It’s No Joke: Australia’s Electricity Supply Now Depends On Wind & Cloud Forecasts

If you’re looking for the reason why wind power has never worked and never will? Here it is: THE WEATHER.

If you’re looking to wreck a grid and send power prices into orbit, then pin your power hopes to mother nature’s whims. South Australia did; it suffers the world’s highest retail power prices and became the butt of international jokes for a series of weather-related mass blackouts.

Looking for an example? Take a scan of what’s depicted above.

That’s the ‘performance’ of Australia’s wind power fleet during April – courtesy of Aneroid Energy

Spread from Far North Queensland, across the ranges of NSW, all over Victoria, Northern Tasmania and across South Australia its 6,960 MW of capacity routinely delivers just a trickle of that.

Collapses of over 3,000 MW or more that occur over the space of a couple of hours are routine, as are rapid surges of equal magnitude, which make the grid manager’s life a living hell, and provide the perfect set up for power market price gouging by the owners of conventional generators, who cash in on the chaos.

The Australian Energy Market Organisation (AEMO) – a body of wind and solar obsessed boffins – is tasked with keeping the lights on in Australia, notwithstanding the chaos delivered by their beloved windmills and solar panels.

Their most publicly visible ‘work’ occurs when they engage in what they euphemistically call “demand management”. Which is just another way of referring to controlled blackouts – increasingly common events that are engineered when the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in, and large power users get cut from the grid.

And when that forced reduction in ‘demand’ isn’t enough to keep the grid from collapsing entirely, they then slash the power supply to whole regions and suburbs. And all this in a notionally first world economy.

Apparently in an effort to come to grips with the power pricing and supply calamity they’ve helped create, AEMO released a report earlier this month, in which they tended to gloss over the effect that the unreliables have had on Australia’s power supply. However, the section extracted below caught STT’s attention.

Renewable Integration Study: Stage 1
AEMO
April 2020

6.2 Increase in Uncertainty (p59)

As variable renewable energy (VRE) becomes more prevalent, AEMO must be able to manage the unpredictability associated with weather to operate the system securely.

Variable events, such as changes in wind or cloud movements, are challenging to forecast accurately over both short and longer forecasting horizons. Technological development and innovation have resulted in significant improvements in weather forecast accuracy, however the level of accuracy and precision achievable by best practice weather forecasts can still lead to significant challenges in predicting VRE output and variability in the power system.

Figure 17 shows some of the challenges in forecasting wind and solar. It highlights that:

  • The 24-hour and 8-hour ahead forecasts showed minimal prediction of the ramping event. These forecasts rely on global numeric weather prediction models (NWPs), and on this particular day the local effects of a prefrontal trough and a large band of precipitation were not well resolved by the NWP. This resulted in an increase in forecast inaccuracies during the ramping periods.
  • While the 1-hour ahead forecast improves closer to real time as more up-to-date information is incorporated, the persistent component of these forecasts means they tend to lag actual real time generation. Recent wind and solar output gives a good indication of the level of future output (close to real time), but it does not give a reliable indication future variability. The 1-hour ahead forecast gives a reasonable indication of future output when variability is low (see Figure 17, 00:00 to 13:00), however is not actually predicting the variability. When variability is high (see Figure 17, 14:00 to 00:00), the performance of the model erodes and there is a higher margin of uncertainty. As shown in Figure 17, the 1-hour ahead forecast (yellow trace) has a similar shape to actual generation (purple trace), however it is offset (shifted to the right) by one hour.

Failure to forecast these large changes in VRE (and subsequent net demand requirements) will become increasingly operationally difficult. There is a need to improve the performance of weather forecasting and power forecasting models, or develop new dedicated operational tools, to appropriately manage and communicate uncertainty under variable or extreme weather conditions.

Flexible resources are also needed, to cover the residual uncertainty that cannot be addressed by forecasting improvements and variability that is characteristic of wind and solar resources.


AEMO

Surprise, surprise! A group of purportedly expert engineers and power marketers have had to morph into shaman and soothsayers hoping to predict the weather.

