Hour of Power: $2 Billion Spent on Solar Panels to ‘Power’ State With Sunshine for 60 Minutes

South Australians cross their fingers & hope for power tomorrow…


In the wacko wonderland of South Australia, a brief burst of sunshine managed to ‘power’ the economic backwater for a staggering 60 minutes. SA is venerated as Australia’s Wind and Solar capital; and the renewables cult is heralding this, apparently, momentous event as their ‘Hour of Power’.

Their childish cheering, ignores the fact that – thanks to an obsession with heavily subsidised and chaotically intermittent wind and solar – South Australians suffer the world’s highest retail power prices, the ignominy of suffering the country’s only statewide blackout and – as a consequence of both – the rapid decline in mineral processing, manufacturing and other energy hungry businesses.

Those trumpeting 60 minutes of solar power as the future, might well consider the other 23 hours of the day and, particularly, that rather expansive period between sundown and sunup, when in South Australia almost every single electron is being generated by gas and diesel fired generators, backed up by coal-fired power shipped across the border from Victoria and NSW.

The claim that a one hour burst of solar power is some kind of victory, ignores the fact that first world economies demand electricity as and when consumers need it, not when the sun is pitched perfectly in the sky.

The team from JoNova, always ready to rain on the cult’s parade, dig a little deeper below.

Bargain! $2 billion in solar panels powers SA for whole hour on Sunday in Spring!
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
27 October 2020

The ABC, Australian public broadcaster, is excited. For the first “phenomenal time” in the world – one state, South Australia, managed to produce enough solar power so that (in theory) the whole state was powered by solar electrons for one hour on a Sunday at midday in Spring. It was one of the lowest demand days of the year in one of the smallest markets in Australia. The ABC and AEMO don’t mention that it took about $2 billion in capital infrastructure to achieve this trivial feat.

TonyfromOz points out that during this hour the ABC also don’t mention that natural gas plants were running in SA. Apparently SA was exporting electricity to Victoria and with a magic filter at the border so only fossil powered electrons were sent there. He also points out the ABC forgot to say that South Australia only uses 5% of the National Electricity Market.

SA electricity on October 11 2020
How many versions of natural gas and diesel keep the lights on in SA?

In reality, I assume Victoria was the dumping ground for the solar surge — otherwise generators in SA would have to have been shut down or disconnected. Did Victorian baseload generators lose some income while they sat around on standby for the surge to fade?

Phenomenal gushing and free advertising on their ABC:
All of South Australia’s power comes from solar panels in world first for major jurisdiction
By Richard Davies

South Australia’s renewable energy boom has achieved a global milestone. The state once known for not having enough power has become the first major jurisdiction in the world to be powered entirely by solar energy.

For just over an hour on Sunday, October 11, 100 per cent of energy demand was met by solar panels alone.

“This is truly a phenomenon in the global energy landscape,” Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) chief executive Audrey Zibelman said.

Alternately, they could have spent that $2b building a coal plant which would last for generations and power the whole state whenever they felt like they wanted electricity, even if that included every single minute of the day.

Alternately, the SA Government could have spent $30m and kept the old coal plant running at Port Augusta. That would have left $1,970 million dollars for South Australians to spend on food, health, education or trips to see the Great Barrier Reef before it evaporates.

Don’t miss the magic hour of solar supremacy

Reneweconomy marks up the magic hour of SA solar supremacy.

Adding up the $ 2 billion cost of all that solar infrastructure

In September 2018, the South Australian Government announced that it would offer $100M in state government subsidies for up to 40,000 households to install battery storage in their homes. Eligible home owners and renters could receive $500 per kWh up to a maximum of $6,000 for eligible solar and battery systems [42]

The real total is so much higher. This barely considers all the soft subsidies, the interconnector cost, the transmission lines, the batteries, the extra costs for FCAS (frequency control) and spinning condensers etc etc to make up for the lack of system inertia.

The Grid is like “lungs” (that breathe once a day?)
The price of solar includes rearranging your day and night so that you do everything at midday or pay big money to install batteries to compensate for the uselessness of your solar panels for 60% of the day.

Paul Roberts is SA Power Networks spokesman. He says “get excited”.

“It’s an exciting future for South Australia and we have a whole number of things that we are putting in place to manage that,” he said.

That includes making it cheaper for people to use power during the day and encouraging people to switch on dishwashers, pool pumps and hot water systems in the middle of the day.

The next step is convincing more people to connect batteries to store cheap energy during the day.

“The grid needs to become increasingly like a set of lungs,” AEMO chief external affairs officer Tony Chappel said.

“During the day, the lungs would breathe in and excess energy can be stored and then in the evening when the sun’s gone down, that energy can be fed back.”

We the people are excited. Once, we got power anytime and every time we wanted it, which was predictable, boring and cheap. Now we are part of a living grid that breathes free electricity into our homes at lunchtime but otherwise eats $100 bills straight from our wallet.

The ABC claps and asks no hard questions like, how much will it cost? Will it really stop storms? How many degrees cooler will the world be? Are there cheaper ways to reduce CO2 emissions? Does reducing man-made CO2 even change atmospheric CO2 levels? Will we be able to measure the benefit of this ever by any means? Are the Chinese rolling on the floor laughing at our pagan stupidity?
Jo Nova Blog

Then the Sun set, darkness fell across SA and the dream ended.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Crispin bpm says:

    There are 24 hrs in a day!

    South Australia, which isn’t a country, is a very large land mass with a low population of around 1.6 million people. Victoria on the other hand is a small land mass with a very large population of around 6.3 million. Far more suited to a centralised power generation system such HELE coal or next generation nuclear.

    And what about the elephant in the room?

    Population growth!

    We will need enormous amounts of surplus baseload energy in the decades ahead, to cater for the vast ‘Supercities’ of the future. Look at China!

    In my opinion, this is parochial thinking SA.

    Think BIG!!!

  2. Brian Johnston says:

    Will the panels have paid for themselves when they are due for replacement.
    PV solar does not have the capacity to power the grid. Then they have to match demand with generation exactly and synchronize to the grid. It just aint gonna happen.
    The gas is doing the work.

    • The panels “might” just repay what the householder paid but if direct capital cost subsidies, like STCs and government subsidies are considered, no way. When the indirect electricity market costs of roof-top solar are considered, such as FCAS and wholesale market price distortions, then the real cost impact becomes much worse.

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