Worthless Wind Power: Australia’s RE Debacle Deepens With 200,000 Victorian Households Left Powerless During Heatwave

Wind ‘powered’ South Australians already know the drill…

 

In renewables obsessed Australia these days, whenever the sun sets and/or calm weather sets, the talk inevitably turns to blackouts.

Last summer, load shedding caught power consumers short in South Australia, Victoria and NSW. Energy hungry businesses such as aluminium smelters and even hospitals were forced to power down during a run of scorching days and nights, when temperatures soared and wind power output plummeted: Australia Closes Coal-Fired Power Plants: Hospitals Forced to Cut Power Use & Power Prices Rocket

Well, this Australia Day long-weekend, the barbecue stopper will be this week’s 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. If it wasn’t deadly serious, it’d almost be hilarious.

STT spelt out the truly ‘inevitable’ consequence of attempting to run on sunshine and breezes back in November – Summer Holiday-Hell: Power Consumers Face Staggering Bill Whenever Wind Power Goes AWOL

Well, you can’t say we didn’t warn you…

200,000 homes go dark as heat rises, electricity cut off
The Australian
Rachel Baxendale and Perry Williams
26 January 2019

More than 200,000 Victorian households had their power cut off yesterday in a bid to protect the state’s energy system from shutting down, as the Andrews government was forced to admit there was not enough power to keep up with soaring demand in sweltering summer heat.

Homes were blacked out, traffic lights across Melbourne were switched off and businesses were forced to close for up to two hours after the Australian Energy Market Operator enforced rolling power outages to make up a 250 megawatt shortfall in supply.

The energy regulator’s intervention, aimed at protecting the grid from a statewide shutdown, came just 90 minutes after the state’s Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said load shedding would not be necessary.

The load shedding was the most significant since January 30, 2009, a week before the Black Saturday bushfires, when almost 350,000 households and businesses were subjected to blackouts in order to shed 1000MW of demand.

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale blamed an over-reliance on coal for the heatwave and backed Ms D’Ambrosio’s calls for people to stop using their dishwashers and washing machines and to turn up the temperature on their air-conditioners.

The Victorian opposition ­accused the Andrews government of subjecting people to Third World conditions.

Senator Di Natale said Australians experiencing power outages were being unreasonable if they complained about not being able to use home appliances. “We have to (phase out coal) and, look, we talk about not using a dishwasher for a couple of hours, we’re facing an existential threat as a species,” he said. “Can you imagine the sacrifices that people made during war time? (And then) being told, well, sorry, we’re not prepared to make a sacrifice that means for two hours during the day we can’t use a dishwasher.”

AEMO blamed the failure of two generators at the Yallourn coal-fired power station and ­another at Loy Yang A, all in the Latrobe Valley, for reducing supply by 1800MW.

At 10.30am Ms D’Ambrosio urged Victorians to “do their bit” to limit power usage, but gave an assurance AEMO would not need to enforce load-shedding outages.

“Blackouts are something that will absolutely not be a feature of today, or a possibility,” she said.

“What the market operator’s done is put in place and (they have) done their proper planning to ensure that they have sufficient reserves in place to be able to meet these types of situations.”

Ninety minutes later AEMO began a series of rolling outages.

As temperatures in Melbourne peaked at 42.8C, with a state top of 47.5C in Swan Hill, ­almost 162,000 Victorian households and businesses were left without power at 2.30pm.

AEMO attributed between 60,000 and 100,000 of the outages to load shedding. The remainder were caused by localised network faults. The market operator said a total of more than 200,000 households had been subjected to the rolling outages.

The agency’s chief executive, Audrey Zibelman, blamed the heat and the failure of the Latrobe Valley coal generators, saying load shedding was common around the world.

“We can’t afford … 100 per cent reliability over all hours and all circumstances, but we do like to plan that for … these extreme weather events, that we have enough reserves available,” Ms Zibelman said.

A cool change that swept across Melbourne about 2pm dropped the temperature 12C in 30 minutes, easing demand for power and bringing an end to load-shedding outages in the ensuing hour.

