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The South Australian black out — A grid on the edge. There were warnings that renewables made it vulnerable

Australians are going to be talking about this for weeks. Indeed, the SA Blackout is the stuff of legend.

The Greens are blaming coal (what else?) for causing bad storms and blackouts. Forget that Queensland gets hit with cyclones all the time and the whole state grid doesn’t break. Some greenies are also raging against “the politicization” of the storms. Yes, Indeedy. Go tell that to Will Steffen.

We are not being told the whole story. We do know that South Australia has the highest emphasis on renewables in the world. It also has a fragile electricity network, and wild price spikes to boot. (Coincidence?) The death of a few transmission towers should not knock out a whole state, nor should it take so long to recover from. The storm struck worst north of Adelaide near Port Augusta but the juicy interconnector from Victoria runs in from the south, and goes right up past Adelaide and most of the population. Why couldn’t the broken parts of the system be isolated?

Digging around I find ominous warnings that while the lightning and winds probably caused the blackout, the state of the South Australian grid appeared to be teetering on the brink, without enough reserve, or without well planned protection mechanisms to cope with an inherently unstable system.  The excess of wind power made the system more fragile, and also made it harder to restore. There appear to be three reasons (at least) that excessive wind power is less fun, more costly, and golly, but if windmills don’t stop storms, why buy those expensive electrons?

1. Wind power adds instability of the system – not only does it ramp up and down frequently on an hourly scale, but it’s harder to mesh at the cycles per second scale too. This is about maintaining the “frequency” of the system (in Australia’s case thats 50Hz). Windpower is a type of energy that doesn’t easily synchronize with the 50Hz frequency (or any stable frequency). Other generators that have turbines that spin at regular speeds do (coal, gas, biomass, and hydro). They are easy to synchronize.

The frequency thing is critical — think of AC — Alternating Current — as being a push-pull of electrons 50 times a second. If any source of electricity joins the grid out of phase or at any other frequency, like say 49*, the waves of electrons are going to get out of synch fairly quickly. And we’d get horrible interference patterns of spikes and dips. This is a point where systems have to shut down (in seconds) to protect everything. This is an intrinsic design vulnerability in a system which prioritizes renewables over “thermal” energy.

*UPDATE: Thanks to Tomomason and Analytik and some great comments below, I now know that the frequency varies a little as load and supply ebb from 49.85 – 50.15 (See also the subthread by co2isnotevil at #5). These tiny variations are used as feedback for plant operators to adjust their operation. Read both subthreads for more information. This is why the whole grid is so much more stable with a dominant supply from synchronous turbines (ie thermal, biomass or hydro).

2. Wind power can’t be used to reboot the system and SA was getting warnings about that too.

Commenter Andrew W at WattClarity:

“ the ElectraNet boss on radio this morning mentioned that wind generated electricity cannot be used for ‘black start’ processes, that they need to get full control of load and frequency before introducing wind..

To do a Black Start (cranking up the whole grid from nothing) we need hydro, or thermal, but wind power is not much use. InDaily reports that not only is wind not much use, but that SA electricity wasn’t prepared with extra fuel at the gas generators. (It’s amazing they got things running again at all really!)

Did SA’s mix of generation lead to a delay in re-booting the system?

[InDaily] A report on South Australia’s electricity system, published by AEMO last month, warned that there was a limited capacity to reboot the state’s electricity system in the event of a total blackout.

“There is a limited pool of strategically-located SRAS (system restart ancillary services) in South Australia to meet the current standard,” the report says.

“This indicates reliance on a single fuel source for all generation involved in the system restoration process in South Australia.

“Many of these gas-powered generating units do not have dedicated fuel storage facilities, exposing South Australia to further risk if there was a gas supply interruption during system restoration.”

 

3. Wind Turbines shut suddenly at high speeds. There is a possibility that a sudden shut down can happen  when turbines are going full tilt in storm force winds hit “danger limits”:

This is speculative –  There are suggestions that a lot of wind turbines were powered up at “high-wind, storm-velocity” levels and were generating high wattages when they reached their shut down limits and suddenly switched off. That would cause a major drop in the system. This type of failure would belong in the “census” night silly management category. Surely it could not be so? Surely, also, this could be overcome if wind turbines were shut in a staged sequence when known high wind incidents were coming. I want more data.

 StopTheseThings explains both the first and third problems: Another Statewide Blackout: South Australia’s Wind Power Disaster Continues. The post on WattClarity supports the first one with a lot of detail. No hint of the third though. Both sites were very useful. The commenters too.

What wind-turbines poorly produce,
Is unstable, unsound and diffuse,
As they can’t meet demand,
Or high winds withstand,
They’re pointless, defunct and no use.

–Ruairi

An Unstable System

StopThese Things tells us that they hear that SA grid managers are running the system at 220V, not 230V (like the rest of Australia) in order to cope with the fluxes from wind power. It would be good to get confirmation of that. In November 2015 after a large blackout in South Australia, StopTheseThings predicted that after the coal plant was shut in April 2016, there would be statewide blackouts:

It’s also to be borne in mind that these 110,000 homes and businesses were plunged into darkness at a time when SA’s Northern and Playford coal-fired plants at Port Augusta (with a combined capacity of 784 MW) were still happily chugging away.

The owner of Port Augusta’s plants, Alinta has already signalled that it will close them in April 2016, due to the market distortions caused by the massive subsidies to wind power set up under the Large-Scale RET. If it does, South Australians can expect statewide blackouts with the kind of regularity that you’d be hard pressed to find outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

There was an August warning from AEMO that SA can’t cope with “contingencies”:

An ominous hint here on August 10th from the AEMO, reported on a dedicated electricity blog WattClarity. At the time SA faced a different threat (a planned outage in a Victorian supply). The AEMO was warning that SA doesn’t have enough local supplies to cope with any interruption:

Another day where LOR2 notice issued for SA – what does it mean?”

[Paul McArdle August 10th] In shorthand, this means that if something happens (like the critical imports from Victoria tripping – a low probability event, but still a credible one, and so one AEMO needs to plan for) then South Australia would not have enough local supplies that could be dispatched in time to keep the SA system stable, so portion of SA load would be turned off (i.e. some lights would go out) to keep the broader system in South Australia online.

To sum up my understanding of some of the factors:

1) Plenty of wind in South Australia currently, making it uneconomic to run much thermal plant currently (especially with today’s gas price still $7.89/GJ at the Adelaide hub);

2) This is especially the case as the Heywood link constrained to flow west currently (i.e. South Australia can’t export its “economically surplus” wind), driving prices in South Australia lower;

3) Not much thermal plant running, so not as much capability to ramp up production in South Australia if needed, hence the LOR2 notice.

Paul McArdle goes on to point out (or quote someone, it’s not clear) that the AEMO arranged to pay some providers to carry spare capacity in case of a contingency:

My layman’s explanation of “Raise Regulation” FCAS is that it has to do with some generators agreeing with AEMO (in return for some small compensation) to keep a bit of “spare” capacity in reserve (i.e. not have it dispatched in the energy market), ready to give the system a (very quick) extra kick should the system suddenly slow below 3000rpm. This (frequency drop) would be what would happen in South Australia at these points in time shown if:
(a) the interconnector was to trip or
(b) some generator (wind, or gas) in SA was to trip.

Looks like we got (a) and (b).

So South Australia was already running a riskier system, with warnings that an incident could push the system over.

 

From WattClarity – a video on the complex South Australian situation unfolding on Wednesday.

This ten minute vid is for serious electricity-grid nerds. First it explains parts of the dashboard then they roll forward in 5 minute blocks through the day (you get a real sense of just how dynamic the grid is. What a headache to manage!) Helpfully the silent video has a few notes as it goes, but the central theme for me was how normal it appeared until it fell over in the space of five minutes. The lightning struck at 4:18, the “blackout” official notice was issued at 4:21, so this dashboard in the video shows normal at 4:20 and “black” by 4:25 (at 8:40 mins). The AEMO reported that 1900Mw was shed, and all supply and load in SA was lost. The interstate interconnectors are shown at “zero” by 4:30. It’s all over. Lights are off everywhere. People lie on dark operating tables, trains stop, lifts jam. Nearly 2 million people stop what they are doing.

_________________________________

Does the sudden shut down of  high speed wind turbines add to the problem?

The  StopTheseThings  Another Statewide Blackout: South Australia’s Wind Power Disaster Continues.

STT lays the blame on the shifting surges in wind generation and the rapid shutdown of wind turbines. I’m not convinced, but it’s an interesting thesis that I’d like more information on. One of the things about wind power is that they have automatic shut offs at high wind speeds. Potentially they can be generating high levels of energy when suddenly they cut off — and that could destabilize the system. Did this happen (if it didn’t, could it?) STT has a lot of discussion, in the post and after it and on connected posts. I’d like to see a detailed graph of what happened from 4pm – 4:30, minute by minute.

Commenter Jackie Rovensky says

“We were all aware of the weather conditions being forecast, but no one in the energy or wind industry thought to start shutting the turbines down or off in a controlled gradual process to prevent a catastrophic effect of a sudden loss of energy in the system. Combined with this was apparently the Gas plant being hit by lightening. Why did the wind industry NOT take precautions, why did they just keep operating as hard as they could – was it because they were in competition with each other wanting to make as much money as they could during this period. How much damage was done to the Gas plant or was there any damage? No one has been asked that question by the media and our insipid Premier of course would not offer such information even if he new it.”

A few points about this graph. It does show a spectacular fall off. The time is WA time (I assume because I downloaded it). The AEMO said that lightning struck at 4:18 AEST. You can play with this graph on the Aneroid Site, including seeing individual wind farms and their production. There is not enough detail in the graph though on the scale of “the five minutes that matter”. The jaggies leading up to the crash are impressive but there are jaggies on other days I searched randomly like Sept 26, and Sept 24.

South Australia, Electricity, Wind Supplies,Graph.  Blackout Sept 29. 2016.

Thanks to commenters here for their helpful suggestions and links. Jaymez, your working theory was right.

Last word goes to  TdeF     September 29, 2016 at 2:03 am

The government is responsible for energy security, not the power companies or the electricity market or Victoria or someone else. This demolition job done on South Australia’s previously reliable and adequate power supplies should see the resignation of the Premier who has presided over this devastating nonsense at huge expense. Is this why South Australia gets twice the GST of WA? A desalination plant no one ever needed? Total blackouts? No gain whatsoever for the people of South Australia in this Green energy and windmill nonsense. How are the people of South Australia better off in any way? It is an utter disgrace. Hot summers and stormy days come and go but destroying a state’s infrastructure for a political agenda is an utter disgrace and a betrayal of the very purpose of a government. Wetherill should accept his responsibility for this utter mess and resign.

Freaky weather month: While there are storms on the East Coast, In the next 24 hours Perth may register its coldest September on record (or things might be a tiny bit warmer than in September 1906. Did coal burning cause that cold spell?) Thanks to Chris Gillham for tracking this exciting race so closely. More on that tomorrow.

BACKGROUND to the SA Electricity crisis (all the links).

People saw The South Australian black out coming. There were warnings that the dominance of renewables made it vulnerable. Then when it came, it all fell over in a few seconds — read the gruesome details of how fast a grid collapses: Three towers, six windfarms and 12 seconds to disaster. Ultimately the 40% renewable SA grid is crippled by complexity.   The AEMO Report blames renewables: The SA Blackout was due to lack of “synchronous inertia”.  The early estimates suggest the blackout costs South Australia at least $367m, plus their normal electricity is twice the price, and there are reserve shortfalls coming in January 2018 (pray for a cool summer). Welcome to the future of unreliable electricity: Rolling blackouts ordered in SA in 40C heat. And  more bad luck for South Australia, yet another blackout, 300 powerlines down, 125,000 homes cut off.  See all the posts on and  .

 

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314 comments to The South Australian black out — A grid on the edge. There were warnings that renewables made it vulnerable

  • #
    Stephen Richards

    Really interesting video. It shows just what a nightmare grid management has become. A german or UK version would be really interesting.

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      Rud Istvan

      Euan Mearns blog Energy Matters has links to historical and real time UK grid monotoring including wind. It is a sidebar tool.

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      • #
        ivan

        You can see all the details at http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ in detail. There is even a link to display what the French grid is doing.

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          tom0mason

          Hovering over each of the dial calls-up a caption.

          The one for grid frequency says –

          Frequency: Grid frequency is controlled to be exactly 50Hz on average, but varies slightly. A lower frequency corresponds to a higher potential demand than actual generating capacity: by allowing the frequency and voltage to go lower, the demand is reduced slightly to keep the balance, and vice versa.

          This is normal in most western national grids and why grid connected generator are not locked to an absolute fixed frequency. Variation on this dial is +/-0.5Hz although the long term is much less than this. This variation allows flexibility in matching predicted demand to current generation.

          I have only found a 2011 specification for Australia main supplies and this says –

          3.2 Frequency of Supply
          Frequency of supply is a measure of the rate in cycles per second (Hertz) at which the alternating voltage and current oscillate between peak forward and reverse values.

          The nominal frequency of the supply of electricity through Essential Energy’s distribution system is 50 Hz (Hertz).

          Essential Energy does not control the frequency of supply and cannot warrant that the frequency will comply with any standard. The frequency is maintained automatically by the generators, and provided that there is a balance between generation and load, the
          frequency remains stable at or very close to 50 Hz.

          The ‘normal operating frequency band’ as provided by the National Electricity Rules is set at 49.85 Hz to 50.15 Hz. Excursions outside these levels will occur from time to time and in rare events the supply may be interrupted if the frequency deviates excessively.

          Most customer’s equipment will be unaffected by frequency variations unless widespread supply interruptions occur because of excessive sustained frequency variations on the grid.

          Essential Energy’s objective is to have frequency excursions, that Essential Energy becomes aware of, that are outside the standard provided by the National Electricity Rules reported
          to AEMO.

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          • #
            Analitik

            Frequency: Grid frequency is controlled to be exactly 50Hz on average, but varies slightly. A lower frequency corresponds to a higher potential demand than actual generating capacity: by allowing the frequency and voltage to go lower, the demand is reduced slightly to keep the balance, and vice versa

            Sort of. The plant operators of synchronous generators have no idea of the demand so the grid frequency is their proxy. The basis is simple: the generators produce a signal at a reference voltage and the current drawn determines the power delivered (Voltage x Active Current = Real Power).

            Let’s look at it from a single generator perspective to simplify the load consequences. The generator is driven at a specific frequency with a specific output voltage and the current being drawn matches the load required (demand) – this requires a drive power of V x A. Now if demand increases, the active currents (3-phase) drawn from the generator increase making the generator slow (since the drive power hasn’t changed) down so the operators and their systems know to increase fuelling to increase the drive power the generator back up the the reference voltage. If the demand decreases, the active currents decrease, then the generator will speed up and the drive power must be reduced.

            It is impossible for the frequency to be fixed – there is some small load reduction feedback with the frequency reduction but only for some types of load (eg induction motors).

            With a real grid, you have multiple generators which complicates things as they all slow down or speed up with varying demand but the amount and rate of frequency change is limited before some will fall out of phase and then run at different frequencies where they cannot deliver any power to the grid.

            You also have reactive loads from induction motors and some electronic devices that draw current at a different phase to the voltage so the total current draw is not proportional to the real power. This is what causes voltage variations and why synchronous condensers and capacitor banks are needed to counter the reactive draw prior to the power stations (else you waste generation capacity due to the heating caused by the reactive current flows).

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            • #

              Thank you. Very useful comments from Tom and Analitik! Post Updated. Link added to point at co2isnotevil subthread too. Many very informative comments here today.

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              • #

                Please, those of you who “get” electricity grids — do us a favour and write up the exact questions and graphs you want journalists to ask those in charge of the SA grid. What do we need to know to understand why this happened and how to prevent, and what kinds of costs are added by making a grid “wind proof”.

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              • #
                RobK

                Thanks for the forum Jo,
                My question would be: how is it that major transmission pilons are blown over…and in multiple locations? These things cost around half a million dollars each and should withstand exceptional weather. I wonder if the rush to install infrastructure, incentivized by the regulator at a guaranteed return of some 10%p.a.hasn’t lead to some dodgy work over the past decade or so.

