What’s Chaos?: It’s When the Weather Determines Whether You’ll Get Power Or Not

STT often wonders which part of ‘calm weather’ wind power acolytes are still having trouble with?

Over the last few months, the output from Australia’s wind power fleet has not only been erratic, it’s been utterly pathetic. Any other enterprise that delivered its goods on such a haphazard, sporadic and chaotic basis would be laughed out of town. But not the wind industry. No, instead, its inherent unreliability is being rewarded with around $3 billion a year in subsidies paid in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates under the Federal government’s Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target.

Depicted above – courtesy of Aneroid Energy – is the output delivered by Australian wind power outfits to the Eastern Grid last month.

Spread from Far North Queensland, across the ranges of NSW, all over Victoria, Northern Tasmania and across South Australia its entire capacity routinely delivers just a trickle of its combined notional capacity of 7,728MW.

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.

During June there were lengthy periods when the combined output of every wind turbine connected to the Eastern Grid struggled to top 400 MW (5.1% of total capacity). Such as: 11 June when output collapsed to a trifling 86 MW (1.1% of total notional capacity); 17 June when total output fell to 134 MW (1.7% of total notional capacity); 26 June when, after a 1,200 MW slide, output was between 300-400 MW (3.8% to 5.1% of total notional capacity); and 27 June when output dropped over 900 MW to bottom out at 96 MW (1.2% of total notional capacity) for more detail see our post – New Soviet Era: Australian Businesses Paid to Shut Down When Wind & Solar Output Drops

And July was no better (see above).

When a single generator at a coal-fired power plant skips a beat for a day or so, the wind and sun cult raves about how unreliable fossil-fuelled power generation is. But, for some strange reason, the same crowd runs very silent about the data laid out above and detailed by Rafe Champion below.

Due diligence and energy security – Is wind power sustainable?
Catallaxy Files
Rafe Champion
31 August 2020

Contemplate the risk management involved in designing critical infrastructure. Mindful of the 1929 flood in Launceston the flood protection at present is designed to handle a “one in two hundred-year” rain/flood event. It might not happen in that time, on the other hand it could happen next year or the year after. The point is to make the design suit the importance of the security that the scheme provides.

The gutters on your roof might handle “one in ten” or “one in twenty-year” rains. Other things will demand a higher level of security, up to major dams and bridges that are presumably designed to handle the most extreme events that can be predicted short of nuclear war and really major earthquakes if the area is quake-prone . Not to mention the electricity system.

Why not mention electricity?

Because it seems that the RE component of the system will never handle even monthly events with existing storage technology. Who would accept a design for a bridge that you know will fail every decade, let alone every year? But every month?

Look at the numbers. RE (solar and wind) fail every time when the sun is down and there is next to no wind. There is next to no wind some of the time every month and often several times a month. Look at last month. Anything under 10% of the installed capacity is next to nothing and several times the line almost touched nothing.

That chart is for the whole of SE Australia (the NEM). Right now (2.20pm) there is next to no wind in SA (1% of windmill capacity) and very little in Victoria (the leading wind states). Across the board wind is providing 4.5% of demand in the SE and 5.5% in WA.

The question is, who did, or did not do due diligence before Australian governments decided to subsidise and mandate wind power?

What information on wind resources was available at the time. Did the BOM know? Did anyone ask? Would you trust BOM records anyway, given their performance with the temperature data? What information could have been used?

Ironically we now have a first-rate system to monitor the wind resources – the fleet of windmills and the AEMO records on their output collected at five-minute intervals over the best part of a decade. It is an expensive measuring instrument but very accurate and reliable and it provides the data to perform the due diligence that might have, could have and should have been done a long time ago. And what does the data tell us?

Update. Trust the Cat readership to come up with the goods!

CSIRO wind assessment 2003

The bit that caught my eye on a quick scan was on page 40 Long-term projection of energy yields. “No forecasting system can deliver this to sufficient accuracy.” So they had to build thousands of turbines to find out that there is not enough reliable wind. Pity about that!
Catallaxy Files

Which part of ‘calm’ are they still having trouble with??

One thought on “What’s Chaos?: It’s When the Weather Determines Whether You’ll Get Power Or Not

  1. The quote of Rafe Champion 31 August 2020 “…most extreme events that can be predicted short of nuclear war and really major earthquakes if the area is quake-prone” isn’t correct.

    Under Prez Obama’s watch it was proved that earthquakes were predictable up to weeks in advance due to changes in the ionosphere: An extended French satellite study off the America’s west coast when others noticed data anomaly.
    Because of the San Andreas Fault Obama was asked to fund a satellite early warning system. He refused saying it would be too expensive. Yet he spent billions in destruction elsewhere.

    An Italian scientist tried to warn Japan on the possibility of a tsunami but was ignored; the result is history. Yet no life was lost due to the water swamping the backup diesel generator system or any radiation leakage. The same can’t be said of US chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory Jaczko causing panic and military aid keeping a 100 mile standoff resulting in some 20,000 deaths, many possibly preventable, from other means including drowning.

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