Renewables Reckoning: Power Prices Double in Wind ‘Powered’ South Australia & Victoria, in Just 12 Months

One inevitable consequence of shackling your economy to intermittent and heavily subsidised wind and solar power is rocketing power prices. Another is routine load shedding (controlled blackouts) and statewide blackouts (when the grid manager completely loses control). All of those consequences are playing out in wind powered South Australia and its neighbouring state, Victoria. Both are run by Labor governments, both of which are led by equally unhinged characters, equally obsessed with nature’s wonder fuels, sunshine and breezes.

Recent mass load shedding events in Victoria have drawn attention to the debacle among the proletariat. But it’s watching power prices double, and double again, that really incenses the masses. That fact, as transparent as it is inevitable, is what irks renewables zealots most.

You see, try as they might, there is no other explanation for it than the massive cost of the subsidies to retail power consumers, and the chaos that the intermittent and only occasional delivery of wind and solar power causes to the orderly delivery of electricity to the grid and the market for power.

As an example of the chaos dished up the wind, see above – courtesy of Aneroid Energy – the output from all of the wind turbines that operate in South Australia and Victoria, comprising 35 separate wind farms, with a notional capacity of 3,214 MW during January (SA has 1,698 MW of wind power capacity, Victoria has 1,516 MW).

With dozens of occasions where output surges, and then totally collapses, in magnitudes of 1,000 to 2,000 MW in the space of minutes, it’s little wonder that both states have grids on the brink of collapse.

Electricity is designed to be generated and delivered around strict and close tolerances, as to voltage and frequency. The grid is not designed to tolerate the kind of chaos depicted above; and the consequences include: automatic system shutdowns, tripped fuses and circuit breakers, exploding transformers and all manner of permanent damage to the grid and its infrastructure caused by massive voltage surges and equally massive drops, especially when the load (ie demand) is rapidly increasing (eg hot summer days and nights). The grid was never designed to have 1,000-2,000 MW pumped into it in the space of minutes, without warning; nor was it set up to have the same volume of power disappear, without warning, in the same time-frame (see above).

Then there’s the issue of what appears on power bills received by hard-pressed households and battling businesses.

Becoming more desperate and silly by the minute, the likes of SA Premier, Jay Weatherill and his bully-boy sidekick, Tom Koutsantonis keep predicting that retail power prices will soon plummet back to earth, thanks to the wonders of wind.

As American baseball and pop philosopher, Yogi Berra put it: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”.

Well, noting Yogi’s sensible trepidation, STT will go out on a limb: the prices that retail power customers pay for electricity in South Australia and Victoria will only increase from here. Here’s why.

Wholesale energy prices double in a year in Victoria and South Australia
The Australian
Samantha Hutchinson and Michael Owen
30 January 2018

Average wholesale energy prices in Victoria and South Australia have more than doubled since this time last year, as experts warn that blackouts and supply issues are likely to increase as state governments chase ­aggressive ­renewable energy ­targets.

More than 2000 Victorian households remained without power yesterday after two days of heat triggered equipment failures and blackouts, opening up distributors to compensation claims.

The mass outages affected more than 60,000 residents, some of whom were cut off for more than 28 hours.

The outages struck as new data showed the average wholesale energy price in Victoria climbed to $139 this month, up from $62 in January last year. In South Australia, the wholesale average price for January climbed to almost $170, up from $84 a year ago, whereas prices fell in NSW and Queensland to about $75.

The pricing data has angered energy experts, who say blackouts and supply ­issues are likely to increase and prices are likely to rise as the Victorian and South Australian governments pursue renewable energy targets without prioritising power sources that can supply baseload power.

Grattan Institute energy ­director Tony Wood said Sunday’s and Monday’s blackouts and high pricing showed that the state had botched its energy transition program by allowing baseload power sources — such as the Hazelwood power station — to be replaced by renewables, which delivered intermittent power.

“We’re dealing with a complex transition and it hasn’t been ­managed very well so far,” Mr Wood said. “That’s why we’ve seen local outages and high prices on the weekend, and that’s the reason why wholesale prices are substantially higher this year than last year.

“It’s a reflection of a failed policy. We’re transitioning away from centralised, cheap but dirty power stations, but we’re not ­replacing these stations with sources that are just as stable.”

Comparing 2016 (red) and 2017 (blue) average
wholesale prices ($per MWh) of electricity by state

 

The Andrews government last year broke away from other states and territories by instituting its own Victorian Renewable Energy Target, with a plan for renewables to power 40 per cent of the state’s energy needs by 2025.

