Blackout Refugees: Businesses Plan Summer Escape From Victoria’s Renewable Energy Chaos

Pin your power needs to the weather and expect results to vary. Last summer saw mass load shedding and blackouts across Victoria, South Australia and NSW, when spikes in demand combined with collapses in wind and solar output. Demand patterns are as predictable as the delivery in wind and solar are chaotic.

That chaos is starting to focus the minds of those who pretend to have the management of Australia’s Eastern Grid all in hand.

But this is November, when the days and nights range between mild and warm and power demand is relatively moderate.

Cue the first long, hot spell in December, when power demand spikes as ACs get cranked into action to cool homes and businesses and refrigerated systems have to work harder to keep things cool.

As is often the case, those demand spikes coincide with total collapses in wind and solar output – think a run of breathless 42°C days killing the former and sunset dealing with the latter.

With a looming disaster weeks away, energy aficionados appear to have lulled themselves into a false sense of security, believing that the worst will never happen.

Babbling about SA’s mega-battery, and waffling about the production of hydrogen gas (using heavily subsidised wind and solar power, of course), energy Ministers, rent-seekers and power boffins are somewhere between denial and delusion.

For now, they’re blissfully ignoring the mass load shedding that took place barely 9 months ago, when wind and solar output duly collapsed and hundreds of thousands of Victorians were plunged into sweltering darkness: Blackout Fallout: Wind Power Debacle Leaves Thousands of Powerless Victorians Furious

But, it seems, those who actually rely upon affordable power are taking a different, less ostrich like, approach. Like rats leaving a sinking ship, Victorian businesses are making plans to escape the inevitable load shedding and rocketing prices this summer, both caused by its maniacal obsession with chaotically intermittent wind and solar.

Jo Nova takes a look at a story that explains precisely what our ‘inevitable’ transition to an all wind and sun powered future, will look like.

Manufacturers getting ready to get out of Victoria this summer if power fails
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
19 November 2019

It’s a nervous wait til summer. The Australian grid appears to be in slightly better shape than a couple of months ago, but it’s still so shaky manufacturers admit they are developing contingency plans to move operations interstate if a blackout hits, or they get attacked by a bout of high prices:

Something that doesn’t happen in competent countries with reliable electricity:

Victorian manufacturers prepare for power crunch
Angela McDonald-Smith and Mark Ludlow, AFR

Manufacturers are drawing up contingency plans to shift operations out of Victoria this summer as fears of blackouts and sky-high electricity prices for the March quarter keep nerves on edge.

While worries about blackouts in Victoria have eased in the past three months, Coca-Cola chief executive Alison Watkins said on Friday the company was prepared to beef up manufacturing in other states should the worst-case scenario eventuate in Victoria and generation fall short of demand.

Just another burden and inefficiency on business.

As power gets more expensive and unreliable the Victorian government is blaming coal:

Victoria’s Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, reiterated her concern that the increasing failure of ageing privately owned coal power generators was the biggest threat to Victoria’s power supply. She noted the work by AEMO “to secure the back-up power we need to compensate for this unreliability”.

The definition of incompetence is having a 430-billion tonne brown coal reserve but not enough electricity to operate the manufacturers that haven’t already left.

In any case, old coal plants don’t have to die, we could just keep fixing them. But the land of incompetence not only seems to have forgotten how, but it’s forgetting that it ever could. Running the behemoths in an increasingly peaky grid, with more volatile demand, higher voltage swings, and more outages, while on shrinking profit margins and in a culture of doom is hardly conducive to good corporate maintenance.

Saved by fossil fuels:
South Australia, with more renewables than anywhere, seems rather desperate to get gas power:

AGL this month switched on its new $295 million Barker Inlet gas plant outside Adelaide and has won approval to defer the mothballing of units at its Torrens Island plant until at least March.

Saved by jet engines
South Australia rushing to add another lean green jet engine to the fleet by summer:

The new generator, an Aeroderivative Open Cycle Gas Turbine, is a variation of a jet plane engine and has the capacity to reach full load within five minutes from start. The new turbine is more environmentally friendly, using half the amount of fuel of other generators on site.

The Hallett power station at Canowie, around 210 kilometres north of Adelaide, currently has 12 operating turbines with total generation capacity of 203 MW, enough to power over 60,000 South Australian homes. — Energy Australia

Saved by other people’s money
In this case the money comes from hapless customers who have to pay more because the law says they can’t choose to buy electricity from cheaper generators.

After adding more renewables per capita than anywhere on Earth strangely electricity is not cheaper yet, and not forecast to ever get cheaper than what it used to be before we got all those renewables.

Forward prices for wholesale power reflect the concerns, with Victoria’s March quarter price now at $147/MWh, having risen early in the winter and only marginally softened. The plant outages, combined with the drought, drove Victoria’s average spot power price to $98/MWh in the September quarter, the fifth highest quarter on record, AEMO said.

Victoria’s March quarter price is now almost 45 per cent above that in NSW, which has also risen north of $100/MWh.

Jo Nova Blog

About stopthesethings

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


  1. The Hinkley Point C development is on course to start generating 7% of the UK’s baseload energy needs from 2025.

    What condition will Victoria’s power grid be in by then?

  2. The new turbine is more environmentally friendly, using half the amount of fuel of other generators on site.

    Which only goes to show how wasteful SA is with gas and diesel when they are forced to use the Hallett OCGT farm to cover the wind farm intermittency. The upcoming LM2500+G4 turbine being 37.4% efficient is only very poor as opposed to piss poor if the existing Frame 5 GE OCG turbines at Hallett use double the fuel (implies around 19% efficiency). It would be very interesting to see the annual fuel use at Hallett now as opposed to a decade ago (when buying the 2nd hand Frame 5 GE OCGTs on the cheap made economic sense).

    see (pages 16 & 17)

    and (I assume the LM2500Xpress has the same efficiency as the LM2500+G4)

  3. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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