Whether their weather predictions concern cloud cover (crushing solar output) or calm weather (sending wind power output to the floor), STT doubts that these characters are any better than the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Bureau is hard pressed to give any weather prediction that holds beyond about seven days hence.

Moreover, predictions about the strength and variability of wind at a given wind farm site have all the statistical power of picking the winning numbers for XLotto.

The only reason, of course, that they’re interested in predicting when wind and solar output might either surge or collapse, is to give some kind of notice to dispatchable generators to idle back their plants (in response to a surge) or to crank up their output (in response to a collapse).

At the heart of this nonsense is the notion that an industrial economy can meaningfully power itself on sunshine and breezes.

Once upon a time, before these clowns and their rent seeking mates got involved in Australia’s power market, this country had ample capacity to provide electricity, 24 x 7, on demand to all comers; and its supply had nothing to do with the weather.

If you’re any good at predicting the weather, then send your CV to the AEMO. Who knows, they might make you chief of operations.

AEMO’s new chief of operations and his wet finger get to work.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Crakar24 says:

    To add to the irony the C band Doppler radars they use to predict the weather is corrupted by the turning of a wind turbine blade

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. toby robertson says:

    Why does the article use a day in 2017? Surely they have more upto date info on actual vs forecasted etc?

    I note that apparently weather forcecasting is currently much harder because the planes aren’t in the air feeding information to forecasters continually.

    Aneroid energy is an awesome must see site.

    Reneweconomy today posted on facebook about how wind hit 5000Mw on the 2nd of May which they posted on the 4th… it hasnt gone down well that I pointed out it averaged around 700 Mw on the 4th and was as low as around 160 Mw!

    Of course the arguments I throw up have all been dealt with before and nobody can be bothered to explain their “truth ” to me. I am banned from reneweconomy because they didn’t like my questions or facts…but they cant ban me from facebook!. Bt they do continue to fail to respond with any sensible facts or logic!

    • As to your first point, ask AEMO. I suspect they have been working on this report for years, but were in no hurry to publish it.

      As to your last, cults have never dealt with facts all that well, especially when those facts reveal the weakness and faults in their beliefs.

  4. Terry Conn says:

    I am totally buoyed to see the names of Paul Miskelly and Alan Watts and Jackie Rovensky in today’s comments section of STT. The battle against this gigantic scam goes on and I sincerely hope the original warriors live long enough to see common sense and scientific reality prevail – even Michael Moore has worked it out. Every day I read STT and everyday I take the battle up by commenting in a national daily newspaper trying to get the messages and facts as revealed by STT out to other readers. It is not us that is afraid of debating the issues or being open minded but it is hard to win an argument with ‘religious fundamentalists’ and people driven by greed but the battle has to go on for the sake of our nation’s future – funny thing that the Chinese Communist Party is not relying on sunshine and breezes to provide electricity to its 1.4 billion citizens! Well done ‘aneroid’ – there is no better set of factual analysis that reveals the absurd notion of relying on wind power to power a modern society.

  5. George Papadopoulos says:

    So the big expensive batteries that can keep the power going for a few minutes are that useful after all…