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              • #
                oeman50

                BTW, Jo, shutting down a turbine when it could go over its maximum speed is a protective feature that is on ALL rotating generators attached to the grid, even steam and gas turbines. I do not know that is what happened in this case with the wind turbines, but it is very plausible.

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            • #

              Just a little bit of (perhaps even uniformed) comment from me here

              With a real grid, you have multiple generators which complicates things as they all slow down or speed up with varying demand but the amount and rate of frequency change is limited before some will fall out of phase and then run at different frequencies where they cannot deliver any power to the grid.

              Prior to wind power, there were these huge monsters at those large scale coal fired plants, and here I’ll just mention the one I always do, Bayswater.

              Bayswater has four units each of 660MW and until you actually see a generator (alternator really) of that size, you have no real understanding of what is happening here.

              The rotating part of each unit is the Rotor, (naturally) and that could weigh anything up to 800 plus tons on some of the monsters and even more. That huge weight must rotate, exactly, at 3000RPM, which gives us our 50Hertz (50 cycles per second, or 3000RPM) Snap your fingers and then snap them again immediately, 50 rotations per snap of that huge weight.

              So, in the early days, monsters like this all over the place, supplying the ….. BASE LOAD, two words.

              When more power was demanded, smaller units, usually gas fired ran up and supplied, because they can do it fast. Less weight to turn over, and they get there quicker.

              They had this huge frequency reference and before they came on line, the frequency was perfectly matched (synchronised) to the reference before the ‘switch was flicked’ (figuratively speaking) to bring them onto the grid.

              Along comes wind, and now you have added (and I’ll use South Australia as an example here) 600 plus littlies, all coming on line and dropping off line who knows when, whereas before it was all perfectly controlled, more power more units and they knew exactly when.

              Then thousands perhaps even tens of thousands or more little baby household Inverters for rooftop solar.

              Now try and imagine how the grid operators must watch like eagles every second, computerised now down to the tiniest fractions of seconds.

              The grid is nowhere near as stable as it once was ….. because now there are hundreds and hundreds of units instead of maybe 20 or 30 of them.

              South Australia took away all its huge units, those ancient coal fired units, allowed to go unreplaced until old age made them unviable to operate, (not closing BECAUSE wind power made them unviable, but because they were so d@mned old) and now had only gas fired units, the traditionally smaller units, and in a cascading failure, as in the 2003 failure in NE U.S.A. (see my comment on the earlier Thread of Joanne’s) if there are only one perhaps two smaller gas units operating, they automatically drop off line, as also does (did) the Heywood Interconnector, and you can have all the wind you like, but with nothing to reference to, then all those wind towers, still spinning merrily away, they too will be disconnected from the grid as well.

              Oh, and in a blackout, rooftop solar power is also isolated from the grid as well, because of the term ‘Islanding’.

              Now watch me get picked to pieces here.

              Tony.

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              • #
                OriginalSteve

                Hi Tony, I agree with everything said here…

                One benefit of being a B.Eng ( Elec ) myself is a bit of a deeper understanding of this stuff. I agree specifically with the frequency synch – I remember watching even small gen units come on line and watching the chuntering as it struggled to hold 50Hz sync…and drop out when it got all too much.

                I also agree that having a wide variation in power sources and how a large synch/phase difference equates ultimately to a large voltage difference between two sources is a significant headache.

                I guess kind of imagine trying to herd a whole bunch of cats with a wildly disparate range of power sources, and you can imagine how hard it is to maintain a solid 50Hz reference on the grid….and stability.

                In a way, the green policies have basically deliberately sabotaged the grid….but that has always beentheir aim – taking us back to the earth-worshipping style stone age….

                Now hear this – the powers that be never do this stuff unless its tested on a small scale FIRST. As such, SA is a test.

                This is also why I made sure my elderly parents have self contained solar on their roof….nuff said.

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                Analitik

                Anton, if you can be bothered, please explain this to crakar24. I’m out.

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              • #

                Wind was generating about 1GW until the towers collapsed like wet cardboard.

                Privatisation, cost cutting, corner cutting caused the blackout.

                I was in the lower north of SA on Wednesday, experienced the weather etc.

                A nuke plant somewhere near Pt Augusta would be good, would allow more coal fired generators to be closed.

                The “perfect storm” on Wednesday was called a “fifty year storm” but we have had three of those since 1964. If we do not reduce emissions then 50 year storms will happen every five years.

                Vic & SA have privatised power and so are vulnerable to storms, NSW is engaged in the [snip] process of privatising power, more states will have MAJOR blackouts as AGW continues to put more energy and more moisture into the atmosphere and the networks become less robust due to the cost cutting consequent on privatisation.

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              • #
                oeman50

                No pieces here, Tony. You have a good understanding. Most people do not understand how much active intervention a grid needs to even function, much less remain stable. In the US, a computer model looks at the status of every transmission line, every breaker, every generator and more. Then every 15 minutes, one-by-one, it assumes each piece of equipment is out of service and looks to see if the grid remains in service due to those single failures. If they find one situation that does, they reconfigure the grid so the failure will not happen. Every 15 minutes. It’s mind boggling.

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              • #
                Roy Hogue

                Tony,

                I don’t have even half the background you have and yet I would not only not pick you to pieces, I would complement you on an excellent expose of the problem.

                Every time the load changes the grid must adjust for it quickly or go into a bad state leading to failure. Thankfully the overall demand civilization makes on our power systems only changes relatively slowly. Otherwise I think we would never have been able to construct the systems we have where multiple generators feed into a common system and have to be kept fanatically in phase or go down. In the states the 60 Hz power line is so stable at 60 Hz that synchronous clocks can run for literally years without enough drift to justify adjusting the time. I suspect the same is true of Australia’s 50 Hz systems.

                I don’t know how the frequency standard is generated but it’s as good as it gets except perhaps for NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) atomic clocks.

                The problems generated by loss of a power station are so great that Edison will send men up their towers to rescue a nitwit who climbed up where he shouldn’t have gone without even trying to shut down the plant feeding the power line where the incident happened. *** I’m told that shutting down a plant like that takes a long time to shift the load elsewhere and then shut down the generators. I don’t envy those who go up on those towers or even hang from the cables to earn their living. When you’re near or touching 500 kV on up to possibly a MV you depend on never making a mistake and your insulation never having the slightest pinhole or crack. Actually I don’t envy anyone going up a tower or a pole where it’s only a few kV.

                I hate to repeat myself but the public doesn’t understand the problems involved in keeping their lights from going out.

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                GD

                Thanks, Tony, for that succinct and accessible explanation suitable for laymen like me. If only the media published information like this rather than Greens Adam Bandt’s assertion that we need more renewable energy to avert such storms in the future.

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              • #
                Roy Hogue

                *** That incident happened near where I live. I drive under the lines across the freeway frequently. The insulators are 14 feet long and I’m told that any of the 3 cables can throw an arc 11 feet to ground or to someone who gets a little too close. I have no clue about what voltage it takes to throw an 11 foot arc at 60 Hz. But it’s not something to take lightly nor is it anything to take for granted.

                50

              • #
                Kneel

                “…until you actually see a generator (alternator really) of that size, you have no real understanding…”

                Indeed. For those who have never seen one up close, you can get an idea of the scale involved in a power station this size by looking closely at the cooling towers – these are the tapered concrete towers that emit huge volumes of water vapour (as an aside, less than 10% of the water actually escapes the top, the rest condenses on the inside of the tower) and are typically shown on TV shots. Have a close look at the bottom – there is a zig-zag structure. This is where air enters the cooling tower. These are 5m or so high (just the zig-zag bit). Now compare this to the size of the building – typically, as Bayswater (or for those on NSW central coast, Eraring) 4 x boiler, generator etc, nominally 660MW each, can be run to 990MW each with doubled maintenance. The actual generator is tiny on this scale – it’s mostly boiler and fueling infrastructure. Tonnes of coal an hour needs to be crushed to fine powder and blown into the boiler with high pressure air. You need 100MW+ to start a single 660MW generator from cold, as well as burning many thousands of litres of diesel to get the boiler hot enough to burn coal powder. At Eraring, the cooling water is pulled from Lake Macquarie by a set of 8 pumps (not all run at once), each pump is 6MW and each pump is fed by a pipe you could drive a small car through.

                80

              • #

                Roy mentions this, and I want to relate something which happened to me in the mid 1970s, and it’s probably a little risque, so please forgive me, but at the time it was just so damned funny.

                In the states the 60 Hz power line is so stable at 60 Hz…..

                I was still a lowly Electrical Tradesman at 77 Squadron, and I was studying at the Base Library at Williamtown, and you were not allowed to withdraw reference books, just read them in the Library and take notes if you wanted to.

                The Officer in charge of the library was a Flight Lieutenant Education Officer, and she would occasionally come out and chat with me, because seriously, no one ever visited the Library, so any visitor at all was out of the ordinary. There was no real interaction because of the very strict Officer/Airman fraternisation rules, which if broken, might result in both of you being chucked out of the RAAF, so it was strictly on the basis that she could call me (well, whatever she wanted to) Tony, and I could call her M’aam.

                After a few weeks, and knowing that I was an electrical tradesman, she asked if I could change electrical plugs to fit wall sockets. I said yes but that I would need to get a plug, and some basic tools to do the job, just a small cabinet makers screwdriver, sidecutters and a Stanley Knife, which I brought with me next time I visited.

                She gave me the box with the item in it, something I had never seen or in fact even heard of, a Hitachi Magic Wand.

                I asked her where she got it from, because the plug was unfamiliar, and she told me she got it on a trip to the U.S. where they had been selling the things since the late 60s based on the principle of a muscle relaxant. I looked at the instructions sheet which had the electrical data written on it, made for U.S. AC supply power of 115 Volts at 60Hz, and I told her that it wouldn’t work here in Australia, as we had 240 Volts at 50Hz, so I could change the plug, but it still wouldn’t work.

                She thanked me, and that was that.

                It was so difficult to keep a straight face.

                Tony.

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              • #
                Roy Hogue

                Tony,

                Knowing you even a little I’m sure you were the perfect gentleman.

                30

              • #
                Roy Hogue

                Kneel,

                Way back when I was a Boy Scout I did get a tour of a large Los Angeles gas fired plant, courtesy of one of the fathers who was an engineer working on the project. He took me on a guided tour just before the plant went operational.

                His part of the responsibility was the instrumentation monitoring the boiler, which he took great pride in showing me. The boiler was a huge structure and very impressive all by itself.

                After the boiler tour we went all around the place with him explaining the cooling towers, the generators, the transformers that stepped up the voltage for transmission and just about everything in sight. The generators were in place at the time but enclosed in protective housings so all I could see was the general shape of the generator inside. They were big on the same scale as the boiler.

                Since the plant wasn’t in operation at the time we could go just about anywhere and we did just that.

                I have no idea what that plant’s capacity was since I didn’t know what questions to ask. But it certainly did impress a young teenager.

                30

              • #
                Mark D.

                Tony, Tony, I’m sure you might have done better than that?

                First, that Magic Wand might have worked for a while (long enough) at 240?

                Second, you could have used two light bulbs in series, tapping the connection in between the two bulbs would have provided about half the voltage. The 50hz may just have provided a bit more magic for the, ahem, lonely girl. She would have only had to explain to her neighbors about the bright lights emanating from her room……..

                20

              • #

                Mark D.

                When I got back to my room, I actually toyed (sorry, couldn’t help myself) with the idea of getting her a Step Up Transformer, but that wouldn’t have got around the Frequency thing, and anyway stepping up the voltage means less current by the same ratio, so not all that good for the electric motor I guess. Then there would be the heat factor for the Transformer.

                Well, at least I tried.

                Neighbours in the Female Officers Quarters????

                One of life’s humourous moments.

                Tony.

                40

              • #
                Roy Hogue

                Guys,

                That “Magic Wand” is still sold for general massage and I’m told that it does a good job on sore stiff muscles. So maybe we’re reading too much into the whole thing? ;-)

                20

              • #
                Duster

                I worked on an archaeological project in Crimea – Sebastopol. Coming from the US, we carried various electrical and electronic gear geared to US power supplies – 120-140 Volts at 60 Hz, which lead to some interesting times in Ukranian customs. However, once in country, we set up our lab and computer systems. We came prepared with a huge number of adapters that could allow our gear to run on Russian/Ukranian power. What we were not prepared for was the wild swings in the power supply which could spike up to 260 V and then just as abruptly drop to 180 or so. We got used to the pop, crackle and poof of adaptors frying during a surge. It put an entirely new slant on the old computer aphorism – “save often.” The Russian director of the museum at the site where we were working went through three refrigerators in his office in five weeks due to burned out motors.

                30

            • #
              KenW

              ANALITIC, Hey! That sounds just like how James Watt used a centrifugal governor to regulate his steam engines. I bet that’s where they got it from!

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifugal_governor

              Thanks for the great explanation.

              20

    • #
      Kratoklastes

      I haven’t seen a UK or German control room, but when The Lovely was seconded to a law firm in Paris in 2006 we went to Norway for a meeting of the European Energy Lawyers’ Association, and part of the gig was a trip to the StatNett control rooms.

      It was pretty fascinating (although mostly I remember being hung over, and wanting one of their GIANT screens as my TV and computer monitor); they are linked to Sweden, Russia, and a bunch of other countries – although this was before large-scale integration of massively-subsidised ‘renewable’ charlatanry.

      90

  • #
    tom0mason

    The wonder of Harmony or Just Noise?

    The difference between having a few big generators on a grid with some backup, and having lots of easily de-synchronized windmills and little back-up?
    It is like having the four well trained tenors singing in joyous harmony (and two more tenors as back-up just in case).
    The other case is just a bar-room of semi-drunk individuals singing as an undirected choir, with ten weak voices swaying uneasily at bar as back-up.

    Which does SA prefer — Harmony or unstable noise?

    381

    • #
      Olaf Koenders

      Holland gave up on wind power generations ago. Wheat processing into flour would have been as important as electrickery is for us today.

      151

      • #
        Greg Cavanagh

        While I’m sure wheat was ground using the windmills. I’m more confident that Holland was made famous for building sea walls and keeping the water levels down via windmill pumps, which is rather ingenious if not very bold.

        Other countries used water wheels for grinding, which is also subject to longer term droughts or floods, but more resilient in the short term.

        I’ve also been reading history of Italy, it seems they used water wheels to pump billows for their iron ore smelters.

        111

        • #
          Olaf Koenders

          Good point about keeping water levels down below the dykes, but I wonder how they pumped it uphill and what sort of pipes they used. I’ve never bothered to study the subject, although I’m half Dutch.. ;)

          Water wheels are only useful near rivers where they can make an artificial dam and place the wheel below it. In any case, steam power via coal and oil made production far more reliable.

          Save the whales – burn fossil fuels.. :)

          90

          • #
            Greg Cavanagh

            Australian farmers used windmills to pump water out of the ground to fill tanks, which then had a gravity feed to nearby troughs to feed cattle and sheep. No Australian landscape is complete without an old windmill. The pumps were a simple vertical lift type. Very likely taken directly from the Dutch models.

            40

    • #
      GD

      It is like having the four well-trained tenors singing in joyous harmony .. or a bar-room of semi-drunk individuals singing as an undirected choir

      Now there’s an analogy I do understand :)

      70

  • #
    Jaymez

    No modern power grid should crash so extensively for so long. There is something wrong with the grid architecture or maintenance and that will be directly related to trying to work with an expensive, inefficient and highly variable power source from wind farms.

    The one factor we can confidently rule out of responsibility for this debacle is atmospheric CO2 content.

    No doubt the South Australian government will quickly have their hands out for more federal money to shore up this system. While literally and figuratively leaving the population in the dark.

    501

    • #
      ivan

      I doubt that there is anything physically wrong with the grid other than having more than 15% of unreliable renewables hooked into it and not having enough reliable real power stations supplying base load.

      Once you get beyond about 15% you get instability induced into the grid by the fluctuating supply which has to be balanced somehow. The people holding the balance on that grid all deserve medals.

      421

      • #

        The question is, how long will it take for the truth to get out? Not the SA Premier’s bluster.

        281

        • #
          Olaf Koenders

          Truth?

