Dog-Ate-My-Homework ‘Defence’: Wind Industry Blames Poor ‘Performance’ on the Weather

As Australia’s Energy Minister’s gathered for a panicked attempt to keep the subsidised renewable energy scam rolling for just that bit longer, the Wind Gods conspired to deflate their pumped-up rhetoric about Australia’s ‘inevitable transition’ to nature’s wonder fuels: sunshine and breezes.

What’s depicted above, courtesy of Aneroid Energy, is the output from every wind turbine (with a notional ‘capacity’ of 4,675 MW) spread across four states and connected to the Eastern Grid on 18 April.

Here’s Terry McCrann taking the wind out of the wind cult’s sails (with a little more help from STT and Aneroid Energy).

Wind turbines delivering next nothing to grid despite hysteria
Herald Sun
Terry McCrann
19 April 2018

Are we completely insane? Well, almost our entire political class and the overwhelming majority of — self-believing — “clever people” seemingly certainly are.

As I write this Wednesday evening, all those wonderful “clean” wind turbines across Victoria and South Australia are pumping out all of 30MW of electricity.

They are supposed to have the capacity to produce more than 3400MW — that’s 1½ Hazelwoods. They were operating at less than 1 per cent of capacity.

How many times do you have to say and write “when the wind don’t blow (and the sun don’t shine) the power don’t flow” to break through the thick skulls of “clever people” from PMs and premiers, through company chairman and CEOs being paid salaries in the millions and all the way down to academics and media idiots?

Oh wait, sorry; all those turbines across SA and Victoria have now kicked up to producing 74MW. That’s a much more impressive 2 per cent of capacity.

Supply — more accurately, non supply — of electricity is one aspect of the insanity. The other is price. The wholesale price in SA was running at over $130 a MW hour. Victorians were doing a little better at around $108 a MW hour.

As the wind picked up, the SA price plummeted to $126 a MWh and Victoria’s to $106.

In the “bad old days” — all the way back to around 2000 — when we had wicked old, coal-fired power stations chugging away reliably pumping out electricity, irrespective of wind and sun, we paid $20-$30 a MWh, day in and day out.

It was so terribly boring — there’s so much more excitement, indeed real frisson, when prices can change by as much as that in a matter of minutes, as the wind chooses to blow or not.

And of course back then Gaia was crying tears of blood.

Never mind, as the AFR’s renewables (and Tesla) fanboy Ben Potter breathlessly informed us this week, a mammoth 9691 megawatts of new wind and solar capacity would be added to the national energy market by the early 2020s.

One can assume that Potter is as mathematically challenged as energy minister Josh Frydenberg; that like most of our 2018 “clever people” they’ve never had explained to them that any number multiplying zero still gives you zero.

We now have 3400MW of installed — OK, I’ll go along with the joke and call it — “capacity” — wind in Victoria and SA. As I wrote, that was producing all of 30MW, according to the market operator AEMO.

You can add that mammoth 9691MW, but if the wind is blowing as the same gentle zephyr, you’ll kick the relative output up to all of 115 MW.

Pity, that Victoria and SA alone need around 7500MW pretty much every hour, all day. Although, true, presumably the two states will need less by the early 2020s as more and more factories are shuttered as a consequence of crippling power prices.

To emphasise for Josh and Ben and all the others “clever people”/idiots: if you’ve got 3400MW of wind “capacity” and the wind don’t blow you will get zero or close to zero electricity.

You can have 13,000 MW of wind “capacity” and if the wind don’t blow you will still get zero or close to zero electricity.
Herald Sun

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s data dashboard
as of 4pm on Thursday, April 19, 2018.


If Terry McCrann felt disappointed about the performance of Australia’s whirling wonders on 18 April, he would have been equally dejected, the following day. On the AEMO Data Dashboard, wind output barely registers in those wind ‘superpowers’, SA and Victoria, clocks a trifling 4 MW in Tasmania and a piddling 148 MW in NSW at 4 PM on 19 April. Here’s the collective effort, across all four states on 19 April:

Remember all the guff we were sold about the ‘wind is always blowing somewhere’? No? That’s because the ‘performance’ depicted above was being delivered by hundreds of turbines spread over thousands of miles:

From Jamestown in the Mid-North, west to Cathedral Rocks on lower Eyre Peninsula and south to Millicent in South Australia; down to Cape Portland (Musselroe) and Woolnorth (Cape Grim) in Tasmania; all over Victoria; and right up to Cullerin on the New South Wales Tablelands.

Those wind farms have hundreds of these things spread out over a geographical expanse of 632,755 km². That’s an area which is 2.75 times the combined area of England (130,395 km²) Scotland (78,387 km²) and Wales (20,761 km²) of 229,543 km².

If you’re being told that adding more turbines and spreading them far and wide is some kind of panacea, you know you’re being conned.

Indeed, it seems Australia’s major wind power outfits were somehow duped into believing that the wind would blow – as if by divine provenance – to permanently inflate their balance sheets. True, as they tell us, the wind is ‘free’; but, as any overly thrifty shopper knows, you get what you pay for.

Claimed wind farm generation figures fall well short of actuals
The Australian
Sid Maher
18 April 2018

Unfavourable winds appear to have clipped the wings of the wind farms in the national electricity market, with their actual power production coming in about 11 per cent below their claimed production capacity in the year to July 2017.

