Wanna Know What’s Really Powering Australia? It Ain’t Sunshine & Breezes – It’s Coal

Coal-fired plants: what’s really powering Australia.


After almost 20 years and tens of $billions in subsidies, wind and solar’s combined contribution to Australian energy demand is risible. And that’s on average. Those pesky facts (sunset and calm weather) mean that there are hundreds of occasions each year when their combined contribution is a big fat zero.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, it’s Australian coal that keeps on delivering the goods, 24/7, whatever the weather.

Renewables rise but fossil fuels still power nation
The Australian
Geoff Chambers
13 September 2019

Coal, oil and natural gas provided 94 per cent of Australia’s “primary energy” needs and 81 per cent of electricity generation last year, as the nation continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels despite a surge in renewable energy.

The annual Australian Energy Update reveals electricity generation from renewables increased 10 per cent in 2017-18, and grew to 19 per cent of total generation last year. Energy Minister Angus Taylor said while the energy update, released on Friday, showed a lower reliance on coal compared with previous years, coal-fired electricity generation “still accounted for 60 per cent of total generation” in 2018.

“The challenge in the energy sector is integrating the renewables boom to deliver affordable and reliable power. That means keeping our existing generation in, and running at full tilt, and supporting complementary investment in dispatchable generation and storage,” Mr Taylor said.

“Key findings from the Australian Energy Update 2019, covering all types of energy used across the Australian economy, show that energy productivity has improved by 20 per cent over the past decade as the emissions intensity of the economy continues to fall.”

In 2017-18, Australia’s energy consumption rose by 0.9 per cent to reach 6172 petajoules, with transport remaining the largest user of energy, growing by 2 per cent. Total energy production by fuel type was led by black coal, natural gas and oil, followed by brown coal and renewables.

Coal consumption in NSW hit 25 per cent, while Victoria registered a 19 per cent fall in 2017-18.

Mr Taylor said coal remained vital to the NSW economy, providing almost 80 per cent of electricity generation across the state last year.

The Morrison government is considering underwriting new gas, hydro and coal projects across the nation to modernise the energy grid in an effort to drive down electricity prices, which fell in the June quarter to their lowest level since September, 2017.

The government last month launched a Liddell taskforce with the Berejiklian government to consider options in response to AGL’s planned closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station, located in the NSW Hunter region, in 2023. AGL earlier this year deferred the closure of the 50-year-old plant, which was originally planned to cease operating at the end of 2022.

Mr Taylor warned that Victoria’s energy grid, which continues to rely on coal and gas, would come under extreme pressure over summer.

“While the Victorian Labor government has adopted an irresponsible renewable energy target there are very real concerns for the reliability and stability of the Victorian energy grid this summer,” he said.

He also urged the Andrews government to remove its ban on gas exploration to help support heavy industries and jobs through the “delivery of reliable and affordable power to households and businesses”.

South Australia’s move to renewables has seen its reliance on them increase to 51 per cent of total electricity generation across 2018.

Mr Taylor said the state, gripped by mass blackouts in recent years, needed to “integrate the surge in renewables” through the retention of “thermal generation” and supporting “complimentary investment in dispatchable generation and storage”.

The minister said gas remained an important part of South Australia’s energy mix, representing 52 per cent of the state’s electricity generation.

Gas consumption increased in Queensland and Western Australia, with the mining and LNG sector in the west representing nearly one-third of total WA energy consumption.
The Australian

The data above comes from Aneroid Energy and shows the output of every wind turbine connected to Australia’s Eastern Grid, situated from Far North Queensland, down through New South Wales, all over Victoria, Northern Tasmania and South Australia, with a combined notional capacity of 6,702 MW.

Notwithstanding its enormous geographical spread, Australia’s wind power fleet delivers an unreliable, chaotic and occasional source of electricity, often when and where it’s needed least; often collapsing without warning, when it’s needed most.

On numerous occasions, wind power output collapses in magnitudes of thousands of MWs, with the entire fleet often struggling to produce more than 400 MW or 6% of notional capacity.

If the same were true of Australia’s coal-fired power plants, Australians would spend more than half their time freezing or boiling in the dark. And yet, we’re repeatedly told that we’re well on our way to an all wind and sun powered future. It’s as if the collective has filed for divorce against reality.

David Bidstrup runs the wind and solar numbers and reaches the answer to Australia’s renewable energy debacle: a diesel generator for every household.

Where were the renewables when we needed them?
Catallaxy Files
David Bidstrup
3 September 2019

Yesterday’s Australian had an article by Nick Cater [available here] where he reported an interview on 3AW with the Victorian Energy Minister. With the looming energy crisis this coming summer she was asked “can you guarantee supply?” The following charts show the percentage of demand met by the different generators on January 18 2018, a day when temperatures “soared” into the 40’s and electricity prices “soared” to $14,500 per MWh.