          Truth is what is believed to be true. Facts are different and what we need.

          Right now, it’s hilarious watching the blame game – all those somewhat responsible for the blackout calling it a natural event, with Will Steffen blubbering about in the wings still trying to blame it on Man. Watch this space.

          282

      • #
        tom0mason

        ivan,

        If the grid protection was still set-up for the coal generators etc, and not reconfigured for the variable nature of large wind derived power then this kind of failure would have happened at any time.

        Reconfiguring/upgrading these systems is a complex process.
        How do you set-up a graded protection system for such a grid with variable generation and load demand?

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Graded protection is a method of protection whereby the fault is isolated from the grid(disconnected), as close to the failure as possible. Each level of protection operates at higher and higher trip values the closer it gets to the main (backbone) of the grid.
        It should be designed and maintained to minimize general disruption, as much as possible, and in a manner to safely maintain service to as many customers as possible (even under fault conditions).
        Graded protection also designed to ensure essential services are the maintain as much as possible.

        111

    • #
      Dennis

      Before the storm SA was begging for Commonwealth money to pay for a new interconnector to the NSW electricity grid.

      In other words the SA Labor Government is well aware of the critical position of electricity supplies in their state.

      271

      • #
        mark

        I suspect that this mob are over a barrel with having to pay for peak gas pricing to cover any fluctuations in the renewable generation profile. The third interconnect? Is NSW planning on coal fired west of the Liverpool plain? Just to supply SA?

        Looking at that video of the power profile. One interconnector was running at 100% the dc connection was fluctuating between 18 and 180Mw depending on the wind load. It would appear the SA system plays the interconnector against the variability of wind power. The states gas generators appear only to run to cover base load. The main line that collapsed was in the north. Above or below the Murrayland DC connector? The finger will point at what system caused the phase/frequency excursion causing the cascade fail. It would appear both interconnects were supplying into the grid after the black shutdown…problem.elsewhere?

        150

        • #

          There seems to be something wrong with the peak pricing this now http://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Data-dashboard#price-demand (1.53pm 30Sep) shows a negative price (-$364/MWhr). It would be a good idea if wind farms did pay the grid for power they contracted to supply but could not. However, I do not think they are required to do that. So it looks like they are paying to supply the grid for power they have in surplus because for some reason such as safety they want to keep producing. Another thought is that they are taking in power instead of exporting and paying. In the longer term the only way they can keep operating while paying for exporting is due to subsidies. Just think that state and Federal taxes are paying to keep these unreliable machines operating.

          70

          • #

            Seem as though the price -demand for SA has been suspended (now at 5.25PM) I wonder about the high negative values, well above the subsidies (I believe $80/MWhr). Maybe they are buying power at peak prices and exporting that. Or the whole system is in an accounting mess.

            30

        • #
          Kneel

          “Is NSW planning on coal fired west of the Liverpool plain? Just to supply SA?”

          Pfft! I saw the whole load for SA was just over 1GW. NSW could supply at least half this by turning off Tomago aluminium smelter…

          30

        • #
          RB

          The lines came down just outside Snowtown. No barrel jokes, please.

          20

      • #
        Ian George

        First SA want a majority of the water from the Murray Darling system. Now it wants our electricity. Sheeeh!

        30

    • #
      bobl

      Yes Jaymez,
      I have said this before (Yesterday) whatever the challenges in a properly designed system there should be nothing short of a nuclear weapon that could lack out an entire state. The excuses don’t matter – this should not be able to happen.

      This grid has been designed by politicians instead of engineers.

      260

    • #
      jorgekafkazar

      No doubt the South Australian government will quickly have their hands out for more federal money to shore up this system.

      Corrected version:

      No doubt the South Australian government will quickly have their hands out for more federal money to shore screw up this system.

      170

    • #
      Analitik

      No modern power grid should crash so extensively for so long.

      Actually, I’m very surprised by the speed of the recovery. ElectraNet have done a stellar job in restoring power, starting just 3 hours after the event.

      I suspect they had the islanding fully planned and were lucky that the major trip event took place outside Adelaide rather than within the urban grid. I had expected a week for Adelaide alone to be restored but I also expected the collapse to be in the summer.

      112

      • #
        crakar24

        more bs, some parts of the state waited for16 hours to get power back, some parts of the state still dont have power, roxby downs…..you know where that big kickass mine is will be without power for up to two weeks.

        Please stop bombing this thread with uneducated, opinioniated carp

        26

        • #
          shannon

          I dont know what the people of SA are complaining about ….
          2015 major storm in the Hunter region had 1000′s of people with no power for up to 2 weeks.
          My experience was for 6 days …only positive for my family was a large hot water tank, solar heated
          we ran out of hot water ..just as the fallen lines were repaired..!!

          30

        • #

          http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/tory-shepherd-federal-government-using-sa-blackout-to-prod-debate-over-renewable-energy/news-story/fb756bf99f54d7beba2c5212888122e8
          Comment at Adelaide Advertiser
          BruceM
          6 hours ago

          At last some people like Kevin and Ray are telling you the truth. In a past life I was involved in the commissioning of the inter-connector and so have some understanding how the power system works. Of Course the AEMO are correct in saying that the cause of the start of the blackout was the transmission lines being toppled. If we had sufficient base load, i.e. Torrens Island and Pt Augusta fully functional and running and not relying on the inter-connector and very small (by comparison) gas generators and even smaller wind turbines (remember the sun was not producing solar with it raining) this event probably would not have happened. In fact many years ago, before the advent of the inter-connector and wind power, towers were blown over – no blackout. Why do we now rely on the inter-connector> Because subsidised wind power put the Pt Augusta power station out of action and mothballed Pelican Pt. Yes, wind power is a contributing factor without sufficient base load to make the system stable. Tory you should seek the advice of a system electrical engineer before you start misleading the public.

          41

    • #
      Andrew McRae

      Jo says: “Jaymez, your working theory was right.”

      Not so fast, Judge Jo! A five minute quantum in the data shown in the ElectraNet video is large enough for it to be unclear as to whether the subsidy farms switched off first or whether the wind knocked over the lines first. There is one final test of confirmation to be done. And for this we must leave the comfort of our critiquing armchairs and go to the scene of the crime.

      Inspect the ground all around the felled pylons and the point between a felled pylon and its nearest neighbour where the line touched the ground first as it fell. If you find scorch marks, then Jaymez is wrong. If Jaymez is right, there will be no scorch marks of a potential difference suddenly finding ground because the power was gone before the line fell.

      30

      • #

        Follow the subthread at the link — Jaymez said:

        My working theory is that it may be because they have to accommodate the wind farm network variability and clearly haven’t built in fail safe’s for when something like this happens.

        Really if the main damage was caused in and around Port Augusta, there is no reason why metropolitan Adelaide should be affected, …

        That’s what I was referring too. He wrote that on the night of Weds — early days. Some blamed wind-power (SST). Others blamed fallen towers (SA Gov). That night my sense was the same as Jaymez’s working theory. That a renewables system wouldn’t cope with fallen towers as easily as a thermal system would.

        Obviously we need a lot more data at this point about what happened on a second by second basis after 4:15pm. Where and when did the towers fall? When and where did wind shut down.

        61

        • #
          Andrew McRae

          I had read the comment you linked to, which it seems was not the comment defining his working theory. My proposed test was aimed at checking his earlier contention:
          “…the statewide blackout is being blamed on three transmission wires and 23 pylons being knocked out. That explanation doesn’t make sense“.

          It is proven that HV powerlines went down, so all that remained was to determine if they were carrying power up until falling. If they were not, the falling was not the cause, but that doesn’t tell us what was.

          Jaymez has since apologised for getting the time wrong, as the wind dropout co-incided with the blackout at the temporal resolution of that diagram when translated to the SA time zone. The alternative explanation (if he was wrong) moves back to a massive simultaneous auto-tethering.

          Also I’ve since realised my proposed test is not definitive as the rain may have washed away scorch marks. No Cub Scout detective badge for me today.

          The AEMO already reached the conclusion two days ago that toppled lines were the prime cause and that this should not have resulted in cascade:

          Initial investigations have identified the root cause of the event is likely to be the multiple loss of 275 kilovolt (kV) power lines during severe storm activity in the state.
          These transmission lines form part of the backbone of South Australia’s power system and support supply and generation north of Adelaide. The reason why a cascading failure of the remainder of the South Australia network occurred is still to be identified and is subject to further investigation.

          Oddly, that was published 7 hours before Jaymez’ first comment.

          What is still true is that the further the generator is from the consumer the greater the chance of a transmission failure. Without redundant links this will cause a cascade, because the main generator will not be inside the remaining grid consumer “island” and the reliable generators within that island cannot ramp up quickly enough (in less than a second) to fill the shortage of imports. But that is true regardless of whether the disconnected generators are reliable or unreliable. So the only merit his working theory might have had is that the best place for wind farms is typically a long way from the consumers, thus increasing the risk of islandisation and blackout.

          That is still insufficient to explain the SA failure because in Queensland several large power stations are placed proximal to their coal/gas source and not the consumers. For example the Darling Downs power station and Kogan Creek power stations need a line 200km long to take power to Brisbane or into NSW. See this old Powerlink planning document from 2008:

          Within Southern Queensland, most of the load is consumed in the growing south eastern corner, that is, Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. The amount of electricity consumed in this area considerably exceeds the amount produced locally by power stations in the area. Accordingly, large amounts of electricity must be transferred into South East Queensland from power stations in Central Queensland, Bulli and South West Queensland via Powerlink’s 275kV transmission network in order to meet peak demand requirements.

          So the other remote stations are still necessary for SEQ and provide a relevant counter-example. The distance is not the issue, so it is the freak weather or a lack of redundant transmission capacity. I can’t tell from the Powerlink diagram if the links have enough redundancy to tolerate a loss on one route. The Qld pylons look sturdier than the carnage seen in the SA photos, so possibly Powerlink relies on sturdiness and not redundancy.

          However the AEMO implied the flimsy pylon loss in SA should not have caused cascade, so they surely must have believed there was enough redundant capacity to Adelaide via a different route.

          Definitely more facts needed about the grid fragility, just as you say.

          30

          • #
            Graeme No.3

            Andy,
            the breaks were NORTH of the major population centres yet the blackout was for the ENTIRE State. Loss of some demand yet a collapse.

            11

          • #
            jim2

            If powered up, there will be melted metal somewhere. Pits in the lines, line supports, or pylons themselves. Those won’t wash away.

            10

          • #
            Andrew McRae

            Note for posterity…
            The latest AEMO report [ https://www.aemo.com.au/Media-Centre/-/media/BE174B1732CB4B3ABB74BD507664B270.ashx ]
            says that of the 22 transmission towers damaged in the storm, 15 of them were damaged after the blackout. The other line breaks were not enough to stop the whole system.
            So there is the level of fragility, it can survive about 5 line breaks in different places okay.

            The report summary and the media reportage say questions are still being asked as to why the wind farms dropped out. Whether it was because of turbine tethering specific to wind farms or some other generator condition hardly matters as the report has essentially highlighted the wind farms as the cause. Table 4 is a hoot and then there’s this:

            In the events leading up to SA region Black System, generation reduction occurred at six wind farms. There was no reduction in thermal generation.

            In the absence of evidence, I tried to give the wind farms the benefit of the doubt, but the evidence is now overwhelming. Line breaks didn’t do it, huge amounts of wind available, thermal kept generating, the wind farms committed suicide anyway. Looks like tethering, sounds like tethering, smells like tethering…

            00

  • #
    Ross

    I’m basically a capitalist , at heart, but I think electricity production/distribution and control should not have been deregulated, as it has been in many countries. It has lead to huge inefficiencies on top of all the stupid subsidised renewable schemes.
    In fact it has lead to many of the renewable schemes, which could possibly have worked, to be far less effective. NZ was one country where wind farms could have been quite effective if all the production was controlled by one entity –we have the major proportion of our electricity coming from hydro and if there was a central control of generation between the wind generators and hydro the wind part could be effective. But when it is run by a myriad of companies it is just a waste ( or an added cost on the consumer’s power bill)

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    • #

      Renewables have been forced onto energy providers and then propped up with taxpayer subsidies. Not one provider would have ventured into these schemes with their own money.

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    • #
      ianl8888

      And there we have it. Even in the face of complete, catastrophic failure (lack of Analitik’s “synchronous inertia”), the “wind is free” Pollyannas persist. This is why politicians correctly perceive real votes in being seen to be green.

      Perhaps the silver lining in this black start cloud may have been the beginning of public understanding of how a reliable 24/7/365 grid actually exists. The blame game, deliberately enabled by the treacherous MSM, will ensure that doesn’t happen.

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    • #

      Ross,

      Subsidizing is the opposite of deregulation and imposes strict regulatory requirements in order to qualify for the subsidies. This is what led to all the silly green schemes, not deregulation. In an open, competitive, unregulated market, these silly green schemes would not get past the bean counters.

      181

  • #

    I don’t think the frequency sync is as it was implied, which seems to be because wind is variable. It’s my understanding that windmills either convert an arbitrary AC frequency into DC or produce DC directly which is then synchronized to the grid in the same way that DC from solar panels is by using solid state electronics. It does mean that there needs to be a powerful and stable reference source to synchronize the electronics to and on a cold start, if all the electronic converters try to synchronize to each other, it will become very unstable very quickly. Instability arises when the phase of what you are synchronizing to is affected by the new source being added to the grid.

    Synchronizing using a battery backed up atomic clock at each windmill might help so that they all can start in-phase. But then again, windmills are already too expensive to be economical in any kind of unsubsidized environment.

    171

    • #
      ivan

      To get a better idea you need to read some of the comments from the techies in the Register comments starting partway down at ‘Silly LNP are blaming renewable energy’ and follow that to generator startup.

      81

      • #
        tom0mason

        Cheers ivan,

        Those are a giggle, especially the fools that think you can get around the restart problem by syncing the little wind gennies to GPS.
        Oh dear, I’d like to see them try!

        PS.
        Maybe I should tell them that all Western national grid are compared to an external frequency source like GPS these days.

        More popcorn!

        111

        • #
          bobl

          no, but you can feed a sample of the interconnect waveform to the inverter to sync with, the inverted syncs with, that and then can be connected, there’s no balancing currents and in syncing rotating machines – domestic inverters do that – it’s trivial.

          40

          • #
            tom0mason

            I don’t doubt it.
            It’s how all those little generators are reacting when joining the grid and have different wind loading on them. The frequency/phase shift from each of them will vary. Not much but enough to keep it all very unstable. But that’s the thing with grid connected systems, small phase/frequency variations equal big reactive currents.

            To overcome it the system would have to fast enough at each windmill to adjust the rotation speed dynamically depending on –

            1. What all the other windmills are doing, and
            2. Still dynamically adjust to the load.

            Sorry but sometime has to give, with no overall control the connected system is a likely to chase its tail in an unstable way as do anything at all.
            Remember each variation in frequency/phase is sending unproductive reactive currents around the system, currents that the protective devices are primed to stop by disconnection.

            More popcorn…

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    • #
      tom0mason

      Unfortunately where I have seen windmills added to grid supplies then standards for both frequency and amplitude (voltage) levels are slackened to accommodate the variable outputs from windmills. I understand that SA runs their system on a nominal 220VAC with wider limits and the similar for allowable frequency variation.
      That is very important when inter-connectors are to connect. For then the local grid and the inter-connector must match (by making local grid match inter-connector frequency, and adjust incoming inter-connector voltage [locally] to match local grid).

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Too many weakened links in the chain.

      What is interesting about the events prior to black-out is that wind generation was at an all time high of over 900MW (about half require load demanded). If all reliable power had back-off because wind is supplying so much, it would not take too much of a sudden wind output drop for the grid integrity to be strained. Add to that a pole or two disconnecting from the grid suddenly and the scene is set for a general failure. As the is little hard power(gas, oil, coal, hydro) recovery is now limited and grid security devices would start kick-off.
      With both variable generation and variable loading it is very hard to design a graded protection grid security system that disconnects the fault as close as possible to the problem. Graded protection is quite difficult to design on a conventional power grid, add unreliable generation and it must be very difficult.