Senator Di Natale blamed an over-reliance on coal for bushfires in Tasmania and the heatwave across southeastern Australia. “Coal is the reason we’re here, the reason we are seeing these record-breaking conditions we have, these massive fires in Tasmania,” the Greens leader told Sky News.

Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the load shedding showed the failure of the Andrews government’s energy policies. “We are not a Third World country. We deserve a safe and reliable power grid,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Daniel Andrews loves to boast he’s good at ‘getting things done’. Keeping the power on would be a good start.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said AEMO had done “what the market operator’s job is” in enforcing load shedding.

“I understand that any loss of power — however brief — is a worry, and that it’s something that we would all rather avoid and not see happen,” she said.

“People should be rightly disappointed that the power grid was not up to the task.”

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the Morrison government was monitoring Victoria’s energy situation and thanked AEMO for managing a difficult set of circumstances. “The conditions experienced over the last two weeks across the national electricity market reinforce the need for investment in reliable 24/7 generation and the retailer reliability obligation,” he said.

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood said it would be incorrect for anyone to adopt one of “two extreme positions” as a result of the power outages.

“The first is that this situation demonstrates that we need to build a new baseload power station and the second would be to say that this demonstrates that coal-fired power stations are unreliable. Neither is true,” Mr Wood said.
The Australian

Audrey Zibelman reckons that “load shedding is common around the world”. Indeed it is, if your reference point is Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But, Audrey, here’s the news: before Australia got sucked into the renewable energy vortex, load shedding was never common in this Country. No, it’s a very recent phenomena, all linked to our increased ‘reliance’ on the unreliables: wind and solar.

Above is the wind power output in Victoria (up there with SA as an Australian RE ‘hero’) on 25 January – for 200,000 Victorians aka ‘Black(out) Friday’ – courtesy of Aneroid Energy.

With those figures in mind (not to mention the perilous impact sunset has on solar power output) Audrey & Co are more than just a little disingenuous when they attempt to pin the blame for Victoria’s blackout on the ‘failure’ of a couple of generators within the Eastern Grid’s coal-fired generation fleet.

There is a total of 23,360 MW of coal-fired plant connected to the Eastern Grid (which excludes WA and the NT), comprising 10,240 MW in NSW, 8,390 MW in Queensland and 4,730 MW in Victoria. So, the 1,800 MW that was lost due to mechanical faults (all capable of prompt remedy) represented a piddling 7.7% reduction in the availability of coal-fired power on the Eastern Grid.

Now, to wind.

Victoria has a total wind power capacity of 1,740 MW.

For a brief while (in the early hours of the morning when demand was low) Victoria’s wind power fleet was producing almost 1,200 MW, which is around 69% of notional capacity.

For some strange reason, not a peep from Audrey & Co about there being any kind of “failure” to deliver the missing 31% of Victoria’s total wind power capacity during that impasse.

Having overlooked that pretty obvious failure, Audrey and the gang were apparently blind to what occurred during the critical hours of noon to 3pm (by 2.30pm, 200,000 Victorians were powerless).

At noon, wind power output had collapsed from 1,200 MW to 367 MW. No complaints from Audrey & her co-travellers about the disappearance of 833 MW of wind power leading up to the critical juncture.

Between noon and 3pm, Victoria’s wind power output ranged from 367 MW (ie 20% of notional capacity) and 460 MW (ie 26% of notional capacity).

Remembering that the charge directed at 1,800 MW of coal-fired power unavailable due to mechanical faults was that there was a failure to deliver as expected.

If the same reckoning was applied to wind power output, and the figures relating to Victoria’s wind power output were treated as a “failure” to deliver on demand, then there was a failure to deliver somewhere between 75% and 80% of Victoria’s (notionally) available wind power capacity, at the point when Victorians needed it most. Audrey, you’d sound a lot less like an unhinged zealot if you made mention of little facts like that, at least on occasions like this.

Angus Taylor is spot on when he talks about the “need for investment in reliable 24/7 generation” – the picture above tells the story, plain enough (for those gifted with sense and reason).

Tony Wood can’t have it both ways: if he thinks that there is no need to build new baseload power stations, just what is it that he thinks is going to compensate for the vagaries of the weather? Pixies, moonbeams, fairy dust? Or is he content to see hundreds of thousands of Australians sweltering in the dark?