The numbers come from the AEMO reports that list each generators output every five minutes. With a bit of fiddling around it is possible to split the production into component parts and then analyse the percentage of demand met by the different generators in 5 minute increments during the day. My source is Aneroid Energy.

The first chart shows the daily demand curve. There are 288 5 minute increments on the X axis.

The next shows the percentage of demand met by coal, gas and hydroelectricity.

Next is the contribution from wind and solar. Note that I did not plot them against coal, gas and hydro because they would not show up on the chart.

The table below summarises the total production for the day and the % supplied by each type. Note that coal, gas and hydro provided 97.7% of the required energy and renewables just 2.3%.

MWh 396,753 61,939 51,824 9,469 2,509
% SUPPLIED 75.9% 11.9% 9.9% 1.8% 0.5%
97.7% 2.3%


The peak wind was 3% at around 4.30 a.m. and peak solar was 1.3% at 10.35 a.m. so their peaks were about 6 hours apart.

The following day was also one of high demand, high prices and poor renewable performance. Looking at the numbers I think it is time to get a generator before next summer hits.
Catallaxy Files





About stopthesethings

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


  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  2. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    One problem with data used by the misguided is to rely on averages no matter whether they are referring to daily, weekly, monthly or yearly averages.
    If power isn’t available when needed then an average taken over a day, week, month or even a year is of no use to anyone.
    This ESSENTIAL SERVICE needs to be readily available at the ‘drop of a hat’. In a modern society we should not have to wait until the wind blows or the sun shines to be able to access energy. Electricity is something we should not have to even think about, except when we get the bill, even then it should only be of concern if the bill is excessive with people needing to seek assistance to pay it.
    The stress on everyday living for some who these days not only cannot pay their bill ‘on-time’, but need to arrange staggered payments, or have supply cut off is something this once proud country which call itself ‘The Lucky Country’ is no longer able to provide to far too many.
    It is only going to get worse unless our State and Federal ‘leaders’ stop pussy-footing around and got down to business to bring the country back from the abyss and put the Renewable industry back in the box they escaped from and marked ‘never to be opened again’.
    Liddel – 50 years old and still going – wind turbines beginning to reach their use-by dates after around a measly 20yrs.
    What then – ah yes build more and more to replace the ones that have given up the ghost as-well as increasing the number and size in new projects. Of course don’t forget the Batteries to ‘store’ energy and now the thousands of solar panels.
    Alas we then have to search for sites to dump the dangerous materials from turbines, solar panels and batteries that cannot be recycled.
    Recycling ooh but doesn’t that require the use of more of that dirty word ‘electricity’. No matter its all in a good cause!
    So what does our future consist off?
    Cropping and grazing lands gone to accommodate turbines and solar projects and our outback so littered with detritus from turbines, solar panels and batteries.
    All our beautiful lands gone for the sake of something called ‘renewable’ energy when in fact there is nothing renewable about what they leave behind.
    The wind will still blow and the sun will still shine but we will have caused devastation of our once beautiful lands.
    Wake up Australia you are moving toward the biggest disaster to ever hit this Nation.
    Never has there been an industry which could keep on growing into eternity like this so called ‘renewable’ one. They know they will be needing to replace their wears every couple of decades or less and know they have Governments held hostage once reliable sources of energy that do not rely on misleading ‘averaging’ production to meet peoples needs have been destroyed.
    They have a never ending flow of customers held to ransom.
    They are unlike coal and gas plants which once built require only regular maintenance and occasional upgrading with owners not having to constantly look for new land to build new plants and demolish the older ones as production resides at permanent purposefully chosen Industrial sites, where noise and emissions can be controlled.
    This so called ‘renewable’ industry is nothing of the kind it is a short term constant replacement industry that leaves behind damaged environments and mountains of debris. The only thing renewable about it is the ‘new’ being the need to constantly find new land to infest.

  3. Australians pay a steep price for their virtue signaling. In time, this will have an effect. Some of that we have seen at the last election when the virtue signallers were booted. An advanced economy needs reliable power sources, and they ought to be affordable as well. Learn through pain, but learn you will.

  4. Son of a goat says:

    I think peoples we are about to enter “peak paranoia” if this article by zealot and chief bed wetter Timbo Flannery in the socialist rag the The Guardian is anything to go by.


    Paradoxically the only thing that will save us from the climate hysteria is for the power to go out this Friday.

    God help us!

    • Anyone that uses the word “disconnect” as (a politically correct sounding) adjective in the present tense instead of adding an “ed” or “ion” is DISCONNECTED!

  5. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

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