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Wind power sucks money and electricity in South Australia

Posted By Jo Nova On July 20, 2016 @ 3:04 pm In Energy,Global Warming,Renewable | Comments Disabled

On a good day South Australia has more than 40% renewable energy. On a bad day, it’s -2 or something. Wind towers suck in so many ways.  They can even draw more power out than they bring in and best of all — their peak electron sucking power comes just when the state needs electricity the most.

Business blows up as turbines suck more power than they generate

The sapping of power by the turbines during calm weather on July 7 at the height of the ­crisis, which has caused a price surge, shows just how unreliable and ­intermittent wind power is for a state with a renewable ­energy mix of more than 40 per cent.

South Australia has more “renewable” wind power than anywhere else in Australia. They also have the highest electricity bills, the highest unemployment, the largest number of “failures to pay” and disconnections. Coincidence?

The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market (NEM) prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000MWh maximum price.

Complaints from business about the extreme prices – in normal times they are below $100 – prompted the state government to ask energy company ENGIE to switch its mothballed Pelican Point gas power station back on.

It’s not just about peak pricing it’s monthly pricing too:

Electricity contracts for delivery in 2017 and 2018 are priced at $91-100MWh in South Australia, compared to $50-63 in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

South Australian NEM prices have averaged about $360MWh so far this month, Mr Morris said, compared to $80-90MWh in Victoria and NSW.

SA has more disconnections than anywhere else:

Statistics from the Australian Energy Regulator showed South Australia already had the highest proportion of disconnections in the nation. From January to March, more than 0.30 per every 100 customers or more than 2,500 South Australian residential customers were disconnected.

This is the wind power contribution in SA for the last two weeks: (this is a typical pattern, see August 2015.)

Wind power, South Australia, Graph, July 2016.



The current plan is to take this supply disaster and spread it

How much fun can you have? Here’s the total national grid wind power contribution. When the wind doesn’t blow in SA, it also doesn’t blow in NSW, Qld, Victoria and Tas too.


Wind power, renewable energy, Australia, Graph, July 2016


South Australia’s electrical pain is self-inflicted:

Yet this month the state has run short of power and been hit by spot prices 30 times higher than the eastern states. The government has had to beg electricity suppliers to fire up mothballed gas generators to prevent major industries from shutting down.

In recent months what was once the state’s main electricity generator, the coal-fired station at Port Augusta, was closed permanently because it couldn’t compete with subsidised renewables. Yet when storms rendered the turbines useless — too much wind — the state couldn’t import enough coal-fired power from Victoria. It was caught short and paid a high price. This was an extreme event but South Australians already pay the highest electricity prices in the country and some of the highest in the world.

Doesn’t this look like a great place to build high tech submarines?

RenewEconomy still claims wind and solar make electricity cheaper

Apparently spikes in electricity prices were more common in summer before SA installed a mass of solar panels.  They don’t mention monthly power costs. It’s all a big conspiracy. Blame the Murdoch media pack and the importance of “smashing monopolies”. Somehow Australian corporates foolishly bray in support of the “energy oligopoly”, unlike the wise subsidy-sucking likes of Apple and Google in the US.

Marvel that in green commentary there is an assumption that our companies are so stupid they don’t support the “cheapest” form of electricity. As if the big miners like BHP Billiton, Arrium and Nyrstar haven’t sliced and diced the numbers on their electricity bills to the nth degree.

Here’s UNemployment around Australia:

Tell me again how many jobs renewable energy creates?

Unemployment, Australian states, Statistics, SA, WA, QLD, NSW, Victoria, TAS. 2016.

Unemployment figures, state by state. Source, Australian Government, May 2016

SA Power is in trouble this week for failing to notify people on life-support that their electricity was going to be cut off.

 TonyFromOz explains why wind turbines can suck electricity instead of generating it

Here’s just some of the areas of consumption.

The blades are feathered in high winds or when stopped, and when they are to start up again, they must be rotated out of the feathered state.

The nacelle will just stop when the wind does, at its last setting.

Power is consumed to keep all the workings in readiness for operation. Power is needed for the system which gauges when the wind is at the correct speed for starting. Once that is reached, the whole nacelle has to be turned into the direction of the wind, and that’s not a small amount as those electric drive motors have to turn the huge weight of the nacelle with the blades, which then have to be turned out of the feathered state so the wind can take over.

While idle, there are also electrics involved in keeping the whole unit lubricated, and that proved a problem in Canada in the early days when the lubrication froze up, so they then had to add (electrically operated) heaters for the lubricating fluid.

Once operational the unit itself supplies the power for each towers electrics, turning the nacelle, rotating the blade angle etc etc etc, so again, while the unit says that it has a (nominal) Nameplate of 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5 MW or more, part of that power is lost as part of the internal operation of each tower. I’ve actually gotten into trouble for saying that as the comeback was that even a coal fired generator unit consumes fractional amounts of power, barely even noticeable when you have a 660MW generator, but this guy was adamant. He didn’t come back when I said that one coal fired generator had minute overall losses, while here you have some wind plants with anything up to 150 plus individual nacelles, all sucking power.

As I’ve said before “…if the Greens were serious about cutting carbon (sic) they would talk about the new ultracritical hot coal plants which can save as much as 15% of our emissions and produce reliable electricity at the same time. Or, if say, the health of the planet was a stake, I reckon they might even discuss nukes.”

h/t  Dennis, Analitik, Greame No. 3.

UPDATE: Edited the last subheading to be UNemployment around Australia to reflect that graph more accurately. Thanks Tony Thomas.


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