The Staggering Cost of Keeping the Lights on in Wind ‘Powered’ South Australia

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


South Australians have a Labor government and its deranged, ideological obsession with wind and solar power to thank for their status as an international joke.

Paying the highest retail power prices in the world (with much worse to come – see above), routine load shedding and statewide blackouts, and a grid on the brink of collapse, is all the inevitable consequence of attempting to run an economy on sunshine and breezes.

One of the reasons things got this way (and it happened in a bit over 16 years) is the manner in which the useful idiots in the mainstream press pumped wind power, as if it was a sacred gift delivered by some magical and benevolent deity.

In South Australia, the wind cult kicked off around 2002 when its then Premier, Mike Rann started tilting at windmills – encouraged by the boys from Babcock & Brown (aka Infigen): How a Band of Criminals, Shysters & Chancers Conjured Up the Wind Industry in Australia

Rann, a former journalist, understood the importance of propaganda and using tame journalists to spread his message; his obsessive control of the media would have made Joseph Goebbels proud.

In South Australia, geographically enormous (bigger than Texas) with an ageing population of about 1.6 million, its print media is dominated by one masthead, The Advertiser.

Once upon a time, The Advertiser was a solid broadsheet, with a conservative economic bent. Thanks to Rann, these days it reads more like Pravda-on-the-Torrens and most of its journalists sound more like unreconstructed Trotskyites.

In a sign that the tide is finally turning, The Advertiser is starting to run articles pointing out the fact that the RE Emperor stands naked before us, and that Premier Jay Weatherill, the Grand Poobah of wind is leading his state to inevitable economic ruin. Here’s one from Caleb Bond.

Easy being green when you are playing politics
The Advertiser
Caleb Bond
29 January 2018

POWER to the people was once a slogan thrown around by young types with long hair, smelly armpits and a taste for lentils. Now, it just means people want their lights to turn on.

It seems surreal that we would worry about the availability of power in a successful, first-world nation such as Australia. How can we not have sorted this out?

Electricity is one of the most basic requirements of modern human life, and we are well within our rights to expect electricity to be available at any time — whether it be hot or not.

Consumers have been treated like mugs. The State and Federal Governments continually blame each other in a quest for political capital. We are the losers in this.

Electricity is not a game. And if we don’t fix the broken system soon, we’ll swelter through many more summers without airconditioning.

This has real consequences. In 2015, a Wayville man died because his ventilator stopped working in a blackout. For some, a blackout is an inconvenience. For others, it’s a serious threat.

South Australia has the highest power prices in Australia. In 2016, before the Northern Power Station in Port Augusta was blown up, the average spot price for electricity was $61.67.

In May two years ago, that power station was shut down by Alinta because it was no longer profitable to run, ostensibly because of the growing demand for renewables. That put our use of renewable energy at more than 43 per cent — the highest of any state. Later that year, the whole state was plunged into darkness.

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s final report found the unreliability of wind power played a role.

There were continual major blackouts for months after that, some hitting as many as 200,000 people when we were disconnected from the national power grid.

In April last year, the State Government announced our use of renewables had hit 53 per cent. The set target was 50 per cent by 2025. So quelle surprise when the average electricity spot price for 2017 in SA turns out to be a whopping $108.66. So far this year, it sits at $98.72.

This isn’t rocket science. Even the most virulent supporter of renewable energy can, after enough waterboarding, admit the link between more renewables and increased power prices.

The coal-fired Hazelwood Power Station was closed in Victoria last year and the average spot price over there has jumped from $66.58 to $97.48. The long-term numbers speak for themselves.

It is the one issue that could win the Coalition the next federal election, if they have the foresight to prosecute the case. But I won’t hold my breath.

The State Government has been allowed to perpetrate the biggest swindle on this state by positioning itself as our power saviour, when it was in fact the creator of our destruction.

It set the renewable targets that led to cheap coal-fired power stations being closed.