This is the moment when Australia’s energy boffins and politicians need to get a serious grip on reality.

A few hundred thousand hot and furious, power-deprived Victorians just might do the trick. Here’s the Editor of The Australian with a pretty fair wrap-up of Australia’s self-inflicted power pricing and supply calamity.

Australians are entitled to cheap, reliable power
The Australian
Editorial
26 January 2019

After the nation’s power supply plunged into crisis, with electricity cut to 160,000 homes in Victoria and supplies to industry restricted, it is time to again take stock of the heavy price being paid in the name of action on climate change. A breakdown and scheduled maintenance of coal-fired generation capacity has been hailed by some as proof of the folly of building more fossil fuel generating capacity. But Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor must push ahead with plans to encourage more 24/7 baseload power.

The summer electricity crisis is exactly what engineers warned would happen as supply was hollowed out by market distortions that favoured renewables. High temperatures and low winds caused havoc as rundown generating capacity failed. Australian Energy Market Operator chief executive Audrey Zibelman said 10 companies had gone offline voluntarily to increase energy reserves, including Victoria’s biggest energy user, Alcoa. As households lost power, she noted load shedding was common practice around the world. Maybe, but Daniel Andrews owes Victorians an explanation as to why he can’t keep the lights on.

The answer, of course, is the ill- considered closure of the Hazelwood brown coal power station and the belief that renewable energy sources would be able to cope. A significant factor in this week’s failures was explained on yesterday’s front page. In South Australia, which typically relies on renewables for half its power needs, wind supplied less than 4 per cent of the state’s electricity on Thursday. Gas generators did the heavy lifting, accounting for 82 per cent, with diesel also chipping in. Victoria was in a similar position, with wind supplying 3.8 per cent of the state’s requirements as brown coal, gas and hydro were deployed to meet rising demand. Intermittency of supply from renewables must be addressed. Subsidies and priority access to market for renewables when they do produce electricity have wrecked the economics and resilience of the nation’s power.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale’s advice, that householders suffering blackouts amid mid-40s temperatures should remember rationing in times of war, beggared belief. Aside from higher prices and less reliable supply, the growing pains of forcing more renewables into a faltering electricity network are becoming more keenly felt.

As The Australian highlighted on Thursday, with close to $10 billion and 6500 megawatts worth of wind projects under construction, concerns are rising about the impact they will have on rural communities. The backlash may just be beginning but community protests in Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland and elsewhere have forced tough restrictions. With evidence of health and other impacts mounting, lawyers are sharpening their pencils for a likely flood of litigation.

All of this is relevant to the debate that has played out in these pages in recent weeks after scientist Ian Plimer called out as fake the claim that 97 per cent of scientists believed humans were responsible for climate change. That figure, he said, derived from a group of “77 self-appointed climate ‘scientists’ of whom 75 were judged to agree that human-induced warming was taking place”. That alleged consensus, Plimer argued, had changed our electricity from cheap and reliable to expensive and unreliable. In response, Royal Society of Queensland president Geoff Edwards chose not to defend the claimed consensus, which has always been dodgy, first for the methodology outlined by Plimer but more significantly in that good science has never relied on a show of hands. Instead, Edwards chose an insurance analogy and claimed that action was worthwhile whether or not the dire climate warnings proved to be prescient. Like most climate change prescriptions, however, Edwards’s argument was short on detail on what the insurance “policy” would cost. Higher electricity prices and less reliable power are big problems. As citizens of an energy superpower with abundant resources, Australians are right to demand cheap and reliable electricity. As politicians rush to combat climate change, proper cost-benefit analyses must be the foundation for all decisions.
The Australian

Dan, Dan he’s our man, if he can’t wreck it, Lily can.

 

A helpful roundup from The Australian there. However, STT needs to notice a little fake news that’s been slipped into the narrative. When The Australian refers to “6500 megawatts worth of wind projects under construction”, it’s based on a pretty sloppy definition of “under construction”.

At present, there is 5,661 MW of wind power capacity on the Eastern Grid, which took the best part of 15 years to build. 6,500 MW is the same again plus another thousand.