  6. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    Trying to forecast the weather – well even if they manage to begin to understand and be able to accurately forecast the general wind strength and direction more often they will never be able to accurately forecast to the exacting point showing when and where a gust will blow across each turbine. Nor will they be ever able to predict with certainty how clouds will perform over a solar plant.
    With respect to solar and clouds you do have to be able to predict the wind height/strength/direction to be able to predict how clouds will form over each solar panel.
    There is no certainty and I doubt they will be able to get close to predicting accurately enough to enable certainty of energy production by Wind and or Solar.
    What AEMO is trying to say is – pretty please – someone get us out of this mess we have laden ourselves with, its fast becoming clear to more and more people we do not know what we are doing and the powers that be may decide to shut us down, or return back to certainty of energy production by clean coal production or even take up nuclear energy production. If they do then we will have to let people go as we will not need so many running around doing B all trying to keep the country lit up, our numbers will be reduced once commonsense and certainty returns.
    The cry for help from AEMO is nothing more than an example of the mess this country is in due to money grabbing self-interest ‘investors’.
    Maybe someone could do an investigation on just how much these ‘investors’ risk with their investments – do they risk anything?
    Especially considering they have been given a free hand to force these things on to us.
    Just a note out of interest – with the possibility that the MASSIVE installation proposed for WA – Pilbara region with the energy produced going to be sent via under sea cabling to Indonesia and Singapore – who/which country is going to be paying the subsidies and which country will be paying the environmental cost, the removal and disposal of all those towers and panels etc when it comes to the end of it’s useful life?
    The same goes for a huge solar plant proposed for Tennent Creek area with the energy produced to be exported to – yes again – Singapore?
    How are they going to workout who gets the financial return on this export, will the Federal Government get any or will it all go to the ‘investors’ who will be funding construction – who actually is going to fund such massive projects as well as the cabling to Indonesia and Singapore?
    Will these projects be added to the list of ‘renewable’ energy projects in Australia and going towards the commitment forced on us by the signing of a stupidly designed agreement a now former self interested PM signed off on without first seeking consensus from the people of this country to be landed with the consequences of this irresponsible badly detailed International Commitment?

  7. Paul Miskelly says:

    Hi STT,
    Thank you, but I have to ask that credit be given where credit is due: anero.id is entirely the brainchild of our son Andrew. Many years ago now, back in 2008-9, when I was first pointed to the electricity data available at the AEMO’s NEMWEB site, I wrote some code to extract the data there and to try to make sense of it. There is an enormous amount of data publicly available there, but for the casual visitor, it is presented in a way that is almost impenetrable. Andrew has the IT skills and decided to unpack and present the relevant data in a way that was instantly recognisable, and in the process “showed Dad how it ought to be done!”. The energy pages on this present site grew from those early beginnings, to the extent that the site’s operation is almost entirely automatic, downloading the data from http://nemweb.com.au/Reports/CURRENT/Dispatch_SCADA every 5-minutes, unpacking and charting it, and incidentally storing it away for later use. The user is able to look at the data for any day right back to early 2014.
    For example, if readers want to look at what happened to wind output on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 September 2016 in South Australia, (the day of the State-wide blackout), just go to the link: https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2016/september/28 and play with the various boxes as desired.
    So, there it is.
    Trusting that you can keep up your excellent work.
    Paul Miskelly

  8. Vanessa says:

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.!!!! What a mess.

  9. Reblogged this on Gds44's Blog.

  10. “Demand management” is just a euphemism for putting companies out of business. Once the skyrocketing prices of renewable energy hits them, large-scale users of electricity will be forced to reduce their demand permanently by relocating or shutting down their factories. Higher power prices lead to the loss of jobs and a reduced standard of living.

  11. Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Straight choice: ideology versus reliability.

  12. Paul Miskelly says:

    Hi STT,
    As if on cue, yesterday afternoon, Monday 04 May 2020, at 15:00 AEST, we find that total wind energy output on the Eastern Australian grid was all of 152.4 MW. This dribble came from a total installed wind farm capacity of something over 7000 MW.
    The reason, as STT reports above, is entirely due to the weather: yesterday a great big high pressure system passed over eastern Australia, with its centre passing over Melbourne. Great big high pressure systems are characterised by fine, clear weather, with no wind anywhere. Enough said.
    As STT so often suggests, readers may see the detail of this sorry result for yesterday at anero.id, the specific link being:
    https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2020/may/4
    To view the actual power output, click on the black “MW” button at the top right of the chart labelled “Wind Energy Production During 4 May 2020” at this link. Perhaps tick and untick the various States’ boxes undbr the wind farm list below the chart to view which State’s fleet did the worst, etc., etc.
    When are our policymakers going to wake up to this futility?
    Well done, STT, yet again!
    Paul Miskelly

  13. Alan Watts says:

    That is entirely the wrong finger for renewable energy.

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