      All in all I doubt this black-out happen because of one failure, more likely is that it was a swift cascade of small but significant events that compounded their individual effects.

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      • #

        With half coming from wind, there was not enough big capacity generators to drive the grid a from a cold start to provide the required reference to sync in the wind generators. Depending on where the windmills are, it might be hard to shed enough load to get power to them so they can sync up.

        51

    • #
      tom0mason

      Generators in windmills are usually AC generators.

      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_turbine_design#Generator

      The secret’s in the gearbox or no gearbox.

      51

      • #
        tom0mason

        Though this paper seems to indicate that some windmills (the later ones?), gets AC from the rotor/generator is converted to DC then a power inverter reconverts it to synchronized AC out.

        http://ecee.colorado.edu/ecen2060/materials/references/wind/Blaabjerg04078034.pdf

        41

        • #

          Solar cells suffer from the same startup problems and also need a stable reference to sync to. This is why the microconverters used in PV applications can’t be used off grid unless you supply an alternate battery or generator driven reference to sync to and can shed enough load so the microconverters can start up.

          60

        • #
          Analitik

          Yep, Type 3 (doubly fed) and Type 4 (full converter) turbines are asynchronous.

          There’s a bit of discussion in comment 24 by bobl and myself. Or google the terms above and there’s loads of info.

          50

      • #

        TomOmason,

        It’s most likely a polyphase AC generator, which makes sense because this is the most efficient kind, but the frequency will vary with the speed of the blades and likely be higher than 50/60 Hz. Polyphase AC is also most efficiently turned into DC and the higher the frequency is, the lighter the generator is and the less filter capacitance you need on the resulting DC which can be readily converted into AC of a precise frequency and phase.

        I pass by a wind farm frequently (Altamont pass) and the blades of the same types of windmills are rarely in sync across the whole site, which would have to be the case if they were directly connected to the grid as 60 Hz AC generators. There are some small groups of the newer large ones that seem to be in sync, which could mean that they use pitch control on the blades to keep the speed within a narrow range, but that makes the initial synchronization even more difficult, owing to the relatively slow response time. If you engaged one of these big ones 180 degrees out of phase, it would likely rip the nacelle off the top of the tower.

        Even when putting a small generator on the grid you must be very careful and the frequency and phase must be aligned exactly before connecting it. Otherwise, the generator armature adjusts to the new phase in less than one revolution and the powerful mechanical impact that results can destroy the generator.

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        • #
          Analitik

          That happens not to be the case. See my reply to tom0mason above.
          TonyFromOz can confirm this.

          They provide ZERO synchronous inertia (without the options not used in Australia) so are of no use in stabilising a grid from faults.

          40

  • #
    Ruairi

    What wind-turbines poorly produce,
    Is unstable, unsound and diffuse,
    As they can’t meet demand,
    Or high winds withstand,
    They’re pointless, defunct and no use.

    461

  • #
  • #
    Colin

    I wonder if TPTB did not know of the likelyhood of a blackout as soon as the storm was predicted.
    On Wednesday morning radio spokesman from the SES was issuing warnings of the coming event with advice to prepare for “an extended blackout which may not be fixed quickly” (paraphrasing).

    Perhaps the players in the energy market are aware that the grid is unstable and live in fear that it will go down, as in fact it did. Time to reconsider the mix of unstable renewables with coal/gas?

    161

  • #

    The unbearable lightness of intermittancy.

    91

  • #
    Robert Rosicka

    The greens are onto it claiming we need more renewables and this crisis was due to global warming .
    One question to Adam Bandt , where the hell is my global warming I’m freezing my butt off in Victoria and could use some about now .

    271

    • #
      Rod Stuart

      When you are dead, you don’t know you are dead. It is difficult only for the others.

      It is the same when you are stupid…….

      311

    • #
      Greg Cavanagh

      If the crisis was due to global warming, what is the fix?

      This so called crisis (global warming) is too ill-defined to put in place a fix. How then does more renewables fix the problem of windmills shutting down in strong wind?

      It was a grid failure (or safety shutoff), more renewables aren’t going to make the grid “more” stable.

      Green reporters seriously need a new education.

      131

    • #
      clive

      Quiet … Imbecile At Work !

      10

  • #
    Ron Clutz

    Serious energy analyst Gail Tverberg has concluded intermittent power sources cost the grid more than they add value.

    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/climateers-tilting-at-windmills-updated/

    141

  • #
    Svend Ferdinandsen

    If important lines break down you can have the unthinkable. For ten years ago the whole Sjælland (a danish large island with the capital) whent black for at least half a day.
    The reason was a shot circuit in a transmission line i Sweden, and then all power stations coupled out for protection.
    The worst was that we had only one power station on Sjælland that could start from scratch and it was not very active for the moment, so it took a while to power up the whole system bit by bit. The problem was not wind mills as such.
    I wonder why such large wind power capacity as you have is not controlled in any way.
    You would not put a 1000MW power station on the net without carefull control of its production.

    In Denmark we are blessed with interconnections to Norway, Sweden and Germany, so we can some times produce more wind power than we use, but only because we have neighbours to help.
    When danes brag about their wind power keep the neighbours in mind, it would not be possible without.

    311

  • #
    Robert Rosicka

    On a second note I think it’s time we come up with a new slogan for South Australia !
    How about “the bring your own gennie state”

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      Graeme No.3

      I hope you don’t live in Victoria, Queensland or the ACT or those words could come back to bite you. Our ignorant and delusional politicians just started sooner. (I use to think they were also more stupid than the average, but after recent statements by Brandt, Andrews, Shorten, Palaszczuk I have had to revise that idea).

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        Robert Rosicka

        Yes I do live in Victoria and am now looking into battery storage for the solar or maybe a diesel generator and have the electrics wired so when the outside supply goes out my solar will still work and if dark or overcast the generator will kick in .
        If we lose hazel wood and increase wind generation in Victoria we will end up like Sa with unreliable supply .
        I think the Feds should mandate that any state using renewable generation should have to have battery storage to cover any shortfall .

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          RobK

          Rob R,
          The cost of battery storage is around US$0.30/kWh wholesale. There’s hope to bring it down to 5c/kWh, when that happens, I expect the utilities will distribute them about the place. Even so, it’s another cost of renewables.

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          OriginalSteve

          I would be thinking if Victoria goes the same way, its time to serve notice to the pollies OF ALL STATES that the next blackout will be their last.

          Public service means actually that – serving the public.

          Then the will have to choose which master they serve – their pagan earth worshipping loony globalist buddies, or the public they were elected to serve.

          Choose wisely….

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      John Michelmore

      Robert, I think the “the state of despair” best describe my life in SA

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      Andrew McRae

      Jo said: “Forget that Queensland gets hit with cyclones all the time and the whole state grid doesn’t break.”

      Queensland… beautiful one day, still powered the next!

      :D

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    Ian Hill

    I’m confused by the different times of day that events are said to have happened. It seems clear that the lightning struck at 3:48pm central standard time which is 4:18pm eastern time. But I’m sure the power went off after 4pm central time. Did anyone else take note?

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      Graeme No.3

      It went off before 4 pm central time, I would think 3:48 central time. For the lucky ones it came back on about 6 hours later (I was asleep by then).
      Speaking of luck, I live in the Adelaide Hills and this town got power back early, but 5 kilometres north didn’t. Only the local supermarket there was open (own generator) and the school closed. I don’t know the extent of the blackout, it extends north to the Barossa and Hahndorf looked like a ghost town yesterday and there was no power on the edge of Mt. Barker. And it is far worse further north and west.

      All we can do is toss another shrimp brain on the barbie.

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        toorightmate

        Anyone who once partnered Penny Wong sure does have a shrimp brain.

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        Ian Hill

        Thanks Graeme, I remember looking at the clock on the wall but must have mentally noted “around 4 o’clock” only. At the time I was working on a Word document on my desktop and checking just now, it was last saved at 3:36pm, which is consistent with the sudden 3:48pm shutdown.

        Towns which continued to be without power yesterday must have also been affected by local factors such as damaged lines from fallen trees etc.

        Do any other SA residents have a story to tell?

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          crakar24

          Woomera, Lobethal, Port Lincoln still have no power which to me is very puzzling. I was in Harvey Normans when the power went out and can confirm it was 3:48pm.

          I keep asking why do some parts of the state still have no power when it is simply a re setting problem? That smarmy prick (can I say prick) is hiding something.

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            Thanks to the SA folk who can confirm the time. The 30 minute difference and many sites failing to mark it AEST has been very frustrating. Though the Aneroid graph marks it as 2:45pm in WA, which doesn’t make any damn sense at all since that’s 4:15 in SA and 4:45 AEST.

            Sorry to hear you are still without power Cracker. Damn shame about the coal fired station at Port Augusta.

            Were any transmission lines down between you and PA?
            (I want a map of the downed tower locations, and the times they fell.)

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          Graeme No.3

          Ian Hill:
          Lobethal power was out until just after midday Thursday (too late to open school etc.)
          Hahndorf had power by Friday PM (and it may have had it along with Totness from 7 am).
          Totness (the bit between Littlehampton and Mt. Barker) lost power Wed. until Thursday 14.30. It went out again Thursday ~ 19.00 and started again Friday ~07.00. Probably Hahndorf, Littlehampton and Mt. Barker would have been in the same fix.
          Stirling and Crafers power back approx. 21.10 Wed. Aldgate, or at least parts of it) on off power until Fri. morning. One street there hasn’t had landline telephone/ ADSL for 2 weeks (went out of action with the previous blackout). Residents were told to expect it back on the Wednesday 28/09 but think it will be back by Oct. 6 as that is when Telstra will e-mail the next bill.

          In other words power out all over the place – I hear that Bridgewater (which could include parts of Aldgate) went out twice more because of trees coming down.

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    cohenite

    Good technical comments on this thread and the previous one. It is undeniable that wind has caused this problem. It is a scandal. The other scandal is Will Steffen and his ilk pushing their opportunistic and shameless hysteria. At what point do we stop calling such people scientists and instead activists consistent with their primary purpose.

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    Ron Cook

    Hi Jo and commenters,

    I read your blog daily in order to keep up to date with the latest info on the fight for truth and sanity in regard to GW/CC.

    In any issue that pertains to AGW/CC the MSM, ABC, SBS have the upper hand and promote the lies and propaganda at every opportunity. SO the public at large are only going to hear those lies through these lines of communication.

    Only the likes of Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones are able to counteract this due to their ‘high profile’ Skye News TV and other radio programs plus some news paper columns.

    My question and concern is; How can we get the Truth out to the populous?

    I and I’m sure most of your commenters have constant battles, almost daily, in trying to convince ‘believers’ in AGW/CC that they are being fed lies. Like the green garbage being promoted in regard to SA’s power debacle.

    How do we get more of our views “out there”?

    R-COO- K+

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    Ian George

    I can’t find any weather stations in SA showing 140kmph gusts – best is 120kmph at Neptune Is.
    This storm is therefore equivalent to a Cat 1 tropical cyclone (of course there could have been higher gust speeds but not official). In comparison, Adelaide had gusts over 160kmph in 1964.

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      PeterPetrum

      Ian, is that mph or kph?

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      There are reports of local tornadoes which makes the other wind speed data not relevant. I would like to know where and when those tornados happened if they are responsible. I can’t imagine they all happened in the same minute.

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        Graeme No.3

        I think those local tornadoes happened where and when it was convenient to explain those power pylons coming down. At least one picture shows that the concrete footings pulled out of the ground as pylon fell over rather than bending or breaking. The same as some trees falling over because the saturated ground gives way around the roots. Will Steffen will no doubt explain that Climate Change means lots of rain.

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    PeterS

    Guess what the response is from the Greens – accelerate the use of “clean” energy sources. We all know the popular definition of insanity, and it applies very well to the Greens.

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      crakar24

      Funny you should mention that, the morning of the great blackout it was announced complete with fanfare a new wind farm will be built just north of Kapunda (100K’s north of Adelaide) it will consist of 50 X 180 meter towers @ 3.5 MW and will be spread over 5,600 hectares (a sight for sore eyes indeed).

      A Bandt will be impressed

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      clive

      The definition of insanity…. Voting for the establishment candidates over and over and over again and expecting a different results.

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      bobl

      The answer to failures of socialism is always more socialism.

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        PeterS

        True, until it self destructs. Trouble is a lot of innocent as well as guilty people suffer greatly in the process.

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    crakar24

    I dont buy the frequency issue with turbines as one commentator above has pointed out, a wind turbine generates AC voltage in two ways depending on its design.

    1, It can produce a constant 50Hz signal no matter how fast it is spinning or
    2, It can produce a variable Hz depending on how fast it is spinning

    The turbines in SA are of the second type, the AC and varying frequencies generated by the turbine are converted to DC (0Hz) and then as a collective (entire wind farm) it is then converted back to XX Volts XX Hz to phase and frequency match the grid.

    I accept the possibility that if wind turbines were producing a high supply and then suddenly went to zero would cause problems as in it would all fall back on the interconnect to supply. I also accept you cannot restart the network with wind turbines, you could only add them in after it has been restarted.

    What actually happened?

    My understanding is the line that “fell over” in the wind was supplying 275KV to the Clare Valley region, this power was supplied by the interconnect, this line going down would have no effect on the interconnect apart from a reduction in the load it sees.

    The increased demand would have been transferred to the SA power supply and with no turbine power meant it was up to the Torrens island gas peaking plant or the pelican point gas plant (hard to get this info out of anyone) anyway when the demand increased the gas plant here grabbed its heart and died with a leg in the air.

    This in turn meant the entire SA state load was transferred to the interconnect or if you like Hazelwood, the interconnect then cut SA away and we had the blackout we deserved to have. Had the interconnect not cut SA away SA would have taken out Hazelwood due to the increased load, which in turn would have taken out Loy Yang and so on until the entire eastern seaboard was in darkness.

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      bobl

      “My understanding is the line that “fell over” in the wind was supplying 275KV to the Clare Valley region, this power was supplied by the interconnect, this line going down would have no effect on the interconnect apart from a reduction in the load it sees.”

      Whoa, hold on there

      Crakar, suppose a tower falls over, the line goes down with all three phases draped over and in contact with a common metal structure which creates a short circuit across 275000 Volts, and you reckon that won’t blow the fuse?

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        crakar24

        bobl,

        I am assuming there is some sort of isolation between the 275KV line and the interconnector, when the line goes down there will/should be a cct breaker that comes into play isolating the interconnect with the short cct ergo this would not effect the interconnector, on the other hand this is SA so who knows what type of network they have built to support their 100% renewable dreams

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        • #

          Please read this and get an idea of how something like this can happen, and the time it takes, once started, just seconds.

          Link to Timeline of 2003 Power Failure

          Tony.

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            Mari C

            Here’s another version of the timeline, from a local news source. http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/08/blackout_2003_timeline.html

            It meshes with my memory of the day’s events, as we lost power at work around 3:30 pm, a bit after, with the generators kicking on shortly after – and complained it hadn’t happened sooner, as the day was almost over and we’d be stuck at work until normal quitting time.

            “3:41:33 p.m.: Breakers disconnect a major line jointly owned by FirstEnergy and American Electric. Power overloads smaller lines to northern Ohio, and blackouts begin. Low voltage trips circuit breakers in manufacturing plants and on local power lines, cutting 600 megawatts”

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          bobl

          No Crakar a failure on a EHV line like this causes fault currents of such magnitude that coordination of disconnectors is impossible. Your scenario only really happens if the fault current is below the interconnectors fault level so that the local isolator works but the higher current device doesn’t. This sort of coordination usually assumes a single line to ground fault not a line to line direct short via a conductor. In a very high fault current scenario it becomes a gamble as to which disconnector will isolate first.

          Not only this but disconnectors have fault ratings, they are only designed to open a circuit carrying a certain fault current, if the current is higher than that the elecricity will ignite an arc and possibly create its own conductive path across the disconnector.

          My guess is the fault current was very high and the upstream disconnector was the fastest

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            bobl

            PS, Just to give people some idea of how difficult this is, remember there are multiple sources feeding this line, it’s possible that under normal circumstances there are multiple lower current sources feeding this line sharing the load. It is feasible that the capacity of the feeder that dropped was in fact greater than the interconnector. With wind, solar and local gas off the grid, the full load of the feeder may have been on the interconnector. So you have the interconnect with a lower capacity feeding a line with a higher capacity feeder, how in this scenario can you make the high current disconnector (on the feeder) disconnect before the lower current disconnector on the interconnect?