In truth, there are a couple of small projects being constructed in SA and a couple of larger ones in Victoria, one in QLD and a couple in NSW. When we say “constructed” we mean pouring concrete into steel reinforced bases, at a minimum, with towers to follow.

Wind power outfits are claiming that they have their projects ‘under construction’, for a number of reasons.

The first is that they need to maintain their planning permits, by demonstrating that there has been ‘substantial commencement’. No substantial commencement, and their planning permits will lapse.

Another reason is that they may well have signed Power Purchase Agreements with a retailer. Again, to maintain those agreements there will be terms setting deadlines of performance that require project commencement and completion by specified dates. A failure to claim commencement, may result in the retailer lawfully terminating the PPA. No PPA means that the entire project will collapse. With a collapse in the future price of RECs, there is no way that a wind project will proceed without a PPA: the PPA price is based on the presumed value of the REC.

There is also the wind power outfit’s relationship with the Clean Energy Regulator, where it will have already registered to receive Renewable Energy Certificates as an ‘eligible renewable energy generator’. Claiming that their projects are underway, enables them to maintain their registration.

What’s really going on – and it’s a game that has been played before to maintain planning permits – is that the wind power outfit claims that a project is under construction by simply throwing a few tonnes of gravel in the corner of a paddock, putting up a chain wire fence around it (the area might be referred to as a loading yard or landing pad for turbine components) and then convincing the planning authorities (among others) that their project has been substantially commenced.

Given the chaos that’s broken out in Victoria (and there was similar chaos the day before in SA, which STT will cover in our next post), the prospects of there being a further 6,500 MW of chaotically delivered wind power added to the grid is looking slim.

Because, if that magnitude of capacity was added, then a few hot days like those experienced last week will inevitably plunge the entire Eastern Grid into Stone Age darkness.

Welcome to your wind powered future!

Audrey Zibelman, still struggling to get a grip on reality.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. It seems to me, a Scots expatriate now a US citizen in Virginia, that for Australia to continue mining coal while imagining that wind and solar power contributes any “cleanliness” to their atmosphere, is hypocrisy or pig-ignorance, if not both.
    It also seems hypocritical to export uranium while not using it for your own civilian power, presumably because of an opinion that reactors are evil.

  2. That’s nothing!
    Here in the UK, where we too are run by a collection of green chancers and inumerate wordsmiths (laywers), todays news is a proposal to fill 19,000 football pitches with windmills. They will, of course, be spread out along a future railway line called HS2 that nobody wants.
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/26/wind-farms-could-built-along-route-hs2-confidential-government/
    I was going to say ‘beat that’ but it appears you have done!

  3. Anthony Gardner says:

    You write:

    Wind power outfits are claiming that they have their projects ‘under construction’, for a number of reasons.

    The first is that they need to maintain their planning permits, by demonstrating that there has been ‘substantial commencement’. No substantial commencement, and their planning permits will lapse.

    In NSW, the qualifier “substantial” was dropped some years ago. All they now have to claim is that “works” have physically commenced on the site to which the approval has been given.

    So now you have number of wind farms that have approvals in perpetuity by claiming that they have commenced “works”.
    The worst part is that the NSW Department of Planning has enthusiastically approved these sham claims and their Minister, in recent correspondence, supports them.

    For instance, for the Capital 2 wind farm, Infigen recently regraded a few kilometers of internal access track leading to the Capital 1 wind farm. Bingo – Capital 2 wind farm now has approval in perpetuity.

    The approval for the Kyoto Energy Park was due to lapse on January 31, 2015.

    A few days before this, the proponent advised that work had nearly finished on the new access to the site (not, as required, by work on the site, but on access to the site). Nevertheless the Department of Planning approved the wind farm forever.

    The approval for the Glen Innes wind farm was due to lapse on January 31, 2017. On January 28, 2017, the proponent convinced the department that it had done some “geo-technical” works and was therefore entitled to approval forever. The department agreed.

    The approval for Conroy’s Gap wind farm was due to lapse May 31, 2012 unless the developer did one of a number of optional actions, one of which was to order the turbines On May 30, 2012, the developer, Epuron, flashed some purported order and the Department fell for it and approved the wind farm in perpetuity. Of course, the turbines have never arrived.

