Ever-Dependable: Coal-Fired Power Keeps On Keeping On During Australia’s Bushfire Battle

Of the more delusional claims made by wind power proponents, the notion that wind power is more dependable and reliable than coal-fired power, takes the cake.

Back in December, Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews revealed his tenuous grip on reality when he made the very same assertion: Deranged & Delusional: Victorian Government Claims Wind & Solar More Reliable Than Fossil Fuels

As the readily available output data demonstrated then, Victoria’s coal-fired plants deliver the goods with all the certitude of a Swiss watch, day after day, whereas Victoria’s wind industry puts in a pathetic performance, every single day.

This time it’s the loopy hard-left ‘think tank’, the Australia Institute demonstrating its inability to think, very much at all.

Last week a single 660 MW unit at the Bayswater coal-fired plant went down for urgent repairs and, right on cue, the Australia Institute started howling that it was “dangerous” to depend upon coal. Imputing that it would be oh so much safer to rely upon weather-dependent wind and sunshine-dependent solar. [Note to Ed: have they ever seen a sunset or experienced calm weather??].

STT will return to the facts and reality, in a moment. But first we’ll cross to an article penned by The Australian’s Perry Williams, who never ceases to amaze with his ability to play the dupe and knave when it comes to the more ludicrous claims made by renewable energy rent seekers and their acolytes, such as the Australia Institute; proving that it’s easier to be a parrot than a journalist.

Heat prompts Australian Energy Market Operator to call for urgent, emergency power supply boost
The Australian
Perry Williams
23 January 2020

Australia’s power operator called on NSW suppliers to prepare short-term emergency electricity reserves and for households to cut their energy usage amid volatile hot weather conditions and a major outage at one of the state’s biggest coal plants.

The last ditch power mechanism – triggered just a few times in the last decade – was called into action due to searing temperatures, the impact of severe NSW bushfires on power transmission and an unscheduled outage at AGL Energy’s Bayswater coal plant in the Hunter Valley.

Activation of the back-up supplies, known as the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader, was started to maintain power system security using power reserves and demand management contracts previously agreed with the market.

The Australian Energy Market Operator issued a forecast “lack of reserve 2” notice for the period from 2.30pm until 6pm as a signal for the market to direct urgent electricity supplies to the grid through either a boost in supplies or large industrial businesses cutting demand.

Households have also been called on to contribute and lower the risk of supply shortfalls.

“To help minimise the impact of supply shortfalls this afternoon, consumers can temporarily reduce their energy usage where it is safe and possible, by avoiding running multiple appliances at once, setting air conditioners to 24 degrees, and temporarily switching off pool pumps,” AEMO said in a statement.

“AEMO acknowledges that the health and wellbeing of consumers remains the highest priority, so please only conserve energy if safe to do so.”

While no impact to consumers is currently anticipated, AEMO said the situation could change given just 463 megawatts of spare reserves are forecast for Thursday’s peak demand period running from 2.30pm to 7.30pm.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said the public could play their part in reducing electricity usage given the tight market.

“The tight conditions in the electricity system this afternoon are largely a result of the state’s weather conditions, bushfire impacts on transmission lines and mechanical issues at some of the state’s power stations,” Mr Kean said, noting the peak period between 4pm and 8pm.

The NSW government activated its energy action response protocol on Thursday afternoon which involves state agencies cutting their power use, Mr Kean noted.

AGL lost 660MW, or a quarter of output, from its Bayswater plant on Wednesday after a boiler tube leakage, according to sources.

The facility is expected to take another five or six days to return to service, potentially posing a new problem for the market once peak demand resumes after the Australia Day long weekend.

The Australia Institute tweeted the situation in NSW was “demonstrating the dangers of coal dependence yet again”.

The power giant has resumed full operations at its Loy Yang A coal plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley after it suffered problems in late December following an earlier outage.
The Australian

So, let’s see how the data lines up with the Australia Institute’s whopper of a claim that the loss of a single generating unit at a coal-fired power plant is an example:

“Demonstrating the dangers of coal dependence yet again”

We’ll focus on the output of NSW’s wind power fleet (which has a combined capacity of 1,503 MW) and compare that with its coal-fired plants (which have a total capacity of 10,240 MW, around 8-8,500 of which is scheduled to be online on any given day).

NSW has a total fossil fuel generation capacity of 12,394 MW, the balance comes from gas plants, mostly OCGT ‘peakers’.

The data comes from Aneroid Fossil Energy  and Aneroid Wind Energy

Set out above is the output from NSW’s wind farms on 23 January 2020.

Unlike what’s set out below, being the output from NSW’s coal-fired plant on the same day.

Delivering a constant stream of power into the grid of between 8,000 to 8,500 MW, rising to match demand as it increased throughout the day there doesn’t appear to be any real “danger” in depending on NSW’s coal-fired plant.

Set out above is the output from NSW’s wind farms on 24 January 2020.

