Renewable Energy ‘Transition’: More Wind Power, Higher Prices, More Blackouts

The chaos that comes with intermittent wind and solar get serious in summer, when demand surges, the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in.

This summer, the barbecue stopper will literally be another round of what’s euphemistically called “demand management”: Soviet era power rationing, an integral part of Australia’s ludicrous attempt to run on sunshine and breezes.

And it won’t just be wind and solar ‘blessed’ South Australians having their demand ‘managed’, the wind and solar obsession that’s consumed Victoria and NSW means that Victorians and the New South Welshmen are guaranteed to enjoy the same fate. For those without portable generators, there will be plenty of opportunities for cold baked beans, in the dark.

Now, as romantic as that sounds, mass load shedding has its deadly serious side (try cracking jokes about power failures with someone living at home on life support).

STT made the point a week or so back – Summer Holiday-Hell: Power Consumers Face Staggering Bill Whenever Wind Power Goes AWOL – here’s Rafe Champion tackling the same topic.

Rafe picks up on the AEMO’s latest blackout warnings (extracted below) to explain why blackouts this Australian summer are a certainty.

More Wind Power, Higher Prices, More Blackouts
Rafe Champion
YouTube
22 November 2018

Hello, my name is Rafe Champion, and I’m here to tell you a tragic tale about the peaks in demand for power, and the troughs in supply of wind. The point of this is to explain why, as we keep putting more wind power into the system, your power bills are going to increase, and there’s more risk that your lights will go out. This will be the case until we have massive storage capacity to save electric power when the wind is high to use when the wind is low. We don’t have that technology at present, and we won’t have it for some time. Just ask Bill Gates.

Now, you may not have time to spend 10 minutes listening to the whole of the story, but I want to just leave you with this thought. Imagine a situation in the high summer, in the evening, when demand is high at the peak, and we have a low period of wind. Put together, the maximum demand and the minimum supply of wind, and see what happens. Watch Victoria this summer.

So now, to talk about peaks and troughs, and this will explain why our bills will get higher and we’ll get more blackouts. Southeast Australia now has a unified power system. It was not always like that. We used to have separate power supplies in each state, and we had some of the world’s cheapest power. Times have changed. We no longer have the world’s cheapest power and we have four agencies set up, including Australian Energy Market Operator, to manage this complex system.

Let’s consider the demand for power. The demand is measured in gigawatts. The maximum demand, as I mentioned, is likely to be around 28 gigawatts. Your power bill is measured in kilowatts. Your electric jug draws about 1800 watts or 1.8 kilowatts to boil, and the electric light draws about 60 watts per second. Now, let’s look at the way the demand fluctuates through the day, and this display will indicate that it’s lowest in the middle of the night, not surprisingly, rises to breakfast time, and it rises to the peak in the evening when everybody’s cooking their dinner. The highest peak in the summertime, at dinner time, with all the air conditioners running, gets towards 28 gigawatts.

Now consider supply. This comes from four sources, and you can see from this display when these sources are in different colours. A foundation of supply is the hydrocarbons, black and brown, coal and gas. Then we have hydro, that’s blue for water. That’s water running down hill from dams. Then we have, in green, we have the wind. That fluctuates quite a lot, well, can’t see so much fluctuation in this particular 24 hour period, and then on top of that, there’s the solar, and that, of course, is there in the day and not there at night. The solar actually comes from rooftop panels and from solar farms, which can extend for many hectares.

Now consider the reliable supply. Reliable supply comes from the hydrocarbons and from the hydro. These reliable suppliers can provide most of the demand most of the time, because most of the time is well short of 28 gigawatts. But as we approach higher levels of demand, we have load shedding and we have blackouts. As the demand approaches the limit of supply, it has to be managed, or it may not be managed. In other words, we get managed load shedding and unmanaged load shedding, which is blackouts.

Managed load shedding is when the market operator contacts the higher power users and instructs them to cut back their use. They have to be financially compensated for that, and whatever they’re paid ends up in our power bills. If the load shedding is too little and too late, the lights go out. This happened in South Australia for three days in 2016.

Now the crunch is coming. The market operator has warned that there’s a serious risk of a crisis in power supply in Victoria come this summer. You might say, providing can we avoid the crunch by providing more wind power and more solar power?

Well, at present we have something like five gigawatts of wind power installed, and there’s 15 or 20 gigawatts on the way, so if you think that we add 25 gigawatts to our current supplies of reliable power, you may feel very comfortable. But now we’ve come to the whole point of this story about troughs and supply.

Looking at the display here, you can see that there are a great many days where the wind is very low, and we have data to indicate that in a particular year studied, for one day that year the combined the wind farms of southeast Australia only provided 2.7% of their installed capacity. Twenty nine days of that year, they provided less than 10% of their installed capacity.

Let’s be generous and allow 5% – do a calculation. Calculate 5% of 25 gigawatts and see what you get. You get 1.25 gigawatts. Now consider a day of heat wave in summer, dinner time in the heat wave. Everybody’s cooking. Everybody’s got their air conditioners going full bore. The sun has gone down. The reliable supplier, they’re cranking out 24-26 gigawatts, the wind, at this low point, contributes 1.25.

So you can see the point of the warning from the market operator. Come summer, there will be desperate load shedding and other desperate strategies to maintain the supply of power and keep on the lights.

That might keep the lights on, but what about the cost? Under these circumstances, the cost has to increase. “But,” you say. “The cost of this solar and wind power is getting cheaper.” Well, in the real world, they’re not getting cheaper, because you have to consider the subsidies and the cost of the poles and wires, hundreds of kilometres of poles and wires.

On top of that, we are going to have dual power systems. We’re going to have two power systems together. Someone explain how we get cheaper power when we have two power systems rather than one? And we can’t dispense with the old reliable power system until we have that gigantic storage capacity. So we’re stuck with two power systems for the foreseeable future, but of course the whole point of this is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. There’s a problem there. As long as we have to keep the old providers, they old coal power stations, they have to maintain what we call a spinning reserve in the background to be available when there’s not enough wind and sun. The end result of this is minimal reduction in emissions in the foreseeable future.

You could say that we’re on the German road. The German road with the energy transition to green power. They put in 20,000 wind turbines. They doubled their cost of power. They brought their grid to the point of collapse, and the killer, they haven’t reduced their emissions since 2009. Sad to say, that’s a trifecta of failure, power price up, grid stability down, and emissions, no change. Do we think we can do better, really? Can we do better than the Germans? Can we do better than their trifecta of failure?

So coming to the punchline of the story, we cannot afford to lose a single coal fired power station for the foreseeable future until we have the mass storage. Allow a decade or three for that. So get in touch with your sitting member of parliament. Contact all the contenders for the next election and ask them politely but firmly whether they’re aware of the problem with peak demand and the troughs of wind supply, ask them what they intend to do about that, what they intend to do to bring down the price of power, what they intend to do to keep the lights on, and what they intend to do going forward to avoid a German trifecta.

So beyond all that, keep smiling. It’s very good. It relaxes your face, it relaxes your mind. It’s a form of stress release, control. And believe me, when the lights go out, you’re going to need stress control. Just ask the South Australians.
YouTube

The AEMO released its Summer readiness plan highlighting resource availability as a concern,  this extract from the Executive summary:

Resource availability.

  • Extreme conditions can impact the adequacy and the availability of resources when they are needed for the power system to meet demand.
  • In the 2018 Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO), AEMO’s modelling forecast risks this summer for Victoria (and South Australia, due to its level of connection with Victoria) of unserved energy during some peak conditions unless additional reserve resources were procured.
  • There is a particular risk of the reliability standard (which requires a maximum of 0.002% of unserved energy in a year in any NEM region) not being met in Victoria under some peak demand conditions. This risk is more acute given approximately 250 megawatts (MW) of thermal generation has been identified in the Medium Term Projected Assessment of System Adequacy (MT PASA) as unavailable in Victoria/South Australia during summer. AEMO is working with the owners of this generation to
    understand its availability during peak demand conditions.
  • As part of its reserve management strategy and to manage supply shortfalls, AEMO has identified additional reserves which can be made available through the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) function. This reserve is used only if the market does not respond with enough supply or demand resources to ensure the reliability standard is met, for example at times of very high periods of electricity demand, or to manage power system incidents. These reserves are expected to close the risk of not meeting the reliability standard, identified in the 2018 ESOO.

AEMO

So, who’s up for cold baked beans in the dark?

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    The chaos that comes with intermittent wind and solar get serious in summer, when demand surges, the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in.

    This summer, the barbecue stopper will literally be another round of what’s euphemistically called “demand management”: Soviet era power rationing, an integral part of Australia’s ludicrous attempt to run on sunshine and breezes.

    And it won’t just be wind and solar ‘blessed’ South Australians having their demand ‘managed’, the wind and solar obsession that’s consumed Victoria and NSW means that Victorians and the New South Welshmen are guaranteed to enjoy the same fate. For those without portable generators, there will be plenty of opportunities for cold baked beans, in the dark.

    Now, as romantic as that sounds, mass load shedding has its deadly serious side (try cracking jokes about power failures with someone living at home on life support).

    STT made the point a week or so back – Summer Holiday-Hell: Power Consumers Face Staggering Bill Whenever Wind Power Goes AWOL – here’s Rafe Champion tackling the same topic.

    Rafe picks up on the AEMO’s latest blackout warnings (extracted below) to explain why blackouts this Australian summer are a certainty.

  2. And the last 4 or 5 months the days and more so unusualy the nights have been as windy as l can ever remember so those wind farm numbers are as good as its going to get ..

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