    Needless to say, not a sod has been turned on any of these four wind farms. What a surprise.

    Should STT require the detailed research, they can contact me through my colleague, Dr Michael Crawford.

    • Thanks for the insight.

      We would be grateful if you could give our followers a round up of of the projects in NSW that are truly ‘under construction’ and their claimed nameplate capacities.

      • Anthony Gardner says:

        The case can be made that there are no wind farms currently under construction in NSW.

        Here are the details of NSW wind farms that are approved but not yet supplying power to the grid. As you can see, all bar Crudine Ridge have not commenced construction. In NSW, number of turbines and maximum height are nominated in Conditions of Consent. Rated capacity is not, so will vary as turbines get larger as construction approaches.

        Bango, 240 MW, No committed construction start date.
        Biala, 110 MW, 2019 construction start?
        Capital 2, 100 MW, No committed construction start date.
        Collector, 214 MW, No committed construction start date. (approval was due to expire December 2, 2018, so I expect a flurry of late activity, maybe even another sham extension of approval)
        Conroy’s Gap, 30 MW, No committed construction start date.
        Crudine Ridge, 135 MW. Construction commenced in 2018 but was stopped by the Department of Planning due to a breach of consent conditions. Please see:
        https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/News/2018/Work-Stops-at-the-Crudine-Ridge-Wind-Farm
        It will be some months before construction recommences.
        Flyers Creek, 145 MW, No committed construction start date, although the Infigen annual report lists this wind farm as next in line for construction.
        Glen Innes, 90 MW, No committed construction start date.
        Kyoto, 110 MW, No committed construction start date.
        Liverpool Range, 1000 MW, No committed construction start date.
        Rye Park, 327 MW, No committed construction start date.
        Yass Valley (Coppabella) 280 MW, 2019 construction start?

        Conroy’s Gap, Kyoto and probably Glen Innes should have their approvals revoked but the Department is most reluctant to take them off the Powerpoint slide. My colleagues at Conroy’s Gap have had their properties encumbered for nearly 12 years since approval (May 31, 2007) not helped by a sham decision from the Department as noted in my comment above.

      • Thanks for the update.

    • Is the current energy policy insanity we currently see in NSW any surprise when the Liberal Party doing its best to imitate the very worst idiocy of the loony, Green/Left of the Labor Party on energy policy?

      Energy minister Don Harwin, a faithful disciple of renewables lobbyist and Liberal Party factional head-kicker Michael Photios, doing his best to drag the NSW power system back to third the world.  Harwin apparently believes “the era of baseload coal is coming to an end, fossil fuel plants are not a guarantee of reliability, wind and solar offer the cheapest forms of new generation".  Good luck with that one Don, I think your chickens are about to come home to roost.

      Just a few years ago we had another NSW Liberal energy minister, Rob Stokes, predicting "When it comes to clean energy, we [NSW] can be Australia’s answer to California".  Unfortunately Harwin and Stokes have plenty of Liberal Party mates when it comes to their dalliance with the loony Green/Left.

  4. Peter K Wakamatsu says:

    GREAT NEWS!!!! I hope that there are more power blackouts and people die. Lots of people, for it is obvious that nothing will change anything in Australia until LOTS OF PEOPLE DIE AND SUFFER.

    The faster that this slow motion train wreck truly wrecks the better. Right now there are no consequences to this brain dead idea of global warming. The green idiots have the high ground until their opponents throw them off the mountain.

  5. The Australians should get their YELLOW VESTS on and start protesting at this lunacy.

  6. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  7. It’s all working out well with lawyers running the Electricity generating and distribution systems across the country. With not an Electrical Engineer in sight and retards like Ms D’Ambrosio making the decisions who can see any problems in the future with 100% renewables backed up with Diesel and Gas turbine Generation costing around $15000 per MWh or for the average Australian with an intellectual disability $15 per KWh or even more simply $1.50 to toast two pieces of bread that costs $2.00 a slice. Who could even attempt to describe the Green where’s Wally impersonator’s loony mutterings. To think they actually pay people to write comedy scripts when all you have to do is pay a couple of dollars for an Australian Newspaper.

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