Managing a brief spurt of around 540 MW (35.9% of capacity) there followed a sudden and precipitous 344 MW collapse, with output falling to 196 MW (13% of capacity). After bouncing around between 200 to 400 MW for a few hours, output slumps to a trifling 100 MW (6.6% of capacity) – right at the point when householders were cranking up their air conditioners to beat the evening heat and demand for power was at its zenith.

Words like “pathetic”, “hopeless” and “risible” spring to mind, but STT is at a loss as to why any person gifted with our good friends, logic and reason, would refer to what’s depicted above as “reliable” or “dependable”.

The same, however, can’t be said of what’s set out below: the output from NSW’s coal-fired plants on the same day.

Yes, on 24 January, there was the loss of the 660 MW generating unit at Bayswater, but the rest of NSW’s coal-fired plants made a very healthy contribution of between 6,000 to 7,400 MW, rising steadily to meet demand as it increased throughout the day. A pretty stark contrast to the performance put in by NSW’s wind industry; one which, thanks to the fickle nature of the wind, it repeats every day.

The Australia Institute is just another playground for the deluded RE zealots that believe that wholly weather-dependent wind and sunshine-dependent solar are more reliable and dependable than coal-fired power plants.

The only “danger” associated with Australia’s power supply is allowing this class of lunatics anywhere near Australia’s reliable and affordable conventional generation system. That system, which has been merrily chugging away for more than a century, has proven itself to be a whole lot more dependable than Johnny come lately wind and solar, time and time again.

Australia’s long, hot summer has a long way to run and, thanks to the inevitable chaos dished up by intermittent wind and solar, its inhabitants can expect more mass load shedding (controlled blackouts aka “demand management”) and widespread blackouts (demand mismanagement) before it’s over.

Welcome to your ‘inevitable transition’ from drinking icy cold beer in air-conditioned comfort on sweltering Summer evenings to sweating in the dark!

Australians join Cubans in inevitable transition to sweating in the dark.

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:

    The particular brand of deception described in the article is particularly insidious, because pointing it out requires explaining details of how the electrical grid works. And most folks don’t seem to want to sit still for details.

    Before RE, we had a grid with some generators that operated most of the time, and a certain amount of backup capacity, which operated less, but was available when a “reliable” generator had an unexpected problem. It’s a little more complicated than that, because everyone must get paid, if they are to stay in business, so in some cases it looked more like a pot of demand that was time-shared by part-time generators.

    Anyway, when RE came on the grid, nothing special was done, other than running long expensive transmission lines to wherever the RE was located.

    The intermittent nature of RE was compensated for using the existing backup capacity.

    In effect, some of the existing backup capacity became dedicated to making RE usable on a reliable grid.

    As RE grows, and its intermittent nature is not realistically acknowledged, it consumes more and more of the existing backup capacity, until all of the backup capacity is dedicated to smoothing out the intermittent nature of RE.

    Now, when a reliable generator goes down (and there are fewer of them, because some have been replaced by RE+backup) there’s no backup capacity available, because it’s all being used to balance RE. Sure, if the RE happens to be working that day, and hour and minute, then the backup is available, until the RE goes down.

    So the reliable generator gets the blame, even though the only reason there isn’t a backup available, is because all the “free” backup that was available on the grid is now being used to make RE look like it’s a good deal.

    • All true Jeff and this situation hasn’t arisen by accident, it is a function of deliberate campaign to destroy the viability of cost effective, reliable despatchable generation, in Australia’s case coal generation.  The Renewable Energy Target legislation has created a grossly distorted market where unreliable, intermittent RE is propped up by massive mandated subsidies, while reliable base load generators have had their competitiveness and profitability intentionally destroyed by the RET artifice. 
      The wind industry screams sovereign risk at the mere suggestion of the removal of subsidies and yet the owners of reliable fossil fuel generation have already had the biggest dose of sovereign risk in the country’s history imposed on them.  Strangely, coal, gas and hydro generation was pretty much always able to provide adequate reserve capacity for more than 80 years, that is until the loony green ideological zealots took control of our legislatures.  The current situation, which the likes of dim witted Dan Andrews is unable to comprehend is brought into sharp focus when we see old but reliable plants like Hazelwood forced to close as a result of the RET market distortions and the Andrews government’s ideologically inspired bastardry.  If Andrews and his ilk could do simple arithmetic they may understand that the maligned old steamer would have provided at least another 1200MW (from even 6 of its 8 x 200MW units) of reliable capacity to the interconnected eastern grid to shore up the loss of the 660MW Bayswater unit.The RET’s war on coal has ensured there is little incentive on the part of base load coal generators to do expensive maintenance upgrades, hence when plants inevitably shut down e.g. Northern PS in SA, we get exactly what we see now, added cost to electricity users to pay for industry shut downs (demand management) and blackouts (more “demand management”).  With prime minister Scomo, who once brought a lump of coal (concentrated solar energy) into parliament, now so cowed by the “progressives” in his own party that he can no longer even say the word coal, the chances of any return of rationality to the electricity supply industry are very slim.

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

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