Mr Wood said the energy supply could get patchier and the state could emerge as a net importer of electricity as the government replaced coal-fired power stations with solar and wind and other intermittent power sources, which did not fire 24 hours a day.

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg confirmed that the weekend power outages were the result of distribution rather than supply issues, but said the state government needed to do more to boost reliability.

He urged Victorian Premier Daniel ­Andrews to rethink the ­renewable energy target while branding South Australia’s renewables plan an experiment gone “horribly wrong”.

“Reliability standards for networks are set by state governments,” Mr Frydenberg said. “AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) have highlighted that supply in Victoria is tight and that is why we have called upon the Andrews government to drop its reckless state-based renewable energy targets and mindless bans on gas.

“Jay Weatherill’s ‘big experiment’ has gone horribly wrong. South Australia has the highest prices and the least stable energy system in the country and, despite the bravado in the lead-up to summer, their energy problems remain. Just a couple of weeks ago, South Australia’s prices reached $14,200 a megawatt hour, while at the same time they were $89 a MWh in NSW and $85 MWh in Queensland.

“The wind turbines, which can produce 100 per cent of energy on one day and zero on another, were not blowing when needed most, providing less than 5 per cent of power and Jay Weatherill’s big battery less than 1 per cent.”

Australian Power Project chief executive Nathan Vass warned that Victoria’s energy supply with a larger proportion of renewables likely would have buckled under conditions such as those of Sunday night.

“Batteries and solar would not have saved Victoria as over 17,000 Victorians had no power throughout the night, when the sun isn’t shining,” Mr Vass said.

“Pairing renewables with battery storage wouldn’t have done much to alleviate the blackout. By way of example, the Tesla battery facility in South Australia only provides power for an hour to 30,000 homes.”

Release of the wholesale pricing data in South Australia — and data showing South Australia still has the highest prices in the National Electricity Market — prompted state opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan to savage a claim by Mr Weatherill that his $550 million “self-sufficient” energy plan was producing the lowest power prices in the national market.

“South Australians are furious about the outrageous price of electricity they pay and tired of the Weatherill government’s refusal to accept responsibility,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said wholesale power prices were “notoriously volatile”. “Since August, wholesale power prices in South Australia have been consistently cheaper than Victoria, and in September and October, SA had the cheapest wholesale prices of mainland states in the National Electricity Market,” he said.

In Victoria, Mr Andrews blamed the outages on the Coalition’s decision to privatise the state’s energy assets in the 1990s. “Fact is, there was more than enough power being generated to meet the demand yesterday — but the private companies and their distribution systems failed yet again,” he said on Twitter.

Mr Andrews said he would push for distributors to pay compensation to households that were left for long periods without power.
The Australian

Move over Nostradamus, here comes Tom ‘Mr Predictions’ Koutsantonis.

 

With an election looming in SA next month, Tom Koutsantonis can be forgiven for attempting to defy facts, reason and logic. Politics is, of course, always about gilding the lily. However, statements like those laid out above soon become like the etchings on a marble tombstone for politicians foolish enough to make them, especially in such concrete terms.

Large numbers of South Australians (and Victorians) are about to receive power bills for the second quarter – October, November and December 2017.

From 1 July 2017, retail rates jumped 20% in SA, following a 12% increase the year before. Retailers in Victoria are bound to follow suit. The comparative average retail rates that applied from July last year are set out below.

Victorians (for the time being) enjoy cheaper power than South Australians, thanks to what’s left of its reliable coal-fired plant situated in their Latrobe Valley. But, with their Premier Daniel Andrews keen to follow Weatherill’s lead, that advantage won’t last for long: the Victorian Labor government cheered with delight when the 1,600 MW Hazelwood plant was shut down last year, and is pushing it very own ludicrous 50% Renewable Energy Target.

As detailed in that devilish data above, in a short 12 months, the wholesale price has doubled in SA ($84.26 to $168.90) and more than doubled in Victoria ($62.04 to $139). Those eco-zealots claiming ‘it’s coal what dunnit’ might take a closer look at coal-fired Queensland and New South Wales.

Remarkably, both states enjoy wholesale power prices within a bee’s whisker of each other at $75.65 (QLD) and $75.36 (NSW) – with those prices having fallen since 2016. Those prices compare rather favourably with wind powered SA, where the wholesale price is 2.25 times higher; and wind powered Victoria, where the wholesale price is more than 1.8 times higher.

Queensland has virtually no wind power generating capacity and NSW a piddling 826 MW; the generation capacity of both states is dominated by coal-fired power plants (the stats for fossil fuel generators by state are available here), and those plants are here to stay.