            In electrical networks this happens everywhere, it becomes quite difficult to make things happen in the right order under all scenarios.

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              RobK

              Bobl’s point is: With very large fault currents discrimination by trip devices is not a sure thing. The sequence of events becomes less predictable (i.e.which device trips first compared to the designed sequence)

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            Kneel

            Protection circuits operate in three zones. IIRC, zone 1 is first 20% of line, zone 2 is 80% and zone 3 is 120%. Zone 1 fault will trip within 2 cycles, zone 2 within 3 cycles and zone 3 within 5. There are also “intertrips” – remote indication of a zone 1 fault while a local zone 3 fault is showing results in immediate trip.
            Direct phase-to-phase faults (tower collapse) might have caused a zone 1 overcurrent fault on the interconnect at the SA end and a zone 3 overcurrent fault at the Vic end – bye bye interconnect (both ends). By the time the auto-reclosers put the interconnect back in service, frequency/phase/voltage would already have drifted too far in the de-stabilised SA grid for it to make any difference, and it would have tripped again anyway.

            There is a similar critical point in the NSW grid, but I won’t post it publicly. If this particular asset was damaged enough to prevent its use, NSW grid stability would become marginal instantly – it could be made stable again even without this asset, but the switching required would take some time to arrange, so even if the grid survived it would be a very nervous time for the operators for several hours at least.

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      Analitik

      You stated you did not accept my explanation in the prior thread so I will give the reply I also added there (based on my “education”)

      A generator frequency gets mismatched when it is either over or underloaded so its speed changes faster than it can affect the grid frequency. This only occurs when there is not enough synchronous inertia to absorb a sudden demand change.

      Once the generator falls out of phase with the grid, it is unloaded and will run at a different speed to the grid frequency. Yes, phase falls out of line first but the grid frequency will not be maintained if the generator is being driven.

      After this, the generator needs its frequency adjusted to match the grid and then the phase aligned before it can be reconnected. If the generator magically stayed locked to the grid frequency, then a loss of phase alignment could be almost instantaneously recoverable by automated system.

      Is that enough for you?

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        crakar24

        Analitik,

        You are swapping between frequency and phase when you should not be………

        A generator frequency gets mismatched when it is either over or underloaded so its speed changes faster than it can affect the grid frequency. This only occurs when there is not enough synchronous inertia to absorb a sudden demand change

        This does not make sense, the Torrens island plant generates a voltage at 50hz (the speed of rotation of the turbine), the speed of rotation is driven by the generator itself not the network, ergo if the network freq is derived from the generator how can the freq go out of synch.

        Once the generator falls out of phase with the grid, it is unloaded and will run at a different speed to the grid frequency. Yes, phase falls out of line first but the grid frequency will not be maintained if the generator is being driven.

        Now you talk about phase and then swap back to freq, there is a need to phase align generators but the freq is set by the generator itself…correct?

        The turbines connect to the grid via AC/DC/AC converters so no issue there with phase or freq and they were not producing power at that point so that leaves Hazelwood and Torrens island as the only two generators, please explain how these two generators went of os sync in phase, freq or whatever when the towers fell down.

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          tom0mason

          In the old days with real fossil fueled generators connected together on the grid, if a generator was attempting to run excessively slow then the rest of the grid would hold it at grid frequency by making it act as a motor. This happens because the grid has more available current. Excessive reactive (voltage and current not in phase) currents would flow through its windings, prompting protective trips at the generator to act very quickly, disconnecting it.

          If the generator tries to run much too fast when joining the grid, again the grid (having more available current) would still try and control the generator’s frequency and excessive reactive current in the windings would again trip the generator. (Currents this time are flowing in the opposite direction to the situation above).

          If a generator is synchronized correctly but attempt to join the grid with its phase incorrectly set then it is equivalent to the one of the situations above. Although the frequency is correct, at the moment of joining the grid, large currents will flow and if the generator does not trip, then it will be either momentarily slowed or sped up, putting it in phase. As the protective breakers on generators are designed to trip within parts of a cycle (half cycle?), phase and frequency must be darn close to prevent a trip.

          If a generator’s voltage is much too high when attempting to join the grid excessive phase to neutral (or ground) currents would immediately trip the generator.

          Once the generator is correctly on the grid it is loaded by frequency and voltage control. That is the generator is now made to try and run fast pushing its current on to the grid in a controlled manner.
          Suddenly unloading a generator in an uncontrolled way will usually cause an immediate over-speed trip of the engine.

          That used to be the way generators are voltage adjusted, synchronized with, phased to the grid before switch to it. After that it is loaded on to the grid in a steady controlled manned. Taking it off the grid is a reverse procedure — unloaded, switch from the grid, slow and off.

          If the protective trips fail to operate the generator’s windings or cabling are likely to overheat or even melt.

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            RobK

            A good explanation Tommo,
            For those not familiar, there is a basic difference between a synchronous electric motor/alternator and an asynchronous motor/alternator. When a synchronous alternator (which has salient poles) is locked to another synchronous alternator when both are momentarily at zero volts, they are then magnetically locked in phase with each other and stay that way unless some extreme stress cause slippage. They become locked in sync with each other even if they weren’t going the same speed beforehand, they are the same speed once locked.
            Asynchronous alternators rely on slippage and reactive power and cause a leading power factor when trying to drive the grid, or a lagging power factor when the grid is driving an electric motor. Some wind turbines are asynchronous. Those which are inverter types cause issues because they cannot create very pure sine waves under varying conditions. This creates harmonic distortion and makes monitoring and reacting difficult. Added to all of that is the fact that powerlines have a capacitive effect on the power factor. These issues can be dealt with by power factor correction but it doesn’t come cheaply, along with beefing up conductors to carry wildly varying inputs from renewables it all adds to a hidden cost of renewables.

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              tom0mason

              Thank-you,
              You are correct with the increased harmonic content and reactive VA. In the old days such things would not have been allowed. Harmonic currents and excessive VARs (VA reactive) just result in excessive and useless peak currents and potentially damaging peak voltages.

              The other point that is rarely appreciated is that to keep the generator losses low the generator winding are very, very low impedance (1/10th of an ohm per winding), coupled to this you have many hundreds (if not thousands) of amps(peak) available both from the generator-set and the grid. Get the frequency or phase wrong when joining a grid and it could be like a short being dropped in to the powered conductors.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              In the above example, normally the generator is synchronized to within parts of Hz, and less than 1° in phase alignment.

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    Robert R

    Oh, you have to feel so sorry for the poor old Flim Flan man. He’s so depressed.

    All that non stop criticism he’s received for predicting no more rain in South Australia………..and the resultant desalination plant they built down there because of this alarmism!

    Lucky they haven’t needed to use this plant though. How could you run a desalination plant on candle power!

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      Egor TheOne

      Yes, desalination requires massive power.

      So, if SA was in drought not only would they have no power, but also no drinking or anything else water!

      They could of course have back up generation such as coal fired power stations, but the idiot alp state dictatorship have been shown to celebrate the dynamiting of such backups….another giant step in the wrong(green) direction….akin to cutting off your right arm to satisfy a weight loss program!

      The key to modern living and a thriving community is cheap plentiful and reliable power…..not the fiasco that now exists driven by delusional CAGW true b’lver group think.

      Take back your state people of SA before all your manufacturing goes the way of the Dodo Bird….extinction.

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      Yonniestone

      Well you can simmer soup with three candles in 45 minutes, so applying green logic there’s a light at the end of the turmoil tunnel.

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    A C, of Adelaide

    I believe it might be useful to compare South Australia with Tasmania.
    Both States have aggressively pushed renwables and have been tuning their grids to be able to cash in on the sale of renewable energy into the eastern seaboard States – but they have left themselves exposed with local energy security issues. When the Tassie connector broke Tasmania was left a crisis. South Australia has just done the same. I suspect its about gaming the national energy market assuming that someone else would pick up the tab for local energy security. Just a thought.

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    TdeF

    There are a few puzzles from yesterday.

    Why pylons collapsed in a modestly high wind has to be explained. As the Germans discovered in WW2, they could bomb the radar towers on the East Coast but not blow them up with direct hits, but SA transmission bent and crumpled. Why? How? Towers are immensely strong structures, just skeletons through which the wind blows. Perhaps the quality of the steel was suspect? Recently in Melbourne I am aware of six steel flagpoles snapping in the middle in a high wind and winds in Melbourne are never high. Zero load. Faulty Chinese steel.

    Secondly I am extremely puzzled at the often repeated statement, this from the Australian Energy Market operator that wind and roof top solar “have low or no physical intertia and are therefore currently limited in their ability to response to sudden large changes in electricity supply or consumption”. Now that doesn’t even make sense.

    Firstly low mass and so inertia systems have the greatest ability to change speed or direction. Newtons three laws of motion. Secondly it is the electricity output which cannot change simply because the sun does not shine more brightly because you need it, the wind does not blow on demand and the clouds are out of control. The real problem with sun and wind is that not only do they not obey commands, they are intrinsically unreliable even over a minute when there are clouds. This has nothing to do with inertia, in fact the reverse of its real meaning, like the change of meaning of inflammable to now mean flammable. Highly inflammable is just a contradictory phrase which has entered the language through ignorance and repeated misuse. Inertia sounds like science. Solar panels have no moving parts.

    Base loads should be rock steady, day and night, which eliminates sun and wind at any time. That is why they are called base loads! They should be able to change steadily on command, which eliminates sun and wind as a base load but it is more economic to have gas cut in at peak periods, as in Melbourne. Hydro is also used for this, not base load or you run out of water. The entire Snowy scheme would be emptied in a few days supplying Melbourne or Sydney. Tasmania worked this out, eventually. Clean coal is the only contender for base load. CO2 is not pollution.

    What South Australia has done against all reason has made a highly variable, flukey wind their base load, asking gas to spin up to fill the gaps. The turbines and especially the big rotors are the one which cannot respond instantly precisely because of their huge mass and thus inertia. Worse, South Australia has many very hot, very still days in summer and some ripper storms in winter. So wind power is their base load? Which genius decided that? Not Mr Weather ill?

    As for why power lines fell over, that is potentially a different scandal, the stuff of action movies not reality.

    Finally, the acceptance in the media that Victorian power is ‘dirty’ is pervasive in the press. Brown coal is only 6% more CO2 producing than black coal.

    As for ‘dirty’, we are all carbon life forms who are made from CO2 eating plants which are solid CO2. Calling CO2 dirty is like fish vilifying H2O as pollution. Without CO2, there would be no life on earth. Again, ignorance trumps reality. The weather is driven by water and sunshine. No one has been able to prove CO2 has any impact at all. 30 years after the IPCC started this nonsense to get funding, they are still spreading a totally discredited story, aided and abetted by the science free Greens.

    Perhaps the silliest part of wind power is that when you have a lot of it and need it desperately, you have to turn it off. Pure genius.

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      el gordo

      ‘Pure genius.’

      Indeed, when the wind doesn’t blow or if the wind is too strong the system doesn’t work. This alone should stop the other states going down this path.

      ‘Faulty Chinese steel.’

      Good catch, worth following up.

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        RobK

        The Chinese don’t have a monopoly on dodgy steel.

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          RobK

          ….but yes, I’m at a loss as to why so many are said to have failed. The gold plating incentives come to mind. A free for all cash cow.

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            el gordo

            The steel in the transmission towers is unlikely to have come from China and it was a mini cyclone which did the damage.

            If Whyalla is mothballed because of the steel glut, then a Beijing state run organisation might make a move to secure it. Ostensibly to build submarines, VFT and satellite cities way out back, the inscrutable third way.

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            el gordo

            Jennifer Marohasy raises some serious questions on the collapse of the transmission towers.

            ‘Nevertheless, this is still much less severe than would typically be experienced during a northern Australian cyclone, with the Queensland electricity grid withstanding recent cyclone Marcia (156 km/hr) and even Yasi (285 km/hr gusts) – though there was local damage and power outage.’

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      bobl

      Like tornados common in supercell storms like that. Tornadoes cause wildly varying wind pressure on the structures that cause metal (flexing) fatigue failure. Towers are designed with the line tension, (in a certain direction in mind) to some extent the line ties the structures into a larger stable structure so once one tower goes, the loss of or off axis tensions in the line cause down and upstream towers to lose stability and have torque forces applied they are not designed to cope with and the upstream/downstream towers fail. The failed tower pulls others down. It’s not uncommon for this to happen. They are maintained very well though, this is a genuine accident I’m sure. There is nothing to see on that flank.

      Lot’s to see elsewhere but the tower failures are not the issue.

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      Yonniestone

      The question of low quality steel grades is very important, this is an excellent PDF link from Engineers Australia, Structural steel-are you getting what you need? or ‘When A-grade is not A-grade’

      It covers what many in our industry have suspected or known for years, I personally witnessed the gradual shrinking of steel sizes of imported steel compared to Australian standard measurements, this included all aspects of flange width, flange thickness, web thickness, root radius etc..

      Relying on a foreign country hell bent on it’s bottom line to impose costly quality control is pure folly.

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        Yonniestone

        Forgot to mention the link is specifically a study on steel lattice towers, pay attention to the MPa grades as my long held suspicions on overseas steel making and the recycling factor reflects my experience with oxy cutting and welding this product.

        A bit OT, we have a 25m fire lookout tower on Mt Bunninyong 745m above sea level, built in 1980 mostly from galvanised steel angle and channel it’s survived all extremes of weather from gales, snow, heatwaves, bushfires and I believe you’ll see BHP stamped in the structure everywhere.

        I’ll personally get photos for the weekend unthreaded if anyone is interested.

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          David Maddison

          Please post links to photos or make YouTube video – it is important to document these things for the record.

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      Analitik

      Why pylons collapsed in a modestly high wind has to be explained. As the Germans discovered in WW2, they could bomb the radar towers on the East Coast but not blow them up with direct hits, but SA transmission bent and crumpled. Why? How? Towers are immensely strong structures, just skeletons through which the wind blows.

      Most pylons are suspension towers whose main role is to support the cables weight. They can be built quite lightly and will fall over if the cable tension is not the same from both directions. Interspersed with these and at turns are strain towers that can stand unsupported with only cable tension from one direction.

      If the winds are strong enough to bring down a strain tower, it is inevitable that all the suspension towers up to the next strain tower will fall. It’s about economics – there’s nothing wrong or stupid with this and the practice is global in power transmission.

      The real point is that the grid should not collapse statewide in this situations. Blackout islands are inevitable but not a state.

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    bobl

    Joanne,

    Some corrections

    You CAN’T introduce out of phase generators to a grid, it doesn’t cause interference, what happens is the voltage of the generator changes relative to the grid, If you could imagine the terminal of the generator being say -6600 Volts instantaneous and the grid being +6600V instantaneous (For a 6 KV generator). What is between these two points is a piece of wire.

    The current rises to infinity, and the whole grid current flows through the out of sync generator which promptly gets rather hot and expands rather quickly (ie Explodes). It’s worse than a short circuit. This is particularly true for inverters.

    Now rotating machines do behave a bit differently the short circuit would exist but the high current through the alternator in the generator would generate torque, this would change the speed of the generator forcing it into sync with the network, this is how rotating machines maintain sync, because alternators are motors, if they fall out of sync the currents bring them back to sync automatically. However even the momentary short circuit in a 6600V machine is going to break something, hopefully a fuse.

    Depending on the phase relationship between the grid and the generator it’s even possible that the torque would cause backwards rotations, for many machines this will damage the engine (probably not relevant for windmills), most generators have protection for situations where the grid tries to run them as motors.

    Commentators talk about inertia, if you read above you can see why, if you had a bunch of free wheeling wind towers then the frequency would converge on a sync value of the mean of the generators, changing constantly, the windmills would be constantly adapting frequency to wind condition, with faster windmills driving the slower ones as motors – chaos. You need a high power fixed frequency generator to provide those “motor” currents to force the windmills to hold sync at the desired frequency. Thus to reboot, you have to establish this baseline in order to bring the windmills on with no damage.

    PS – There are ways around this, if the windmills fed inverters which created a phase locked wave then you could allow them to rotate freely, and just adapt their output to the grid. Inslanding domestic inverters can do that for example.

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      Analitik

      Just about all the wind turbines in Australia are doubly fed or full converter so the speed of the rotor does not have to bear any relation to the grid frequency – the output is generated electronically (as per your last sentence). This is why they contribute zero inertia as opposed to the early direct generator versions which will provide a tiny bit. Some models deployed overseas have a systems to provide synthetic inertia (Enercon call theirs “Inertial Emulation”) which can provide overcurrent capability for a few seconds to drive a fault – there is a relatively long recovery period afterward when the turbine cannot provide power but those few seconds can be vital for tripping circuit breakers to isolate a fault.

      Whatever the case may be, the wind turbines need a signal to synch to – they cannot start on their own. With offshore wind farms that are only linked by a HVDC cable, the farm either has diesel generators on some turbines so one can synch off that to bootstrap the itself and then provide the grid signal for the others or else the HVDC platform has diesel generator or uses its converter as a signal generator (powered from the DC shore supply) to provide the local grid signal. All this is unnecessary for onshore wind farms so our turbines wait for the grid to be restored before they can “contribute”.

      The AEMO and ElectraNet specifically warned about the lack of inertia from the turbines deployed here in their February assessment for South Australia
      https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/PDF/Joint-AEMO-ElectraNet-Report_19-February-2016.ashx

      The South Australian blackout pretty much played out along the lines of one scenario from the above report yet the AEMO states that it was wholly a weather event. Then they say it will be some time before the cause of the blackout will be known (but they know renewables were not the cause) – politically constrained?

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        AndyG55

        I would have thought it would work better if they used the offshore DC to drive a large DC motor which in turn drives a flywheel alternator arrangement that provided only 50hz AC.

        That would smooth things pout a lot, wouldn’t it.

        Better than trying to do it electronically, and a big flywheel could provide considerable inertia.

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        • #
          Analitik

          A DC driven generator would add a lot of complication for control – the signal has to be fairly strong so we aren’t talking about a low powered motor. Easier to engineer the system to use the AC-DC converters in reverse. The diesel generator option is lowest capital cost from memory but requires fuel storage.

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            bobl

            Agreed,
            Analytic, I have to point out for the benefit of readers here that it is possible to have a master reference to synchronise inverters – and arrange it so that if there is no reference they will establish their own and it’s also relatively easy to advance or retard the reference to bring the inverters into phase sync in order to connect a rotating generator. A no break UPS system with generator backup will typically do just this. However typically these systems are just designed as non islanding systems because its cheaper and if there is fossil power available why bother with islanding capability.

            Fact is that these windmills can’t do that only because they aren’t designed to, only because that’s the design choice that was taken when they were ordered.

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              bobl

              PPS – Not that there is much point to islanding because wind power is intermittent, even if you could island the wind generators you still would be completely unable to balance demand with supply.

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          RobK

          That would smooth things pout a lot, wouldn’t it.
          Yes, it would. Cost is the factor..and it doesn’t have a flashy screen.

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      tom0mason

      bobl,

      Wrongly phased generator cause massive reactive currents through generator windings causing the protective trip act on the generator.
      Please see above
      ______________________

      I have paralleled a few generators before. From little 10kVA sets to 500kVA sets. The procedure is always the same basics.

      I’ve also assisted in putting a 750kVA old monster on the national grid in the UK. That was scary as the engine was an old refurbish ships diesel and the control circuitry was circa 1950. Three lamp synchronization, and a switch panel that looked like Dr. Frankenstein last used it. Control circuits was all tubes(valves) with thyratron phase excitation timing control.

      Only rinkie-dink little stuff compared to TonyfromOz’s proper generators.

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    • #
      TdeF

      The need to synchronize

      Thanks Analtik. I was not familiar with the major problem of AC distribution. It is so obvious in hindsight.

      The need to synchronize was the biggest argument against AC distribution in the ‘current wars’ in the 1880s between arch rivals Edison and Tesla. You can match DC just by getting the voltages right. With AC you need to have all the generators match exactly in voltage at all times, so matching in voltage, frequency, phase angle and even wave form. Even the slightest difference would mean massive current flows between the power stations, destroying them in an instant.

      Tesla won the current wars in the 1880s with Westinghouse after the successful Chicago exhibition. The huge advantage of AC over DC was long distance distribution where AC could be transformed up to high voltage, low current, reducing massive losses and transformed down at the other end. The down side was synchronization.

      A real problem when a generator has been disconnected from the grid is to establish this precise match before reconnecting. They in turn become dependent in matching the Heywood and Murray interconnectors. With so many individual windfarms over such an area the problem is magnified, making the whole system vulnerable to catastrophic collapse from which seemingly there is no simple recovery. I would suggest that turning windfarms off makes it very hard to reconnect them. It may be why all the wind output vanished simultaneously as noted. Once disconnected, they are safe from destruction by varying voltages but useless. That is an incredibly brittle State wide system as opposed to a robust system. It shattered.

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        TdeF

        This need to turn windfarms off to protect them means that Windfarms should never supply the essential electricity for a state which must be covered by steady permanent and guaranteed base load. From the various reports, it is clear that the electricity providers knew this increase to 40% meant the whole 40% would vanish in an instant and the balance had to be adequate to power essential services state wide. It was not.

        A private company who set up such a brittle and dangerous and damaging system would be prosecuted by the Government of South Australia for the damage caused, but the government will blame the storm? Does anyone believe this?

        Ironically Victoria has had a lovely day today as most of the wind and rain skipped the state. So low CO2 South Australia copped it all, while blaming CO2 for the extreme weather? Gaia must be angry with South Australia.

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        RobK

        Historically, AC is also easier to switch off as it’s ability to ionize air is less than that of DC for a given power rating. Three phase electric motors are mostly brushless, very cheap and reliable compared to DC motors.

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        • #
          tom0mason

          As switching of AC supplies are (these days) done at or near the zero voltage point, little electrical noise (interference) is generated, even on very large switch gear. (Also another reason for power factor control limiting reactive current/voltage issues to a minimum.)
          Switching of DC supplies however happen at supply voltage causing lots of broadband noise and interference.
          High current DC has problems with pitting and erosion of switching surfaces, hi-voltage DC has problems with arcing and plasma discharge as well as insulation breakdown issues.

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    Geoff Sherrington

    One of the superior base load types is nuclear. Immune to almost every intermittency you can imagine.
    Australia needs its first nuclear plant now. Two would be prudent security.
    The issue is not so much safety or reliability or true cost so much as the man-made labyrinth of regulation that hinders public and government approval and doubles the true cost.
    China now has operational status experience to allow costing relatively free from these artificial constraints.
    It is time to do a rapid, serious study with the stated intention of proceeding to build at once provided that the benefit:cost analysis hurdle is crossed.
    There simply is no coherent argument against this course.
    Geoff

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      crakar24

      Only one problem, you dont want to fast track the building of a nuke, Australia has missed that boat a long time ago, we are as they say in the classic F^&**&ED.

      We need to urgently upgrade our coal based power generation and plan, design and then build the nukes in normal time, that should take about 20 years once the squealing like pigs phase from the general populace is complete

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        RobK

        I’m with Geoff on this one. Start now, it will take some time to attain proficiency but there is no reason Australia can’t benefit from a fully vertically integrated nuclear industry within one generation.

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          Graeme No.3

          There is a problem in that the politicians will insist that the wind turbines be retained. Since the wind drove coal and gas out of business, they will disrupt nuclear, and make it too expensive.
          Up-grade the coal stations and add CCGT with gas from frakking. (That should cause apoplexy to any trolls).

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      bobl

      At Olympic Dam I contend

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    pat

    29 Sep: UK Telegraph: Emily Gosden: Energy policy overhaul ‘needed to cut costs and keep lights on’
    The Government is facing fresh calls to overhaul its energy policy to cut costs for consumers, as new analysis claims renewables policies alone will equate to £466 a year for every UK household by 2020.
    The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), the right-wing think tank behind the analysis, and petrochemicals giant Ineos are both also calling for the Government to scrap its unilateral UK carbon tax, which pushes up energy bills.
    In a paper released today, the CPS is highly critical of energy policy in general, arguing the electricity system is now “precarious” and suggesting Britain could be heading for blackouts as old coal plants close…
    Although households only pay about one-third of such costs directly through their energy bills, the think-tank argues that the remainder – funded through industry and business energy bills – is ultimately passed on to consumers through “higher prices for goods and services”…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/28/energy-policy-overhaul-needed-to-cut-costs-and-keep-lights-on/

    Qld is, of course, defending moving from 4.5-5% renewable energy at present to 50 per cent by 2030. whoa! with most of the MSM continuing to spruik wind & solar, the public cannot be said to be well-informed on the subject.

    AUDIO: 3mins08secs: 30 Sep: ABC AM: Labor states defend ambitious renewable energy targets
    Featured:
    Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Energy Minister
    Leeanne Enoch, Queensland Acting Energy Minister
    Brendan Pearson, chief executive, Minerals Council of Australia
    http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2016/s4547637.htm

    presumably the Qld Govt has a mandate?

    29 Sep: Brisbane Times: Felicity Caldwell: Labor ‘has delivered 336 out of 553 election promises’: Annastacia Palaszczuk
    “Coal prices are above Treasury estimates, which not only means more investment and a better future for the mining sector but it potentially means extra revenue for our state coffers as well,” Ms Palaszczuk said…
    A Newspoll published in The Australian today revealed Ms Palaszczuk was the nation’s most popular premier, with a satisfaction rating of 44, falling from 50 at the end of 2015.

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    gbees

    Over at Jennifer Marohasy’s blog she is having trouble finding gusts anywhere near cyclonic. The collapse of the transmission towers should not have happened at such relatively low wind gusts.

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      old bloke

      The collapsed towers are weird. If you check the photos of the towers you can see that the surrounding flora is unaffected, i.e., no uprooted trees etc.

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      dlb

      A tornado is a very small weather system, not picked up by most weather stations. One small tornado and one very long transmission line have a high probability of meeting. Result, power-line down.

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        David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz

        Agree dlb,
        I’ve been on this place 24 years amd had two “mini tornados”, as we called them, go through. One passed about 1lm to the north of the house and created enough fallen trees to give me firewood for several years. The other passed about 5 kms to the south, and gave other people their supply. Luckily no one was hurt. And neither was reported, or registered in any official record. I think I slept through both.
        Later I read a report quoting a BoM person, saying that tornados are quite frequent in Oz, removing the “mini”.
        But no high voltage lines near either.
        Cheers,
        Dave B

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    OriginalSteve

    10-15 years ago ( forget when exactly ) I read about agenda 21 and thought it was a bit far fetched and wondered how the world could be basically enslaved through the COmmunist UN and its loopy ideas.

    Now we see what appears to be Agenda 21 in action – basically trashing a complete state to offer it up as a “sacrifice” to the UN Agenda 21.

    Bear in mind the UN is powered by individual sovereign govts. Without these govts and their money, the UN cant exist.

    We have an issue – but its closer to home….

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    Mark M

    Wait. What?

    SMH, 29 September, 2016: [Global Warming] stealing rain from Australia by shifting winds towards Antarctica

    “When much of southeast Australia faced abnormally hot and dry weather last summer, forecasters put it down to a high-pressure system blocking clouds from forming.

    But rising greenhouse gases were also to blame, researchers have found.”

    Wait! What?

    So, greenhouse gases are “to blame for hot and dry weather last summer”, and “unprecedented one-in-50-year-storms” the next year?

    December 15, 2015, the ABC posted this headline: Is drought the new normal for the once lush south-east of SA?

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    • #
      el gordo

      The collapse of the Subtropical Ridge, allowing low pressure to penetrate the mainland, was not expected to happen in a warming world. This is a great victory for our side, we have a cooling signal.

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  • #

    Very informative article Jo.

    Hopefully we will see more of these events occur, because we need the intellectual nakedness of these ‘green’ monster virtue signalers to be exposed for the whole western world to see … lunacy!

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    Greg

    Those pylons which blew over do not look very stable. Not the broader based kind of designs I’m used to seeing Europe.

    Wind generation seemed to be producing about 1GW at the time the grid went down , about 2/3 of its boilerplate registered capacity. It could be, as Jaymez suggested, that this meant relatively little thermal generation was active and when few sections of transmission line went down, there was nothing there to make up loss. Existing on-line thermal stations may have had to start load shedding. leading to more sections being cut off from supply, leading to cascade failure.

    This does not explain why it took so long to power the system back up.

    Having such a significant part of the network being an intermittent source will have drastically changed the system requirements from when it was designed. My impression is that not enough has been done to change the structure of the grid to accommodate the changes in the nature of the energy input.

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      crakar24

      According to my tired old eyes the wind farms switched off at approx 2:30pm if that is AEST than that makes it 2:00pm in SA, it went dark at 3:48pm. Therefore the windy mills were not in operation at that point and the Torrens island 1200Mw gas plant would have been at full throttle.

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      • #
        David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz

        Sorry Crakar,
        I don’t understand what your tired old eyes were looking at. My set are seeing a later time. What were you looking at?
        Cheers,
        Dave B

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        • #
          Analitik

          He’s looking at Jo’s graph at the top but the time is offset to WA’s timezone because the Aneroid site seems to present to client time. It would be nice if someone in WA or SA could confirm this by going to the link below and reporting back what time is presented above the top right of the map in the greyed block (I’m in Vic and it says “Fri 13:50 EST”)

          http://energy.anero.id.au/wind-energy

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      Another Ian

      Greg

      “Paul
      20 minutes ago

      OK from this website http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/how-the-south-australia-blackout-occurred-what-the-data-tells-us-65806.

      proving the absolute danger of using renewables. On Wednesday peak demand was 1686MW with 659MW plus 384MW (equals 1043MW) provided by wind and a total of 535MW supplied across the Interconnector.

      Right that means Torrens as the only base load generator was generating a piddly 108MW (1686 – 1578MW). Torrens has a capacity to generate over 1200 MW of power. This means many units were either shutdown or on standby. There is no way a base load generator could have picked up 1000MW in such a short period of time.

      So if Torrens been running over 1100MW Adelaide would NOT have been blacked out as we do not rely on Northern transmission lines to supply power from Torrens to metropolitan Adelaide where the bulk of electrical demand lies! Northern areas would have been load shed but NOT Adelaide.

      From my inside sources only three Units were generating at the time due to the large supplies from Wind Farms shutting down the remaining 5 Units!!! This means Torrens had NO capacity to pick up the required shortfall. Had we been less reliant on cursed Wind Farms Torrens with the majority of Units on Line WOULD HAVE PICKED UP THE SHORTFALL!!

      Renewables are the cause! Case closed! Punch On Leftist Apologists!!! ”

      A comment at

      http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/how-they-gloated-when-sa-blew-up-its-last-coalfire-generator/news-story/d6696033c643af217f2801deaa7916da

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        Chris in Hervey Bay

        Your figures are correct. But here are some additional details from my reliable source at the time of the trip.

        The interconnectors were at almost full capacity.

        Heywood at 430mw
        MurrayLink at 105mw.

        Only one generator at Torrens was operational at 108 mw. There are 8 with a capacity of 160 mw each.

        There was no way Torrens was going to pick up 1043 mw in a short time.

        The interconnectors tripped on over load.

        The downed transmission lines were automatically isolated in the north which reduced the overall demand.

        The state was left with a 160 mw generator to supply the whole state, 1686 mw less what the downed transmission lines were supplying.

        Result, blackout, state wide.

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        • #
          Rereke Whakaaro

          The information I have confirms both this, and Another Ian’s prior information.

          It now appears that network operations were based on a normal maximum peak load, plus an engineering margin for safety. I have seen no mention of a “once in an x number of years significant event”, being considered, nor accepted, at the political level – i.e. protection against this sort of event was probably not funded.

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          Greg

          According it this account, it was the geographically decentralised location of the wind farms which resulted in them being isolated from the major concentration of demand.

