit the amount of power being pumped into SA from Victoria to ensure the state’s power security.

The Heywood interconnector was overloaded and tripped during storms in September 2016, which led to SA’s infamous statewide blackout.

Mr Frydenberg said the events of last Thursday and Friday provided evidence that SA could not go it alone or would risk another blackout.

He said it should serve as yet another reminder why it was time SA Labor “admitted its failings” and signed on to the NEG to make the national grid more affordable and reliable. “There is no doubt SA has an over-reliance on wind power, which is not only causing reliability issues, but price volatility as well,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“The wind was blowing so little in SA during the heatwave it was only producing 6.5 per cent of its capacity, which meant it needed to import a stack of power from Victoria.

“Victoria was able to do this not only because of its coal- fired assets, which SA no longer has, but also because of hydro power from the Snowy and Tasmania.”

Mr Koutsantonis said it was easy to find figures from particular points in time to support an argument, but the longer-term data showed SA was regularly helping keep the lights on in Victoria.

He said this summer, the national grid operator had issued fewer supply shortage warnings for SA than for either NSW or Victoria. “Our power supply has been more reliable than the coal-reliant grids in the eastern states,” he said.

“The Tesla battery has been dispatched dozens of times . . . was used on December 14 to stabilise Victoria’s grid when a major coal-fired power station shut down.”

“Josh Frydenberg is . . . jealous of the international attention we are getting for our leadership in energy storage.”

Mr Koutsantonis said last week that SA’s diesel generators were also on standby. However, there was enough supply to meet demand, so they were not needed.
The Advertiser

Tom Koutsanonis: still living in a dream world.


Tom Koutsantonis reckons his state’s wind farms were delivering the goods for South Australians and Victorians, as well.

So, always ready to rain on Kouta’s parade, let’s drill down a little closer to see what SA’s whirling wonders were actually doing on 18 and 19 January (when South Australians needed power most).

Looking more like the profile of a terrifying Swiss ski run, that’s the entire output from SA’s wind farms on 18 January.

With a promising start, delivering almost 1,100 MW for a brief spurt, the team determined to down tools after breakfast, with a precipitous 500 MW collapse in less than 90 minutes. (To put that in perspective, Weatherill, Koutsantonis & Co have been cheering about the demolition of SA’s last coal-fired plant, which had a solid and reliably delivered capacity of 520 MW.)

Thereafter, output collapses 650 MW – from 700MW to 50 MW – over the course of the afternoon; precisely as demand for power peaked.

Weatherill, Koutsantonis and their wind worshipping cronies keep pointing to his $150 million mega-battery as some kind of miraculous saviour. Maths is clearly not among their strongest points. 100 MW (the notional capacity of the battery) fits five times into the margin of the first collapse, and 6½ times into the final post-lunch collapse on 18 January.

Here’s their combined effort on the following day, 19 January:

Having put in an almost respectable effort before morning tea – topping out at 1,000 MW – again, as the day warmed up and power demand surged, output plummets: a full 700 MW – from 1,000 MW to 300 MW – by mid-afternoon, where it bobbed along until 6pm.

At $150 million to get 100 MW worth of Tesla’s battery storage (said by its boosters to deliver 129 MWh), the cost of tooling up to accommodate 700-1,000 MW wind power output collapses every other day would pretty soon add up to $billions.

As pointed out by The Australian, the yawning gaps in SA’s wind power output weren’t back-filled by wind power lovingly stored in Musk’s Marvel, but by the trusty and reliable coal-fired plants still merrily chugging away in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. But that fact wouldn’t fit their narrative now, would it?

With a deranged and delusional leadership in charge, South Australians can look forward to rocketing power prices and rolling blackouts for years to come.

Welcome to your wind powered future!

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Jackie Rovensky says:

    The prancing around of Koutsantonis and Weatherill is enough to cause you to want to leave this beautiful place, but the best thing to do is rein them in and take control. Their bluster is fake they know they have destroyed the energy security of this State and others are destined to see the whole country go down the same path.
    At approximately noon on the 27th of this month the whole Eastern Grid was producing 131MW of wind power. SA’s contribution was 11MW.
    Today SA was using its diesel turbines to keep lights on all be it at a reduced voltage (Brownout) situation. During the afternoon at one point they were producing 107MW, yet still SA was not able to manufacture sufficient energy from all sources for its own needs.
    It’s believed these turbines require around 80,000lts of diesel per hour. Economical and clean, I don’t think so.
    Just a note: Today Adelaide reached a temperature of 44C and most of the State was above or only just below that. Not a good thing for people to have to be reducing their use of electricity, and why should we in a modern society have to even think we may be without energy when we need it?
    Also the Labor Government is going to spend masses amount of money to have the diesel turbines converted to use Gas – what happened to their policy of ridding the State of all fossil fuelled energy production? Well you’ll not find out from them as they choose to pretend they never had such a policy and hope we all forget they did.
    So much for Labor’s claims that SA will be able to go it alone and prices will come down as Wind Energy plants invade more intensely and the State becomes a backwater relying only on so called ‘renewables’ for our energy needs.
    While the claims are mooted by many from the industry and its supporters it’s just a matter of a profusion of puffery and chest beating from a troop of gorillas.
    Lets hope they are tamed before they completely destroy this State and Nation.

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