Total Joke: Australian Wind Farms Regularly Deliver Tiny Fraction of Their Total Capacity

If Australia’s wind turbine fleet hadn’t cost power consumers $20 billion to build, the joke would almost be funny.

Spread from Far North Queensland to the West Coast of South Australia, on the Eastern Grid, Australia’s wind farms are located in 5 States: Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland (see below).

In SA they’re spread from Port Augusta in the North, west to Cathedral Rocks on lower Eyre Peninsula and south to Millicent in the South-East.

In Tasmania, Cape Portland (Musselroe) and Woolnorth (Cape Grim) are situated on its northern coastline.

There are turbines spread all over Victoria, from West to East.

In NSW, they’re spread from Broken Hill in the far west, all over its tablelands and right up to Glen Innes in the New England Ranges.

In Queensland you’ll find them at Coopers Gap in the South, right up to Mount Emerald on the Atherton Tablelands to the west of Cairns.

The combined total capacity of all of the wind turbines hooked up to the Eastern Grid is 8,132 MW. And yet, notwithstanding being spread across an enormous geographical expanse, Australia’s whirling wonders often struggle to collectively produce more than 200-300 MW, representing less than 2-3 percent of all that monumentally expensive generating capacity (see above and below).

The sudden and chaotic 2-3,000 MW collapses in output are a grid manager’s nightmare.

Hopeless doesn’t cover it. No wonder Australia’s grid is on the very brink of collapse.

Here’s the teams from Catallaxy Files and Jo Nova taking a look at just one occasion when Australia’s wind ‘industry’ was proving itself to be anything but.

Dramatic falls in the output of wind power
Catallaxy Files
Tony from Oz
24 April 2021

It was known from the start that wind inputs power inputs to the grid would be intermittent but there was an expectation that the supply would become more even as more capacity was built

In 2012, when the installed capacity was 2GW, Paul Miskelly published the first major analysis of the system and he warned that the problem of wind droughts and rapid fluctuations in the wind supply might not be mitigated in the course of time. The reason is that high pressure systems cause the lows and they can sit across the whole of the SE for many hours and sometimes days.

John Morgan’s study in 2015 with 4GW of installed capacity supported Miskelly’s findings.

Mike O’Ceirin studied all the low-wind periods from 2011 to 2020 and found that prolonged wind droughts across the whole of SE Australia (the National Electricity Market) persisted with 8GW of installed capacity.  Outage YYYY V2 (1)

The spreadsheets indicate the periods when the output was 10% or less of the installed capacity. They show the duration of the low wind periods (33 hours max in 2020) and the the average supply during the period (6% in that case). The data cover the years 2011 to 2020.

Recently “Tony from Oz”, a long-term wind-watcher and commentator released some detailed studies of fluctuations in the wind supply.

The most important observation
Over the relatively two years of the study, significant falls in the supply of wind power, equivalent to the size of a typical coal-fired generator, became more prevalent, larger in size and the power loss occurred more quickly.

Frequent outages of coal-fired turbines would be regarded as a serious scandal and receive headline treatment in the media. Similar falls in the wind system pass without comment.

Supporting Information
The data come from the continuous record of output from all the registered generators that is kept by the Australian Energy Market Operator. Each wind farm is registered as a generator, likewise the individual generators, often four in number, in coal-fired power stations.

The observations cover 800 days from May 2018 to the end of June 2020

The number of short-term falls of 500MW or more were counted in periods of one hour or less and in one to three hours. A separate report covered larger falls over longer periods.

The 500MW figure corresponds to the most common capacity of coal-fired generators, so the fall of 500MW can be compared with the impact of a coal-fired generator going off line.

The situation got worse rather that better over the period of analysis, contra to the hopes and expectations of the industry.

People with a professional interest or some other motivation to get into the details of the studies can find them in The Introduction, the Study of Short-term Falls and Long-term Falls.

More on wind drought, a couple of my papers Australian Energy on the Brink on Watts Up With That and No Gusts No Glory, from Quadrant On Line.
Catallaxy Files

Wednesday’s mass failure of $20 billion worth of Wind power in Australia
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
30 April 2021

What grows on a wind “farm”? Debt-cows

On Wednesday nearly all the wind generators in the country failed. About 4,000 turbines across five states of Australia were hit by some kind of simultaneous fuel crisis. At one point all the wind power in our national grid was only making 3% of Australia’s electricity, and that was the best part of the day. At its worst, all those turbines produced about 1.2% of the power we needed. It was that bad.