STT hears that a deal to regain control of NSW’s coal- and gas-fired plant, and to build a new HELE coal-fired plant in the Hunter Valley, is about to be struck between retailer, Red Energy (owned by the NSW government) and Snowy Hydro. Apparently, members of the NSW Nationals (the junior Coalition government partner with the Liberals) have been spooked by events in South Australia and Victoria, and are very keen to decouple their state from the National Energy Market and go it alone.

The numbers set out above suggest at least one very good reason for doing so.

Which brings us back to Tom Koutsantonis, aka ‘Nostradamus’.

Tom reckons retail power prices in SA will fall. STT predicts otherwise.

Why not give Tom a call and see if he’s prepared to put his money, where his mouth is?

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Crispin Trist says:

    A new HELE plant ‘Downunder’?

    AT LAST!!

    Could 2018 be the year that ‘common sense’ prevails?

    Having said that, I still think that a fleet of 5th Generation Nuclear Power Stations could be the long term answer. You could have 7 of them located around Australia, named after famous Prime Ministers.

    Australia could then begin to see some serious emission reductions with a reliable base load power supply, in addition to HELE, GAS, and Hydro.

  2. thomaskennedy2 says:

    How can I post a short article on this website on the effect of industrial wind turbines. These monsters have overtaken all other causes for mass mortality events for bats in North America and Europe. Millions of bats are killed each year at a time when mosquito populations are skyrocketing. Approximately twice as many bats are killed as birds, since bats are killed even if they only come near the blades due to rapid pressure changes. In the US, a conservative estimate of bat mortality indicates that at least 4 million bats have been killed by wind turbines since 2012. Bats are one of nature’s primary natural defenses for keeping mosquito populations in check.

    >

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Well Weatherill and his sidekick Koutsantonis have made a ‘sweatheart’ deal with guess who – that’s right Elon Musk to provide battery’s and solar panels for 50,000 homes – Housing Trust renters and low income homes in the Northern district around Salisbury.
    All paid for by a Grant and Loan to Musk. This is apparently to create a ‘hub’ or solar energy plant.
    Those who ask for and are then chosen to participate get the panels and battery’s free. Nothing mentioned about who pays for installation or whether it’s included in the deal.
    There will be a retailer selected to deal with the nitty gritty of the distribution and accounting.
    They use what energy they need and the left over is sent to the grid.
    Everyone with the panels will get their energy cheaper – Weatherill said savings would be around $300per annum per home, the energy used will be calculated and then divided equally between everyone – so if you use little your bill will be the same as someone who goes for broke and uses lots.
    This may sound reasonable – to some – BUT we are also told Musk will be paying the loan back from the sale of the energy!!??
    So who is going to be making money from it Musk or the Retailer – will the cost of the energy be higher to accommodate profits to both?
    It also sounds messy and frankly too good to be true, which would suggest it is.
    No one has said who will pay for any maintenance or who’ll pay for replacement batteries or panels if/when needed.
    Also what price will they pay for the energy they use from the grid which is NOT produced by this plant, when the sun isn’t shining and the batteries go flat? Or when what is stored in the batteries is used to shore up the grid when wind fails?
    Another thing is how this honey trap has been offered to those in the Northern suburbs – one of Labors strongholds, and that it has been announced just before we go into Care-take mode before the election.
    Nor has anything been said as to whether Tenders were called for the project – maybe it was simply handed to Labors ‘Bestie’.
    Another thing that makes this sound like a last minute attempt at saving Labor is that as a result of an unrelated project announcement a while ago some homes have already been fitted with panels and battery’s ready for a trial period, with at least one going ‘on line’ when the announcement of this deal was announced as being a part of this deal.
    This announcement was either a mistake and mishap in announcing it as part of this deal, or just a case that Musk has over achieved and managed to get it started in super fast time and even quicker than the 100 day deal for the other battery he sold us.
    Maybe it will be like Labors promise last time round when they said 5000 Trust homes would be provided with Panels, and only something like 4-500 have actually been installed.
    Oh such wonderful times on the roller coaster called South Australian politicking.

    • Jay Weatherill must be the greatest Patsy of all time, yet again falling for Elon Musk’s spin. The renewables Ponzi scheme just keeps on grinding Australian power users into energy poverty.

  4. Son of a goat says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion after the mass media orgy over Jay’s virtual battery storage annoucent today, that if you tell South Australian’s they are world leaders in renewable generation and now world leaders in battery storage they will vote Labor back in.
    The delusion of a worldwide acclamation for the states green credentials to its already down trodden constituents who have been fed bullshit by an ignorant media may be enough to get it re-elected.

    Jay has just become Elon Musk’s once in a lifetime Alan Bond.
    Come in spinner!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: