Loser Pays: Making Wind & Solar Pay the Staggering Cost of their Chaotic Intermittency

All care and no responsibility, the wind and solar ‘industries’ have been allowed to destroy the grid and the power market without consequence. At least on their part; at least for now.

The retailer reliability obligation put in place by Federal Energy Minister, Angus Taylor (which was the only part of the National Energy Guarantee worth keeping) has gutted the profitability of wind and solar outfits.

Previously, they could dispatch at will, thanks to the subsidies they enjoy (the Renewable Energy Certificate allows them to undercut conventional generators); and suffer no consequences at all, when the sun set or calm weather sets in. Not anymore. The background to the retailer reliability obligation is laid out here: PM’s Reliable Power Play Spells Disaster for Unreliable & Intermittent Wind Power

What The Australian’s Terry McCrann describes below is not that far from how the retailer reliability obligation is designed to work, in practice.

The idea being that the true cost of wind and solar’s chaotic intermittency be sheeted home to wind and solar outfits, instead of being suffered by conventional power generators and the broader power market. Here’s Terry.

The one rule that would expose wind power’s true cost
The Australian
Terry McCrann
17 August 2019

There is one very simple but absolutely fundamental obligation that should be required from anyone wanting to supply power into the eastern states electricity grid. As far as I can judge, it’s never been broached before, and certainly not at the level of any serious policy discussion.

If adopted, it would immediately reveal the true — and permanently astronomic — cost of wind and solar as sources of power generation.

It would expose the essential and incurable uselessness of so-called renewables: the very reason we stopped using them, progressively from the Stone Age on and then totally in developed nations in the 19th century when real sources of power and energy from coal, gas and oil became technologically and broadly available.

The obligation is this: if you wish to sell power into the grid, the NEM or National Energy Market, you will have to guarantee a minimum level of supply and guarantee that minimum level of supply 24/7.

And critically, that minimum level can be no lower than 80 per cent of the maximum amount of energy you will be permitted to sell into the grid.

This will instantly eliminate the parasitic way that especially wind is allowed to freeload on the grid. Let me explain how this would work.

You propose to build a 1000MW wind farm. That’s what it will produce when the wind does blow.

You would have a choice. You want to sell 1000MW into the grid, you will have to guarantee you will supply at least 800MW all the time. That’s to say, 24/7 through the year.

So when the wind don’t blow, you are going to have to either be able to instantly buy 800MW from someone who has real power generation like gas — I don’t see how coal could work for you as it could not be instantly fired up.

And be able to buy that generation for as long as you need it. For, to stress the point, as long as the wind don’t blow.

In the simplest example, you would have to build an (at least) 800MW gas power station next to your wind farm, which you would only use intermittently, on the whim of the weather. Suddenly, wind would not look so cheap; it would be exposed as certainly not being “free”.

Critically, you would not be allowed to sell up to that 1800MW into the grid, using both the gas and the wind turbines when the wind did blow.

Now, in a rational, pre-Global Warming Insane, world this would pose the obvious question. Why would I build two so-called power stations, the real gas one and the fake wind one? Why wouldn’t I just build the one, the gas one?

Ur, yes. But in a really rational world you’d just build the one coal-fired station, because of the cost and availability of coal versus gas, which is a premium energy source and should be used for premium energy uses.

I will, pre-emptively, accept the argument that some wind component could be cost-effective when you do the proper accounting of capital and operating costs. So across a whole grid, you could have some wind component, but only properly integrated into a supply mix in a way that essentially met my prime obligation.

And that exactly, but in a very messy way that caused dramatic price volatility, is what the grid was doing — by default not structured and controlled intent — when wind was a boutique supplier in the sub-10 per cent range.

Now, it’s not. And it’s only going to get worse, more chaotic and more disruptive as idiotic state Labor politicians vaunt their climate virtue and their rationality and intelligence deficits by pursuing and mandating ever higher “renewable energy” targets and they force the real power stations to close.

The consequences are dramatic and drastic enough already. Imagine how these numbers could look in five years time when the wind share has doubled?

Now, when the wind is blowing across southern Australia and up the east coast into Queensland, wind can supply as much as 4500MW of power. As it did a number of times through the week.

But when the wind don’t blow? Well, at around 6.15 last Tuesday evening, it wasn’t blowing pretty much anywhere. The total amount of wind generation across the five eastern states was all of, wait for it, 288MW.

In South Australia? Which prides itself on its commitment to wind? And to statewide stupidity?

At 6.15 last Tuesday evening, when people were at home turning on the lights, the heaters and their cooking appliances, all the turbines in SA were generating just 4MW. Probably just enough to keep the lights on around the turbines themselves. Thank goodness for gas — and those long extension cords into Victoria and NSW.

Oh, and prices? We used to get power, when we had real power stations, at around $30 a MWh. Last Tuesday evening the wholesale price in SA was $565, in Victoria $695. In NSW and Queensland which still have more coal-fired generation — at least for the moment — the price was “only” $352 and $300 per MWh respectively.

Adopt my rule and you would eliminate both these grid-destructive wild swings in supply and the massive price distortions.

You build that 1000MW wind farm, you build an 800MW gas station next to it — and cop the dual capital cost, if you want to be able to supply at least 800MW but only up to 1000MW. No running them both at full tilt.

Or maybe you opt to guarantee only 200MW, backed up by one — or more realistically 10-20 — of those Tesla batteries. But, again at a cost, showing the true cost of supposedly “free” wind. Further if you did this, and the wind did blow, and you were pumping out the 1000MW. Well, tough; you committed to 200MW, you would have to send the other 800MW into the ether, not into the grid.
The Australian

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Jeff Walther says:

    This is a fabulous proposal/rule and really turns the “wind is cheap” argument on its ear and exposes the externalities of wind.

    From now on, when someone argues how cheap wind is, I will propose that we invoke this rule. If wind is so cheap, let the purveyors pay the cost of smoothing its intermittent nature.

  2. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  3. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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