It allowed the change to renewables to be too much, too soon.

And then, when it all went bung, they turned around and blamed the feds for buggering up the national energy market.

The front is astounding.

Think back to the press conference last March where Jay Weatherill unleashed a diatribe on Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

It wasn’t our state’s fault for being reliant on other states for energy, but the other mob because they don’t like us. Boo hoo.

And somehow, he came out looking like the winner. This is politics. Off they go to build the world’s biggest battery — possibly the most cunning bit of political publicity this state has seen — and bring in diesel-powered generators to stop the lights turning off. It is surely the biggest admission that our renewables experiment has been a failure when you have to call in generators to burn pure fossil fuels.

Many households now have generators at the ready. This harks back to a time when electricity was not available to the everyman and only the wealthy could afford to set up their own power supplies.

That was the point of coal power — a great leap in the wonder of human potential that would make electricity as much of staple as bread and water. Now, it seems we’re on the road to making electricity a luxury again.

It’s all well and good for environmental and government types to push us towards renewables. They may well be able to afford it. But for the rest of us, the economic hurt and threat of darkness outweigh the supposed benefits.

Most sensible people understand that renewables have to be part of our ongoing power policy. When it works, it’s brilliant. And no one can argue that if there’s a buck to be made out of the abundant sun this nation enjoys, we ought to harness it.

But that cannot come at the expense of a reliable power grid. We cannot force people toward renewable energy. When it is cost-effective and practical to do so, the market will dictate the rise of wholesale wind and solar power. We can’t force it by setting targets and then being surprised when the system doesn’t work as well as expected.

As much as the State Government would like to think it could single-handedly fix our state’s power woes and renationalise the grid like some kind of socialist utopia, it simply isn’t possible. There needs to be a unified push, along the lines of the Federal Government’s national energy guarantee — which, of course, our government is fighting.

Last week, in the midst of consecutive days of high temperatures, SA relied on the eastern states to keep our power ticking over. Last Thursday, a third of our power was flowing in from Victoria.

During that warm period, only 6.5 per cent of our energy was being generated by wind. This is the truth of how unreliable renewable energy can be when we rush the transition. On days like that, without the help of other states that burn coal, we’d be cooked in more ways than one.

We cannot go it alone. And while it may look good for our Labor Government to take it to the feds and pretend they’re the problem, it does nothing to secure our long-term electricity future. It’s time for the kids to get out the sandpit and start acting like adults.
The Advertiser

Not a bad effort, for a beginner! And at least he’s asking the right questions about where SA’s power really comes from.

Despite the hype about South Australia being the ‘world’s renewables leader’ and ‘the wind power capital of Australia’, every other day, SA’s wind power output collapses, on a total and totally unpredictable basis: dropping by anything from 700 MW to 1,000 MW in a matter of minutes (see above the entire output from SA’s 19 wind farms with a combined notional capacity of 1,698 MW during January).

The mega-battery Californian Carpet-bagger, Elon Musk sold Jay Weatherill for $150 million has a notional capacity of 100 MW, barely a tenth of what’s needed to plug the gaps depicted above.

Caleb at least puts his finger on the issue when he talks about Thursday, 25 January. Here’s what SA’s whirling wonders were up to that day:

With a ‘performance’ like that – totally powering down, just as households and businesses were powering up – anyone suggesting that wind power is a meaningful generation source needs urgent assistance from a mental health professional.

The cost of backfilling hundreds of ‘missing’ wind megawatts, by importing coal-fired power from Victoria, running gas-fired OCGTs, reciprocating diesel engined generators and Jay Weatherill’s 276 MW diesel-fuelled Open Cycle Turbines (that chew up 80,000 litres of diesel every hour) is staggering: Wind ‘Powered’ South Australia Pays $14,000 per MWh for Power that Coal-Fired Plants Can Deliver for $50

Where Caleb Bond comes unstuck is in the use of the word ‘transition’ and his suggestion that if only SA had thrown all to the wind just a little slower, it wouldn’t be suffering its present power pricing and supply calamity.