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      • #
        OriginalSteve

        So in a nutshell, green ( socialist ) hubris plus zero knowledge of engineering plus a desire to trash our capitalist ecomomy = blackout…..

        I wonder what the lead time on tar and feathers might be?

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    pat

    SA stuff begins about 1min20secs in:

    AUDIO: 12mins01secs: 30 Sep: 2GB: Alan Jones – Jennifer Marohasy
    Alan talks to the academic and author about climate change, flooding and the South Australian blackout.
    http://www.2gb.com/article/alan-jones-jennifer-marohasy-1

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  • #
    Analitik

    StopTheseThings is wrong. Both TonyFromOz and I commented on the way that the windfarms dropped out indicated the grid collapsed first. Some farms were running at very high capacity but overall was only around 70%. SnowTown was the only farm that seemed be curtailed at the time of the blackout.

    Paul’s video seems to back up our view on the sequence of events – I wish he had left off the pricing analysis stuff on this to make the event sequence clearer and get to the point more quickly. A separate video showing how wind affects pricing in a “normal” day would be better for that purpose.

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      crakar24

      This is not possible, once again

      The time stamp on that graph shows sudden wind drop out at approx 2:30pm, the black out happened at 3:48pm

      scenario one, time stamp in AEST

      Wind power dropped at 2:00pm in SA 1 hr 48 minutes prior to the black out

      Scenario 2, time stamp in CAST

      Wind power dropped at 2:30pm 1 hr and 18 minutes prior to the black out

      How on earth do you arrive at the conclusion that the grid collapsed before the windy mills did?

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      • #
        Analitik

        http://energy.anero.id.au/wind-energy/2016/september/28

        Isolate for SA and subtract an hour for AEST vs SA

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        • #
          Analitik

          Or watch Paul’s video and jump to the 8:35 mark

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        • #
          crakar24

          Time zones……….

          WA are GMT +8 hours or (GOLF)

          SA are GMT +9.5 hours or (India_Kilo hence the half hour difference with Victoria)

          Vic are GMT +10 hours or (KILO as above)

          So by your logic i isolate for SA (whatever that means lets say GMT +9.5 hours) then subtract an hour (so ok now GMT + 8.5 hours) then what?

          What time zone reference do we use for the time on the graph? Is it ZULU? once again your gibberish has been exposed so once again I say go and get an education

          Once again your gibberish has been exposed

          07

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          Analitik

          Sorry, I meant to say “subtract half an hour”

          Actually, the Aneroid site seems to create time markers local to the client (easy enough by the server checking the client IP address to get approx location and offsetting appropriately). Jo is in WA so you need to add an hour and a half to her graph. If you’re still in SA, then the time markers should be as per the local event time.

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            crakar24

            I will need to check the website from another network to get the graph working, will respond in more detail then.

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        • #
          Ross Stacey

          1/2hr difference S.A time to AEST? Not 1 hr.

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  • #
    Dennis

    JARED OWENS
    Daniel Andrews lashes out at Malcolm Turnbull, accusing the PM of peddling “ignorant rubbish” over renewable energy.
    The Australian

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    pat

    ***freudian slip in the sub-heading. ***bring renewable energy costs*** should be followed by “down” presumably, even if it’s a lie. GE, Vestas already have contracts for wind:

    29 Sep: ClimateChangeNews: Ed King: World Bank calls on Vietnam to avoid coal
    Top development lender is working to ***bring renewable energy costs*** for developing countries, says chief Jim
    Jim Yong Kim said leaders in Hanoi are considering plans for up to 40 gigawatts of new coal power, believing it will be cheaper than solar, wind and other forms of renewables.
    “When I ask them about using renewables they say ‘we would but it’s too expensive’,” he said. Coal is 9 cents a kilowatt hour and the tariff for solar is 12-13 cents, but “there’s no need for it to be that high…
    “We are bringing to the table all the tools we need to bring the costs down significantly and quickly.”…
    Recent data from the Vietnamese government indicates coal imports rose nearly 200% in the last 12 months…
    “When we realised agreement at COP21 there were a lot of people who think we have done the job,” he said. “We celebrated so long that the hangover is just starting, but where is the platform on which we can say these are our priorities?…
    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/09/29/world-bank-is-urging-vietnam-to-avoid-coal/

    doesn’t sound like ratification to me:

    29 Sep: ClimateChangeNews: Ed King: India outlines conditions for Paris climate deal support
    India passes last legal hurdle before formally joining UN climate pact, but cabinet lists a number of caveats
    That means “predictable and affordable access to cleaner source of energy” and continued signs that other countries are also curbing their use of fossil fuels, read the statement.
    It also means “availability of means of implementation” (more cash) and the need for developed countries to meet their promise to make tougher carbon cuts in before 2020…
    The country aims to deploy 175 gigawatts of renewables by 2022 – more than two-and-a-half times total UK electricity capacity – but is still expected to ramp up coal use to meet rising demand…
    (TERI think tank head, Ajay) Mathur also suggested wealthier countries should start considering “negative” emission targets in response to a question on climate justice…
    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/09/29/india-outlines-conditions-for-paris-climate-deal-support/

    it’s only approval to ratify, so will India indeed ratify on 2 Oct as announced previously, with caveats included?

    28 Sep: Cabinet approves ratification of the Paris Agreement
    The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement (on Climate Change) on 2nd October 2016, the day of Gandhi Jayanti…
    While agreeing to ratify the Paris Agreement, the Cabinet has also decided that India should declare that India will treat its national laws, its development agenda, availability of means of implementation, its assessment of global commitment to combating climate change, and predictable and affordable access to cleaner source of energy as the context in which the Agreement is being ratified…

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    John Watt

    Forget the actual sequence of events. Whatever the reasons the people and industry of SA have been dealt a body blow. It would be enlightening to see the security of supply analysis supporting the SA supply sys5em. What level of loss of supply risk did Mr Weatherill’s government sign up for on behalf of their constituents? Ill weather indeed!

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    pat

    30 Sep: South China Morning Post: For the Paris climate deal to succeed, the money must flow
    Agustin Carstens and Patricia Espinosais say the (ratification of the Paris) agreement is a triumph for multilateralism but it needs to be backed by both financial systems and private capital
    (Agustin Carstens is governor of the Bank of Mexico. Patricia Espinosais is executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change)
    Next week, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank welcome an influx of finance ministers and central bankers to its annual meetings in Washington.
    At first glance, these two events might appear totally unrelated…
    Right now, progress is being made towards mobilising US$100 billion in annual financing flows from rich countries to developing economies by 2020. Practical implementation is also taking place on the ground. Funding from the Green Climate Fund is helping to build resilience into coastal and urban infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, while in Tanzania over 100,000 homes now have electricity through Off-Grid Electric, a clean energy company backed by debt financing from the Million Solar Homes Fund.
    Yet, overall, the cost of making the transition to a low-carbon future is measured in trillions. This quickly takes us far beyond the realm of public funds since no government – no matter how rich – can finance climate action through taxation and borrowing alone. One estimate suggests that around ***US$90 trillion will need to be invested by 2030 in infrastructure, agriculture and energy systems, to accomplish the Paris Agreement…
    ***Moreover, set against the US$300 trillion of assets – held by banks, the capital markets and institutional investors – we’re faced with a problem of allocation rather than outright scarcity.
    In fact, finance ministers and central bank governors are already deeply engaged.
    ***Those from G20 nations recently agreed a set of options to improve the ability of the global financial system to deliver green investment…READ ON
    http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2023588/paris-climate-deal-succeed-money-must-flow

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  • #
    Geoff Sherrington

    Further to nuclear needed in Australia, I am waiting for anyone to tell me what we know to cause us to shun them, when much of the rest of the world does not.

    Global nuclear capacity reached 383 gigawatts (GW) in 2015, driven primarily by nuclear additions in Asia. Currently, 31 countries have nuclear power programs, totalling 441 operating reactors. An additional 60 reactors are under construction in 15 countries, adding 59 GW of electricity generating capacity over the next decade. Plans to add another 90 reactors (76 GW) have been formally transmitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by 8 countries.

    Hazelwood power station in Victoria, with thoughts about its closure, is 1.6 GW and some 5% of Australian electricity production. There are many nuclear systems of 1.1 GW being installed globally. It’s a natural fit, don’t you think?

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      Rod Stuart

      Australia (and NZ too) suffer from a debilitating, terminal disease.
      There is no cure for TMSG.
      TMSG is an acronym for Too Many Stoopid Greens.

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    Delurked Lurker

    The Pylons came down due to Tornados…from the evidence of the damage they look like they were F1 or F2…The trees were clearly twisted and snapped halfway up the trunks not uprooted like you would see if they were simply knocked over by gale force winds. In addition to this there is now photographic evidence of the Tornados in particular sweeping through a town called Blyth in the mid north of SA. The supercell storms responsible for these tornados were clearly visible on the radar

    This has happened before with tornados taking out the pylons in that area, but the last time it happened we had coal backup in Pt Augusta so there was no state wide blackout. Local blackouts sure but in those days we had a robust grid….ah the good old days before the green blob got its hooks into the people

    Not Happy Jay ! ( I live in SA)

    –Thanks for this detail! – Jo

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      Andrew McRae

      Lurkers should decloak more often. (But then they’d have to choose a name that isn’t “lurker”.)

      Hello, lurkers!

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    PeterPetrum

    Slightly OS, but related. Josh Frydenberg invited readers of the Australian newspaper to send in questions re the SA issue and power reliability.

    One reader asked him when he was going to instigate a debate on CO2 and climate change. His answer …..

    “The Government is not engaging in a debate about the science of climate change, we accept it. The debate, however, which we are having is what is the most efficient and effective means of emissions reduction and how do we meet our targets in away that priorities energy security.”

    “We accept it”!!! Pathetic, coming from our Minister for the Environment.

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      el gordo

      Which is precisely why I voted informally at the last election.

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      • #
        Dennis

        And why I voted for a minor party in the Senate rather than for a government candidate or candidates.

        What really angers me is that these MPs who are supposed to represent voters will be long gone when their squandering of our monies and elevating the cost of living hits hardest.

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    The Price and Demand spreadsheet for South Australia Elecrical Supply September shows that SA was paying up to $13,650.15 per MWh for electricity on the day of the blackout, as part of the startup and stabilise. Other states were paying less than $55.00 per MWh.

    Ref: https://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Data-dashboard

    —Thank you! – Jo

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    dlb

    The Greens are blaming coal (what else?)

    How about Josh Frydenberg, Malcolm Turbull and Nick X.
    The Greens and progressives have gone apoplectic at their comments.

    50

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    Delurked Lurker

    By the way the media have problems with Tornados in Australia…they refuse to acknowledge they exist and keep referring to them as “mini” tornados…no such thing. I have seen them with my own eyes and even though the biggest was probably only an F1 it was not “mini” by any stretch of imagination.

    If you believe that CAGW is real then why on Earth would you invest in infrastructure that increases the risk of damage from adverse weather events…it defies all logic.

    I suppose that is what you get when politicians think they are electrical engineers… something about a pissup in a brewery comes to mind.

    It struck me how fragile our civilization is. Even if you kept the battery in your mobile phone charged the cells towers batteries died after 4 hours…we lost our cell tower about 30 minutes before the power came back. Now imagine a Carrington type event in which every generator on the planet is fried as well as our entire satellite system, not to mention the computers in our cars, planes etc, etc…I fear it would spell the end of civilization as we know it.

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      dlb

      Actually I though it was the other way round, every time a house lost its roof the media would use the term “mini” tornado to add a bit more drama.

      Now they have got a bit more sciency with “super cell storm” for every hay shed that topples over.

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    pat

    30 Sep: Tim Blair Blog: IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY
    VIDEO: Timelapse Reveals Full Scale of Adelaide Storm
    Deakin University poulie Ben Eltham also has a powerful case of the sads:
    TWEET Ben Eltham: I’ve lodged a complaint with the ABC about this Chris Uhlmann article on the SA blackout. I argue it is inaccurate.

    LINK ABC: Chris Uhlmann: SA storms: Rushing to renewable energy targets puts sector’s reputation at risk
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-29/rushing-to-renewables-risks-sector's-reputation:-uhlmann/7888290

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/blogs/tim-blair/in-the-name-of-all-that-is-holy/news-story/49cf0ea5f91f66cb6b87d64abde7adab

    btw Uhlmann still thinks renewables are the future, & just doesn’t want to see their reputation trashed.

    speaking of “holy”…the once anti-religious New Statesman embraces religion & hails “SIR KING”?, with some porkies about Trump along the way!

    27 Sep: New Statesman: India Bourke: Can religion trump the climate change deniers? Meet the inter-faith environmentalists
    The role of faith in fighting intolerance, protecting the planet, and trumping Trump.
    Prepped with tea and pitta bread, attendees bore witness to a talk by Sir David King – the Foreign secretary’s special representative on climate change. By 2035 the world needs to be at net zero emissions, King explained…
    Sir King also described the Pope’s 2015 environmental encyclical as an important part of the “crescendo” that set the stage for the successful negotiations on the global climate deal…
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/energy/2016/09/can-religion-trump-climate-change-deniers-meet-inter-faith-environmentalists

    the writer above:

    LinkedIn: India Bourke, Broadcast Journalist
    DPhil Researcher, University of Oxford September 2014 – Present
    Senior Researcher, BBC June 2013 – June 2014
    Education
    MA Oxford University
    Master of Arts (M.A.) AHRC fully funded, English Literature… 2009 – 2010
    University of Oxford
    BA, Modern History & English
    2005 – 2008
    https://uk.linkedin.com/in/india-bourke-3b4a1749

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    Robert Rosicka

    Message to all in SA , a paper has just been released about your lack of rainfall due to globull warming (WUWT ) is this a Friday funny or has the ANU lost its mind .

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    David Maddison

    Serious damage done to SA’s two blast furnaces. Of course, most people (present company excluded) these days would’t even know how steel is made or where it comes from…

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/the-states-two-blast-furnaces-are-in-serious-trouble-following-the-storm-with-the-port-pirie-smelter-out-of-action-for-up-to-two-weeks/news-story/c7b496663e93c6bf55cdbf8e0c9f7ca2

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    David Maddison

    We can only fantasise about nuclear power in Australia but here is a look inside an experimental reactor at Sandia National Labs as it does a maximum power pulse generating 35GW for 7mS. I haven’t looked into the purpose of this experiment but it’s interesting to observe the Cherenkov radiation.
    https://youtu.be/Sb9i-toCcwg

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    David Maddison

    Optimists think that this will be a wake up call about the uselessness of Green energy but think of how else this may go.

    Another poster yesterday suggested that the next move by the SA Government might be to back up the entire grid on battery storage, i.e. make a compulsory (or optional) roll out of Tesla Powerwalls.

    Do you think this power crisis will bring people to their senses or just encourage more Green madness (battery storage)?

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      ianl8888

      The evolving political tension, long before any truly reliable technical report that will in any case be denied in full to the public, is between the two maddie Premiers Andrews and Weatherill and Waffle.

      If we sit back and observe the nuances being played out, the ABC as supporters of waffle are running the line that renewabubbles are the way of the future but the technology hasn’t matured sufficiently yet – just as Waffle and Frydenberg are spouting. Andrews and a more muted Weatherill are still defending their own recklessness.

      But none of them are admitting that the windmills brake themselves when wind velocity reaches a design-defined speed, or that the RET forces power suppliers to use wind when it is available, thus making the coal, oil and gas generators too expensive to maintain as backup.

      These points will become completely lost over the next day or two of yelling.

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    Another Ian

    About now I’d suggest that people get access to the Peter Sellars and Co production of

    “How to win an election or at least not lose by much”

    and have a listen to the interview with the Labour Minister for Transport

    I can’t remember his name but the Conservative equivalent was Sir Orson Carte

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    yippiy

    Will we never learn from history? SA cannot rely solely on power supply from interstate.

    In the 1940’s SA was subject to frequent blackouts, as all power came from coal-fired stations in Adelaide. Problem was that the coal came from Newcastle on the East Coast by sea; consequently supplies were subject to the whims of unions in mining, docks and shipping. I am surprised that SA obtained any coal!

