Renewables Hoax: Australia’s Biggest Retailer, AGL ‘Gets Out of Coal’ By Spending $200m Fixing Coal-Fired Power Plant

Chief of SA’s wind & sun cult and friends.


Renewables rent-seekers never talk about output, they only ever talk about capacity. Lines like the Windy Hill wind farm will power 30,000 homes, never come with the obvious caveat ‘sometimes’, and the rider that we can never say precisely ‘when’ that might be.

Promoters of wind and solar, fixated on the hundreds of $billions thrown at building new capacity, rarely discuss the actual value of all that capacity, in terms of what power consumers want and need most: power, power and more power. Not when the wind is blowing or the sun’s up, but when they actually need it.

Promises and talk don’t keep the lights on. Ask a South Australian.

In this piece, Anthony Cox runs the ruler over claims that SA is well on its way to an all renewable energy future.

It focuses on solar panels, which SA’s deluded Premier, Jay Weatherill is pitching as the saviour to his self-inflicted power pricing and supply calamity.

But, the point is equally applicable to wind power: viz, pin your energy hopes to the weather and expect the results to vary.

South Australian Madness
The Australian Climate Sceptics Blog
Anthony Cox
23 February 2018

We all know SA Premier, Weatherill is an alarmist loon who has swallowed the crazy pill of alarmism and its equally crazy offspring, renewables with gusto. He has blown up cheap reliable coal plants, invested unknown amounts of money in Musk’s battery, installed diesel generators, the most (real) polluting of all energy sources, except wood, which is about the only fuel source he has not tried. All in SA with the largest deposit of uranium in the world and now the dearest electricity in the world.

Peter Rees has already done some good work in highlighting the SA insanity, with Weatherill spending over $2 billion of taxpayers’ money for some wind and solar power while AGL, also up to its neck in alarmist and renewable spiffery, is paying $295 million, with some subsidies thrown in, for a gas generator which will produce much more electricity in a reliable fashion than the $2 billion of renewables.

Peter has done some more calculations which add to the diagnosis of insanity in SA. This time to do with the capacity factor of renewables, which is unashameably listed in the SA official election information. Capacity factor is the actual energy an electricity installation produces. Capacity factor is expressed as a % of the power of the installed capacity. The power is the installed capacity. So for instance if a new wind farm has an installed capacity of 100MW the capacity factor will be a % of that and described in MWh.

We know from long experience that the capacity factor of wind and solar is much less that the installed capacity which is why the alarmist spivs and ratbags only ever talk about the installed capacity. But now they have become so lazy, so hysterical and desperate that they actually admit the capacity factor, or the actual energy the stupid wind and solar produce is much less than the installed capacity.

The SA renewable energy report for 2017 says this on page 1 in the executive summary:

Total installed rooftop PV generation capacity is estimated to have increased 95 MW in 2016–17, to 781 MW. Total rooftop PV generation5 in South Australia for the year was 1,016 GWh, 12% higher than in 2015–16.

Peter supplies the analysis of this incredible nonsense:

The installed capacity of SA rooftop solar systems (2016-17) is 781MW which produced 1016GWh for the year.

The unit for electric power is called a Watt.
1000W = 1kW (KiloWatt)
1000kW = 1MW(MegaWatt)
1000MW = 1 GW(GigaWatt)

A household air conditioner is typically requires about 3-5kW
Hazelwood Powerplant could produce 1600MW in it’s heyday.
South Australian average demand is around 1420MW.

If we have a 5kW solar system installed on a rooftop and conditions are optimal it will in, in theory, produce 5kWh of electricity in an hour.

So if have a total of 781MW of rooftop solar systems they could, in theory, produce 781MW in an hour. But the sun doesn’t shine 24/7, clouds block sunshine, dirt reduces the absorption by the panels as does the angle of the sun so that installed capacity of 781MW is reduced.

But how much is it reduced? Look back to the statement in black above from the report. It says 781MW of rooftop solar produces 1016GWh for the year. To find out how much would be produced in an hour we divide by 365 then divide by 24.

1016 / 365 / 24 = 0.115GWh = 115MWh

So our 781MW of rooftop solar averages 115MW 24/7. If the sun was always shining and there was no cloud etc, the capacity factor would be 100% but in reality the capacity factor is 115/781 * 100 = 14.7%!

A wind turbine in the southern states has a capacity factor of around 30% and a fossil fuel plant has a capacity factor of over 90%.

Now we can work out what the average output of these 781MW of rooftop solar systems are…..781 x (14.7/100) = 114MW!

How did the 781MW capacity solar system that can only produce 114MW cost?