Across the nation, something like $15 to $20 billion dollars of infrastructure ground to a halt.

Welcome to the clean green energy future:

Wind farm total production April 28th Australia.
The black line in this image is the total power generation across the day, and that equates equally to power consumption across the day. The green colour rolling along the bottom is wind generation, all of it, across the day. Who pays for the battery back up for these dysfunctional non-farms?

As Rafe Champion would say — it was a “choke point” all day.

It would be nice to believe this incident was due to all the old failing wind towers that used to be reliable workhorses. If only. Then there would be hope we could fix things. But these were mostly new towers, and this is as good as it gets.

We could double the money and build Snowy 2.0 power storage, state interconnectors, and batteries. Otherwise we just have to pay off the Sun, the Moon and the Southern Oscillation.

Or, of course, we could back up 99% of the entire grid with fossil fuels (and some Hydro), which we do. But then the wind farms are completely superfluous, except to make the Greens feel good, and the Renewables Industry rich.

TonyfromOz estimates we get a day like this once a year, but there are a lot of 6-hour-type squeezes when all 4,000 plus turbines make even less. A battery just isn’t going to cover that…

Who pays for the back up? We the People.

As TonyfromOz says: compare the productivity of a 50 year old coal plant

Let’s look at the ancient old clunker Liddell, now coughing its last, after 50 years of operation. Only two of its four Units are in operation, and both of them are operating at much reduced Capacity. Liddell delivered more power across the day than did EVERY wind plant in the Country, in fact nine percent more power across the whole 24 hour recording period.

So, on this day, every single wind plant in Australia cannot match the delivery from HALF of the oldest coal fired plant in the Country.

We’ve spent something in the order of $20 Billion dollars to get an 8GW generator that doesn’t work most of the time. Liddell, if they fixed it, and it could run in a free and fair market, would still be profitable.

BTW — The graphs come from, a site set up by one man — Andrew Miskelly — that provides an essential service our well funded AEMO and the entire Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure can’t manage to provide. Amazing what one determined bright guy can do.

For more information see TonyfromOz: Daily power for Tuesday 28th April: All day wind power was generating between 1 and 3% of the total Grid requirements.

References and estimates below

The rough cost and size of the Australian Wind fleet

On paper there is 8,100MW of theoretical Wind power on the National Energy Market in Australia.

(Once, for five minutes, all the turbines produced 5,310MW).

The largest installation in Victoria — The MacArthur wind “farm” — cost more than $1b in for supposedly a 420MW plant which works like a 100MW generator except for all the times it doesn’t. At that rate, the cost of building all the wind plants in Australia works out at around $19b.

The largest plant in Australia is the Coopers Gap Wind Plant, and its cost was $850 Million for a 452MW plant. With this new bulk savings the total build in Australia for 8GW of wind would be about $16b. But we probably spent a lot more.

The average wind tower is 1.95MW, so there must be around 4,200 wind towers in Australia in to add up to 8.1GW in total Nameplate capacity.

The current Capacity Factor of wind power in Australia is about 29.5% according to Tony. It’s as if it was a 2400 MW really unreliable generator.
Jo Nova Blog

6 thoughts on “Total Joke: Australian Wind Farms Regularly Deliver Tiny Fraction of Their Total Capacity

  1. Hi Mike O, I like your site and your graphics which are very good and informative although according to Firefox it is not secure. It should be a https not http site.

    1. Daniel, at present, taken overall the solar “farms” connected to the Australian eastern grid are operating at a C.F. of around 43%.
      But when you take out the hours when the sun don’t shine plus factor in the AM ramp-up and the PM ramp-down then the overall 24 hour C.F. comes out at approximately 16%. As you say even worse than the dreaded bird/bat mincers.

  2. Renewable energy has been picked up and promoted by the activist as a solution for the dreaded emissions so-called. It is easy to understand why Thunberg has such leverage because the promoters of renewable energy are mental cripples. They have no idea of the problems or whether it’s feasible all they want is some text to throw at their opposition. Droughts of renewable energy is the killer and it is far worse than what is outlined above. I am constructing a website and it is well advanced one of its pages examines this very question. The website is On the wind drought page you will find a facility to search for them. There is one every four or so days. For example from 11 AM on 5 June in 2020 until 8 PM 6 June in 2020 the whole on the eastern grid of Australia output an average of 5.5% that is for 33 hours! At this time there was nearly 8 GW of wind capacity. The capital cost is $16 billion for that.

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