Summer Holiday-Hell: Power Consumers Face Staggering Bill Whenever Wind Power Goes AWOL

When RE zealots talk about the ‘transition’ to wind and solar, they never specify when. They say it’s ‘inevitable’, but always kick the can down the road when pressed about precisely when we’ll all be powered by nothing but sunshine and breezes. Perhaps it’s got something to do with sunset? Or maybe even the weather?

Whatever the cause, whenever the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in these days, the talk turns to blackouts.

With a blistering summer predicted, demand for electricity will rocket as Australian householders and businesses try to keep their cool. Thanks to their obsession with wind and solar, mass load shedding (aka “demand management”) – controlled blackouts – and blackouts with less design involved, are guaranteed across South Australia and Victoria. The ultimate cost to South Australian and Victorian power consumers – those lucky enough to have it delivered, that is – will be thoroughly staggering.

Victorian, SA users to pay more for summer energy
The Australian
Andrew White
16 November 2018

Homes and businesses in South Australia and Victoria face a second summer of paying generators for reserve electricity and for users to dial down or switch off the power as the market operator seeks insurance against blackouts and bushfires.

The demand for reserves has been increased this season by the loss of 240 megawatts of thermal generation that its owners have told the market operator will not be available to meet short-term spikes in demand or the loss of generation elsewhere in the National Electric­ity Market.

The Australian Energy Market Operator is seeking up to 930MW of reserve power to reinforce the NEM during what is expected to be a hotter, drier summer and an earlier bushfire season.

But consumers will be asked to carry the cost, with similar measures last year adding $6 to the average electricity bill in SA and Victoria to cover the cost of strategic reserves, including recalling mothballed gas-generation plants in Tasmania, Queensland and SA, diesel generators, and “demand response measures” that pay users to switch off their power.

AEMO had to use the reserve measures twice last summer — on November 30 and January 19 — at a cost of $52 million.

The moves come despite 2100MW of new generation capacity being added into the system this year, including rooftop and commercial solar, wind farms and big batteries in SA and Victoria.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the moves by AEMO underlined the need for reliability obligation that the federal government wants to impose on new generation plants and measures to under­write investment in new “firmed” generation.

“The levels of intermittent government-backed generation in South Australia and Victoria that has not been firmed has led to a real risk over summer,” Mr Taylor said. “AEMO has been forced to step in and mitigate the risk created by poor state Labor government planning.”

AEMO will seek to enter into a minimum of 405MW of short- and medium-term notice agreements in Victoria and South Australia with a panel of providers under its Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader powers, which allow rapid contracting to meet unexpected risks.

AEMO managing director Audrey Zibelman said the Bureau of Meteorology was forecasting a hotter and drier summer that, coupled with other risks, made for challenging conditions.

She said a similar amount of resources to last year was needed this summer but the cost was expected to be lower because of the types of reserves being sought and the way they were being bought.

The reserve needs would have been lower, but for 120MW of capacity across Victoria and SA that AEMO was forced to seek after being told last month that a 240MW thermal generation plant would not be available to meet short-term demands.

AEMO said there was already a risk in supply in Victoria this summer and it was “more acute” now that 240MW of generation would not be available. AEMO declined to name the generator.
The Australian

Andrew White never ceases to disappoint, unless you’re looking for an example of what it takes to be truly obtuse. Despite claiming to be The Australian’s in-house energy expert, White has never had a harsh word to say about chaotically intermittent and massively subsidised wind and solar, and what he does have to say sounds more like a marketing pitch for his mates at Infigen, than journalism. [Note to Ed: another case of follow the money?]

White seems to be struggling with the idea that there should be any kind of generation capacity shortfall – given that there’s been:

“2100MW of new generation capacity being added into the system this year, including rooftop and commercial solar, wind farms and big batteries in SA and Victoria.”

Gee whizz Andrew, who’d have thought that all that wonderful new wind and solar generating capacity might still leave power consumers scrambling for reliable electricity, when they need it most?

Well, probably any sentient being with a brain larger than the size of a peanut.

Here’s the news Andrew: sunset is a thing; calm weather is a thing. And when either or both combine, that 2,100MW of new capacity that Andrew can’t stop fawning over – indeed every single MW of wind and solar capacity, for that matter – is producing precisely nothing.

A five-year-old can draw a pretty good picture of a sunset, so we’ll leave that – and the effect of that daily occurrence on solar power output – to our reader’s imaginations.

But we’ll hand over to Aneroid Energy to draw a picture of calm weather – as represented by the combined output of every wind turbine connected to the Eastern Grid with a combined capacity of just over 5,000MW – situated in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia – during January (see above) and February (last graphic below).

Andrew White wants to focus on the disaster brewing in South Australia and Victoria this summer, so we’ll do the same, with a look at the combined output of every wind turbine in South Australia and Victoria last summer.

South Australia and Victoria are connected through two interconnectors (Murraylink and Heywood) which, combined, can notionally carry around 900MW in either direction so, the argument goes, they can share their wonderful windwatts and bask in that virtuous glow together (when the wind’s blowing, of course).

Andrew White seems perplexed about the failure of that additional 2,100MW of wind and solar to add anything of value, and overly worried about a meagre 240MW of thermal generation that won’t be available, in the short-term.

SA’s turbines have a notional capacity of 1,929MW, and Victoria’s have 1,740MW – bringing the grand total to 3,669 MW across both states. Notwithstanding all that wonderful capacity, their combined output is often completely trivial, with sudden and precipitous 1,000-2,000MW collapses in the space of minutes – multiples worse than the mere 240MW of temporarily unavailable thermal generation that’s troubling Andrew – capacity that is most likely unavailable because it’s up for major repairs and maintenance and which will be back online in the not-too-distant future.

As you read on, note that 300MW amounts to 8.2% of combined notional wind power capacity across SA and Victoria; 200MW amounts to 5.4% and 100MW amounts to 2.7%. And zero amounts to, well…


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