Only four wind farms connected to the NEM that services Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia exceeded their claimed capacity in 2016-17.

Production figures released by the Clean Energy Regulator show AGL’s Macarthur Wind Farm in Victoria produced 894,077 MWh compared with a claimed capacity of 1.29 million MWh for the financial year.

AGL’s Oaklands Hill Wind Farm, also in Victoria, produced 170,182 MWh compared with a claimed capacity of 205,422MWh, a shortfall of 35,240MWh, while its Wattle Point Wind Farm in South Australia produced 233,053MWh compared with a claimed capacity of 360,000MWh, a shortfall of 126,947 MWh in the period.

“Performance in FY2017 was primarily affected by planned outages at Macarthur, and unfavourable wind for all farms,’’ AGL said.

The shortfall in generation by wind farms comes amid Greens attacks on the reliability of coal-fired generation. Late last year, Greens climate change spokesman Adam Bandt branded coal “unreliable’’ and said coal-fired stations struggled in the heat.

Research by the Australian Energy Council said coal-fired power stations had the highest capacity factor in all states except Tasmania and the Northern Territory, where the primary generation was from hydro and gas-fired plants.

The capacity factor of a power station is the electricity produced represented as a percentage of the theoretical maximum a plant could produce if it ran at maximum output 24 hours a day for a full year.

The Australian Energy Council research, published in November, showed the capacity factor of coal ranged from 56 per cent in Western Australia to 81 per cent in Victoria in the 2015-16 year. The capacity factor of wind farms ranged from 30 per cent in Victoria to 37 per cent in Tasmania.
The Australian

Sid Maher’s claimed capacity factors for wind power are well over the top.

The worst performers in SA belong to Infigen at Lake Bonney in the South-East and struggle to manage 25%. SA’s best ‘performer’ is Trustpower’s Snowtown operation, which hovers close to 40%. The average across the Eastern Grid, is around 28%.

And we’re pretty sure that Sid confuses utilisation rates with capacity factors, when he starts talking about coal-fired plant in WA at 56%. STT suspects that that number is about actual dispatch periods, rather than the online availability of the (unidentified) plant in question.

But, as usual, Sid Maher completely misses the point: it’s the operator of a coal-fired power plant who dictates when, and how much, power is sent to the grid (and onwards to power consumers). Whereas, the operators of wind turbines dictate  … Well, OK, they don’t dictate anything, now do they?

Expecting to profit from the wind? Results can vary…

About stopthesethings

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


  1. william gray says:

    It’s a pity more pollies don’t actually drive past Lake George when they leave ACT because if they did they would see for themselves the unbelievable stupidity in believing wind is any sort of power ‘source’ at all. Day after day, week after week, and month after month the turbines have hardly turned at all -dead still, even right now. I expect Infigen will try and explain away the apalling result (for them) with the usual corporate doublespeak-but only for so long boys, only for so long. Meantime back at the ranch life is for once, peaceful and enjoyable. May it last.

  2. Terry Conn says:

    Well, our dumbest politicians think the NEG will fix this situation- yes, provided that we pay for a complete second system to cover electricity demand 24/7 when the wind don’t blow – if we think electricity prices are high now imagine what they will be if the NEG is made to work. Thousands more wind turbines have to be erected at our cost to meet the NEG target of 28- 36% of renewable energy and subsidise them to the tune of $93 mgwhr, in addition we will have to pay for snowy 2 ( which will not work) plus heaps of open cycle gas turbines ( which are jet engines on steroids) despite the fact no gas can be mined, so we can build nuclear power plants except they are illegal, plus no more coal fired generators because they are politically incorrect and so we have a COAG meeting that has postponed further discussion so that the ACT can assert itself (all 350,000 of them) – meanwhile the Monash group seems to have gone to water – good permanent night Australia and may your god be with you.

  3. Son of a goat says:

    Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair,
    Said Simple Simon to the pieman
    “What have you got there?”
    Said the pieman unto Simon
    Pies you dickhead.

  4. Terry McCrann’s figures are a little off! Terry ol’ mate! It was actually worse than you suspected! Actual installed ‘capacity’, is actually 4917 Mw’s! That’s a lot more than the 3400 you quoted, and makes for the article more poignant!
    And the best weekend ever for wind, the previous weekend, the whirling behemoths managed a pretty credible 70% of installed capacity! Wow! Amazing! Just an absolute pity that its not ‘on tap’!
    One thought that occurred to me recently was this; who, in their right mind, would want to live in a place, where these whirlygigs could pump out a credible power supply? Certainly ain’t I!

    • Terry was referring to SA and Victoria, with his figure of 3400 MW, which is accurate, the number is 3360. Aneroid doubles up on the Arrarat WF, counting 242 MW twice, the total connected to the Eastern Grid is 4675, excluding that figure. Your figure of 4917, may include WA? Which is not connected to the Eastern Grid.

      • Ah! Thanks for the clarification. I was going on the total grid connected wind power, as reported by Aneroid. Wasn’t aware that Ararat was counted twice! Aneroid does not include any power from WA. Anyway, no biggie! Good report on the total power usage from TonyfromOz, over at PAPundits. Very good anaylsis of all power sources for the grid.

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