Anyone that wants to know what the ‘transition’ to an all renewables future looks like, need look no further than South Australia. Anyone still keen to follow suit, should be prepared to become an international laughing-stock. South Australia, already is:

6 thoughts on “The Staggering Cost of Keeping the Lights on in Wind ‘Powered’ South Australia

  1. The cynics here don’t understand that Australia will have the cheapest renewable electricity in the world in a few years time. What 17th century based economy would have known what to do with an unreliable, intermittent electricity supply system, of course they would have kept using their candles, water wheels, windmills and horse drawn transport and the price of uncompetitive electricity would have fallen to near zero.

    That is exactly where Australia is heading being led by a bunch of know nothing lawyer politicians and a bunch of clueless media tarts. Australia of the 21st century mimics a Barnum and Baileys circus more than a competently run first world country

  2. I cannot follow your illustration’s logic. Fig. 1 needs a unit, so is it $ per day, $ per year, $ per hour, $ per customer, $ per ….What is the unit of measure for comparison?

    In the third illustration shown, Fig. 3, what is the date or the year in which these electric rates apply?

    If you provide data make it meaningful to folks who are not as familiar with the topic.

    1. The first graphic is the wholesale price per MWh.

      The last graphic is the current (as from 1 July 2017) retail prices in cents per KWh.

      Sorry we didn’t spell it out in the kind of detail you apparently need.

  3. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “Even the most virulent supporter of renewable energy can, after enough waterboarding, admit the link between more renewables and increased power prices.

    “…and bring in diesel-powered generators to stop the lights turning off. It is surely the biggest admission that our renewables experiment has been a failure when you have to call in generators to burn pure fossil fuels.”

    EXCELLENT read on the unreliable-energy fiasco that is wreaking havoc on the livelihoods and economies of Victoria and South Australian taxpayers…

  4. A copy of my latest book “STT Syndrome – not a sexually transmitted disease” can be found at “Ego- mania “publications.

    It has become apparent since the inception of the blog site STT in December 2012 and its crusade to destroy the wind industry, the consequences for rent seekers, delusional left wing nuts and their associated twitter jockeys have been severe, with many now suggesting they suffer from “STT Syndrome.”

    My research covered 100 participants within the wind industry and listed their numerous complaints.
    The most common complaint amongst those participating was that at each night at around 5:30pm coinciding with the publishing of STT’s evening blog, they would start involuntarily twitching, which was quickly followed by a cold sweat and in extreme cases, severe scratching of one’s genital region. Some felt an urge to kick their dog off the mat.

    I interviewed several spouses of those involved; many had noted changes in their partners.

    One spouse was deeply worried her husband would fritter away his vast inheritance. He has ludicrous bets with anyone who doesn’t believe wind power is the answer to Australia’s energy woes. He’s gambling bottles of Penfolds Grange regularly, stating that the end of coal is nigh.
    I’m worried he will start a cult, he now calls himself The great REM, the “Renewable Energy Messiah.”

    One distressed spouse says her husband has lost his mojo. He comes home from work each night, sits in the dark, in his favourite chair with not a stitch on but his leather jacket and dark shades, mumbling profanities.
    For God’s sake he has even taken up “e-vaping.”

    Despite the complaints, my research has found no medical institution in the world has uncovered a link between STT and the complainant’s symptoms.
    If anything, it was found the publishing of FACTS on the wind industry by STT which was often contrary to the beliefs of the wind industry had a debilitating effect on their mental well being.

    A spokesperson for a clean energy organisation said “it’s hard enough pushing our agenda, let alone being caught with our pants down.”

    All proceeds from the book sale will go to setting up the “Jay Weatherill home for the delusional.”

    Critic’s comments;
    Ron Burgundy says “stay classy STT”

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