Let’s assume all the rooftop systems are 5kW so 781MW/5kW = 781,000kW/5kW = 156,000 systems.

A 5kW system currently costs around $8000 so the total cost for these systems was around $1250 million dollars (156,000 x 8000)! But consumers all received a federal government subsidy of $3000 per system (approx.) = $468 million dollars. So consumers paid $782 million and the Australian taxpayer contributed $468 million.

So $1250 million dollars was paid for a system that produces an average output of 114MW of intermittent junk electricity. The probable life of this system is 15-20 years with output decreasing every year because the ability of panels to absorb sunshine deteriorates as they age.

For $1250 million you could have bought three and a half 210MW gas plants equal to the one that AGL are now building in South Australia that have a life of 40-50 years and produce high quality reliable despatchable electricity 24/7.

So the capacity factor, the actual energy produced, by the panels is 14.7% at a vast expense.

But wait there is more: that 14.7% does not come in an even fashion, it comes in surges, just like wind power. That means for the grid to handle the panel and wind power enormous extra expense has to occur to add transformers and infrastructure to convert that surge power from the wind and panels into an even frequency. Modern grids work at a regular frequency because if homes and businesses receive variations in the frequency appliances and machinery literally blow up!

So we get 14.7% capacity factor from the panels (about the same or a bit more from wind), at enormous expense and in surges which are basically unusable in the grid without further vast expense.

The politicians responsible for this are destroying Australia. Voters who vote for people like Weatherill, Andrews and any green politician deserve everything they get which is to freeze and starve in the dark. It’s a pity the rest of us have to go down with them.
The Australian Climate Sceptics Blog

Next time, Anthony Cox might like to crunch the numbers on the capacity factor of all of the wind turbines connected to Australia’s Eastern Grid, spread from Northern NSW, across Victoria, Northern Tasmania and South Australia. They have a notional capacity of 4,675 MW, and their combined output during February is depicted above.

Across the gird, the average capacity factor for the lot is around 28%: the best is at Snowtown in SA with around 40%, the worst examples struggle to top 22%, such as Infigen’s Lake Bonney in SA’s South-East.

But talk about ‘averages’ merely flatters wind power and ignores the real and ever-present threat of a wind induced ‘system black’.

Sudden and unpredictable surges of 1,000-2,000 MW are matched by equally sudden and precipitous collapses of the same magnitude. Those collapses occur in minutes, leaving grid managers in a perpetual state of panic. For every one of those rapidly disappearing MWs, there has to be a reliable, dispatchable MW sitting somewhere in the system to prevent the entire grid from going black.

The heavy lifter in the equation is, of course, coal-fired power plants, which hold what’s called ‘spinning reserve’ (generators kept up and running at full throttle, ready to dispatch power into the grid at a second’s notice – constantly burning fuel and incurring running costs, but unable to earn revenue, constantly, as designed).

The value of such readily available electricity isn’t lost on Australia’s biggest corporate hypocrites, AGL.

For months now, AGL’s obsequious, motley-bearded hipster git has been preaching the moral ‘virtues’ of its “getting out of coal” story.

Except, around 85% of AGL’s surging profits are due to its coal-fired power generation assets. And, rather than getting out of coal, AGL clearly knows which side its bread is buttered on: it’s about to spend a couple of hundred $million refurbishing one of those assets, obviously to keep it ready for those hundreds of occasions when the wind stops caressing its groovy fleet of whirling wonders (see above).

AGL to upgrade coal-fired Bayswater power generator
The Australian
Andrew White
28 February 2018

AGL plans to spend $200m upgrading the coal-fired Bayswater electricity generator in NSW’s Hunter Valley with new turbine technology.

The four-year upgrade of the four generation units will increase the output of the plant by the equivalent of enough power to run 100,000 homes without burning extra coal and creating additional emissions.

The project will involve the replacement of four turbines, with new units capable of producing a combined extra 100MW of power.

It comes as regulators continue to search for 1000MW of new power to replace the capacity lost in recent coal power plant closures.

The project will start in February and be completed in 2022, just in time for the scheduled closure of the adjacent and much older Liddell plant, which AGL plans to replace with a mixture of renewable and storage technology after rejecting government pressure to extend its life.

It follows moves earlier this month to fix a 650 tonne generator at Loy Yang A in Victoria that is being sent to Germany for reconditioning after a fault late last year caused the unit to trip.
The Australian

Coal-fired Bayswater: AGL ain’t getting out anytime soon.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. I still think AGL is going to use Liddell as hostage for government payouts and the longer this goes on, the more amusing this becomes.

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