    Premier Playford decided that such intermittent supplies of coal were not acceptable. He initiated development of the Leigh Creek coalfield to feed a new power station at Port Augusta – Playford power station was commissioned in 1954. Thus, problems of disrupted fuel supply and electricity diminished considerably.

    Now, thanks to the headlong rush into “renewables” by idealists, the Playford station is shut down (as uneconomic !!!!) we are once again dependent on interstate power supply for our baseload power; the rest of the story is more than adequately given above.

    It is just history being repeated by those for whom history is old hat, have one hand on the heart and the other deep in anybody else’s pocket.

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      PeterS

      As a result of the blackout the Greens now believe they need to increase their relevance on renewable energy in order to prevent the storms from occurring. How dumb can one get?

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    Another Ian

    Hmm.

    From above and some mine

    Suggestions for the renaming of the SA political establishment so far

    Premier Mr Ill-weather or Mr Weather-ill or Mr Weather-dill

    Party (with windmills to the fore and good Irish tradition)

    Fianna Flail

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    bobl

    May I put a closer on my arguments today.

    Remember too that a typical 1MW Wind tower consumes 5Ha has an average output of around 170kW and a minimum output of -10kW (that is they consume power to bring them to sync speed and in big ones to avoid bent shafts). The Tonnes of Iron, Steel, Copper and Concrete that goes into building them and the energy used in their maintenance along with the loss of carbon sinking capacity of the trees they replace in the environment means that the Windmills are a nett CO2 cost, that is per MW of generation on a lifecycle basis they emit around 1.7 times more CO2 than coal power.

    Put another way, if you committed all the output of SA’s windmills over their ENTIRE LIFE subtracted the energy needed to save just the CO2 that trees on the land they occupy would sink, and then use the remaining energy just to make and maintain Windmills (Including mining and smelting/making the materials they use) you would not be able to make enough windmills to replace the existing ones at the end of their life!

    This is how stupid our governments have become. Not one kg of CO2 has ever been saved by a windmill. All this pain for Nothing, Ziltch!

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      tom0mason

      Well said!
      Has always been my point.
      Only when all components parts of a windmill can be made using power generated at windfarms alone then they will be renewable.
      Until that happens the are just an utter waste of material resources, time, and effort.

      The same goes for solar panels.
      Renewable? NO!
      Saving CO2? NO!

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        bobl

        Tom,

        I’d go further, you have to be able to build windmills using windmills, but you also need to make enough electricity for all the service vehicles, construction equipment (electric of course), you need to offset any loss of CO2 sinks, and even power the offices of the company that runs the windfarms, the fraction of BHPs overheads making your steel etc..

        Plus of course you ALSO need to be able to power society.

        Windmills and Solar are a big failure by this measure.

        The reason it “Seems” to work out is that those things aren’t being done in South Australia. In essence they are just importing energy expended elsewhere. Big Batteries in essence.

        Just Green Math in action.

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        bobl

        Another remark for the economists out there.

        A good quick litmus test is this.

        If Windmills sold energy at the cost of the energy used to make them (say $50/MWh) could you make a profit? If the answer is no then the CO2 benefit is probably also very close to zero because energy input is very close to 50% of the cost of infrastructure assets. (even without considering CO2 sinks lost by razing 5Ha per windmill)

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    PeterS

    I understand that Victoria and Queensland want to follow SA’s lead and move to 40%+ renewable. I wonder if the recent event will alter their thinking? I doubt it. In that case, and if NSW retains its common sense and sticks with coal, I look forward to all three states to have frequent blackouts and ever increasing electricity costs, which will result in one thing. NSW will be the only growth state whereby businesses and people will be leaving the other states in droves.

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      Another Ian

      Peter S

      As in #51

      They’re all the “Fianna Flail Party”

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      Ross Stacey

      Don’t forget NSW coal power stations are old and will need replacing soon. Will the Libs stay in power and have enough sense to build a new. Large capacity modern coal power station. As long as the Comm. govt refuses to discuss CO2 , I very much doubt that they will.

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      Greebo

      I’m not a betting man as a rule, but I’d wager that Dan Andrews will now become even more determined to plunge Victoria, and thus SA and Tassie headlong down the path of intermittent future. To think that we have two years and two months before we have any prospect of getting rid of him fills me with despair. Damn Bracks and his fixed terms.

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    pat

    ***the word “prestigious” gets more annoying by the day:

    30 Sep: ABC: Betting the Farm: Farmers confront climate change
    Climate change is here, and Australian agriculture is acutely feeling the effects. Three farmers explain how it’s impacting their lives and livelihoods.
    By Jo Chandler for Background Briefing
    Real-world observations of temperature spikes, pasture growth and grape harvests across southern Australia reveal that the landscape is heating up at rates experts did not expect to see until 2030.
    In some instances the rates of warming are tracking at 2050 scenarios.
    Scientists concerned that climate change is biting harder and faster than models anticipated are campaigning for more research investment to protect Australia’s $58 billion agriculture industry from extreme weather.
    Background Briefing has learned that their concerns about the capability of Australian research to address climate change will be validated in an independent review by the ***prestigious Australian Academy of Science…
    The review, due for release in the next few weeks, has identified a substantial shortfall in the nation’s climate research firepower.
    It’s understood that the review will recommend that the number of scientists working for CSIRO and its partners on climate science needs to increase by about 90. That is almost double the current number of full time positions…
    Hear Jo Chandler’s full investigation into the impact of climate change on Australian agriculture on ABC RN’s Background Briefing at 8:05am on Sunday…
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-30/farmers-confront-extreme-reality-of-climate-change/7887720

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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      pat:
      Garbage about grapes being affected. I know one local grape grower cum wine maker who put temperature data loggers out in his vineyard. It converted him from a believer in global warming to, if not a full blown sceptic, at least one with very real doubt about warming.
      Incidentally he is near one of the towns reported by BoM and he gets overnight low temperatures in summer far lower than BoM reports. Of course he is in a rural setting and a few miles from their instrument so that comment lacks relevance.

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    pat

    read all for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s “aspirational” target talk & more:

    30 Sep: AFR: Mark Ludlow: Arrium sale plans hit by SA power crisis
    The Arrium administrator says the South Australia blackout has been a serious hit to the confidence of potential buyers for the struggling steelworks.
    Administrator Mark Mentha said “energy self-sufficiency” is high on buyers’ agenda and that it may require a broader policy shift with government help.
    It now looks like Whyalla steelworks is facing a week without full power which will cost an extra $30 million across the operations, Mr Mentha said…
    As the state continued to patch up its power network after Wednesday’s super-storms, energy experts cast doubt on whether Labor state governments will achieve ambitious renewable energy targets, saying they will push up power prices and destabilise the National Electricity Market…
    There has also been a growing sense of frustration about the lack of detail about how states are going to achieve their respective targets…
    Mr Turnbull on Friday said Victoria was vulnerable to a SA-style blackout because its renewable targets were unrealistic and were distorting the NEM…
    South Australian-based economist Darryl Gobbett, who is chief economist of consultancy firm Baillieu Holst, said his state had gone too far down the path of renewables and risked public confidence in the electricity network…
    “We have gone too far down the path of renewable energy to maintain public confidence in renewables. We need more domestic base load to have more resilience in the system,” Mr Gobbett said.
    “That’s why there needs to be an overall review of how the SA network is supposed to work. Once Hazelwood [power plant in Victoria] is turned off, my concern is the whole south-east of Australia is going to become more reliant on wind. The resilience in each state or across the network is going to decline and that worries me.”…
    http://www.afr.com/news/politics/arrium-sale-plans-hit-by-sa-power-crisis-20160930-grrzot

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  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Is SA’s power state run or a privately held corporation?

    I’m asking because I wonder what the real incentive to maintain SA’s grid really is. I think you all can guess that I think private ownership, even if regulated because it’s a monopoly, does a better job than state or city run utilities. Political influence messes up almost everything, including electricity.

    It will be interesting to see what the final verdict on your SA outage is — if anyone can come to an accurate understanding of it, considering the political football it seems to be.

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      Roy Hogue

      Actually, I’ll make a guess that SA’s entire system is state run.

      Add renewables and as I’ve said previously, you’re dealing with perhaps thousands of producers each making a trivial contribution and very complicated to manage.

      How did the world get into this condition? Has no one the ability to think things through before doing them?

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        David Maddison

        Has no one the ability to think things through before doing them?

        Apparently not. This is the outcome of the deliberate dumbing down of the education system over the last 40 or so years.

        20

        • #
          ianl8888

          … deliberate dumbing down of the education system …

          That’s one of the reasons, I think.

          The most influential though is the MSM. Through these outlets, the information flow is deliberately controlled (not perfect, of course, but quite effective).

          How this is done has been the subject of many posts, and the various collections of Pat here chronicle it as well as may be. But the WHY has been missing – Noble Cause Corruption. The various entities within the MSM (from journos to editors) see themselves as players without the messy necessity of elections and find this power to their liking. Because the information flow is controlled, any other source of information, such as websites outside of the MSM, is to be pounded into oblivion. And such pounding increases in intensity and purpose in direct relation to the perceived audience reach of the offending outlet.

          It is beyond my ken as to how to counteract this. Although most people will and do say that they don’t believe what the MSM tells them, this is patently untrue … people simply refuse to believe that they can be lied to on such a deliberate, frequent basis.

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            Another Ian

            Somewhere recently there was a post on the use of release embargos to co-ordinate the simultaneous appearance of items over the msm.

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            beowulf

            I’ve said the same thing in the past, and it isn’t just the MSM and the education system at fault. The received wisdom is shoved at us from the most obscure directions for the most spurious of reasons. Global warming somehow worms its way into official talks on road safety or defence or health care. The populace is brain-washed. Anyone who imagines that they can win this war over pseudo-science by simply quoting scientific facts at people is having themselves on big time.

            With due sympathy for the people affected, the SA disaster is the first event of the magnitude that it will take to shake people out of their zombie mind-set. The SA stuff-up is prime fodder for the media even if it is spun as the fault of the storm or the interconnectors. At least it draws the attention of the pollies and the people to a subject that has until now been utterly taboo and sacrosanct. We have a green PM fighting with green premiers over bird choppers. That’s gotta be a positive result in anyone’s book.

            For once the media couldn’t ignore a significant event that didn’t suit their customary preconceptions. They need disasters to sell papers and any disaster will do, especially when it sends an entire state back to the stone age. Headlines created the monster called global warming and only headlines will defeat it. Sure it would die a natural death over a century or whatever, but I’d like to see it with a stake through its heart long before I die.

            AndyG55 and others here have in the past pinned their hopes on the coming downward temperature trend to sway the people. I hope they’re right but I think it might take the Thames and the Potomac to freeze over again like they used to before Mr & Mrs Average will see that Downing Street and the Whitehouse have been telling porkies. Never in ANY field, have so many been deceived so badly, for so long, by so many others with vested interests.

            So, bring on more localised Green shambolic disasters for the good of the majority.

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        Graeme No.3

        No, it is run by private interests. The network got sold off to pay for the debts run up by Labor last time they were in power. It is still a sore point with many that the old ETSA was sold because they are told time and time again that wind electricity is clean and cheap, so they assume that the price rises are due to greed not the extra cost of wind and solar.
        Just to complicate matters the various generators are owned by separate companies, and the public has to deal with a third set of (retail) suppliers. And the State Government interferes whenever it feels like it, e.g. 5 levels of feed-in tariffs for solar PV, more and more wind farms etc. I think I will need 2 generators.

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    Roy Hogue

    Recently we went through about a 6 hour power outage while Edison did unspecified upgrades to their system. That is the longest outage I have ever been through. It was announced to all customers in advance so we could be prepared. It was done during daylight so no one would be in the dark without working lighting.

    There is another upgrade now approved. Edison takes keeping things up and running very seriously.

    Unscheduled outages happen. Most are brief. Several have been a couple of hours long. Sometimes they are after dark so it’s necessary to keep flashlights handy. But overall our power is reliable enough that I don’t worry about what a power outage could do to our computers — something that could be ultimately benign or cause a lot of harm to a disk.

    Sorry to say, I do not envy SA. However, California is now moving toward 50% renewable energy sources mandated to be in place by law by 2030. I’m contemplating what kind of nightmare will result.

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      David Maddison

      Roy, I am curious about that California law. Does it mandate that 50% of electricity that is consumed be renewable or is it 50% of installed nameplate capacity? And will it allow the importation of electricity from outside of the state to make up for the deficiencies of the Intermittents? Or didn’t the politicians think that through yet?

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      • #
        Roy Hogue

        David,

        I really don’t know that answer. But I would assume it means nameplate capacity just on general principle because that’s the number you can “measure”, whereas what’s consumed is variable with load changes and is an impossible target to nail down.

        As far as importing power from out of state, I believe we already have that going on to some extent. But again, I’m not following the situation that closely. When the great California energy reform was passed I gave up on expecting sanity from my government. I can only watch the headlines, read the published details and, frankly, be alarmed by it all but I can’t influence it.

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        • #
          Sean

          I can’t speak to the 50% nameplate vs. actual but I do know California imports a lot of hydroelectricity from out of state, mainly from the Columbia and Colorado river hydroelectric dams. I also think they import a lot of solar from Nevada and Arizona and wind from as far away as Montana so there is a lot of opportunity to get things from other places but I’m not sure for how long. But I think their leadership in non-carbon power generation could be their undoing. The hydroelectric power they get is very inexpensive and masks the price spikes from solar and wind. But Oregon has just decided to close all its coal fired generation meaning they’ll have less excess capacity to sell to their neighbor to the south. Additionally, they closed 3 nuclear reactors at San Onfre a couple of years ago and plans have been put in place to shut the last major nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon. So between shutting down nuclear and others making demands on out of state hydroelectric, California’s biggest hope may be in more aggressive de-industrialization. Fortunately, they’ve got the regulatory structure to make that happen.

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            Roy Hogue

            You are correct about importation of power from out of state. I did a little research.

            San Onofre had reached the end of its life and it’s rather foolish to try to run a nuclear plant past that point because safety begins to become a real issue.

            Diablo Canyon is also getting close to its safe lifetime and will close down for the same reason.

            Both nuclear plants, by the way, have absolutely no injuries to anyone to their credit, this in spite of a small radiation leakage at San Onofre.

            Hoover dam is in trouble from buildup of sediment behind it and when the sediment reaches the inlets to the turbines, which are as high as they could be made, it’s all over for Hoover as well. And with the inlets being high the whole thing is vulnerable to a lower water level because of sustained drought.

            And through all this Sacramento sits there like a bump on a log without a clue.

            Deindustrialization is already happening and will continue to kill jobs and that kills the state’s tax base and I’m sitting here wondering if I’m watching a death spiral out of control or if there’s still some hope for recovery. Everything modern civilization does depends on electricity.

            At the same time they rush headlong into renewables while reliable power is disappearing or in danger of disappearing, Jerry Brown still wants his high speed electric train. I don’t follow that fiasco anymore but when I last heard, it had been pared down to a shorter line running from nowhere to noplace — just a demonstration project as it were. I wonder what they think will supply the electricity to run it in a more and more electricity starved state.

            If you want a good place in America that’s still got its head screwed on facing straight forward, go to Texas. But the pressure is on them to make the wrong decisions too so the future is anyone’s guess at this point.

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    • #
      David Maddison

      Australia is becoming the laughing stock but I guess the Gangrenes and Labor will enjoy the periodic excursions to the Stone Age as we can expect more massive grid failures as the Green Dream embeds itself further.

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    David Maddison

    Why wind and solar is bad. Video 4 min 23 sec
    https://youtu.be/ObvdSmPbdLg

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    • #
      David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz

      WOW.
      Thanks David.
      I won’t include all my thoughts here, as my praise might look like falttery.
      Strongly reccomend it, for its clarity of message,and presentation, including volume.
      Well found,
      Dave B

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    David Maddison

    I used the term Green Dream above but this also corresponds to the nickname given to the sodium pentobarbital euthanising solution used to sacrifice animals in the lab I used to work in. The substance was in a bottle that had a very rough pattern moulded into it and it had a fluorescent dye in it to minimise the chance of confusion with other pharmaceuticals.

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    Robber

    AEMO issues LOR (Lack of Reserves) notices. AEMO may declare Lack of Reserve Level 1 (LOR 1), Lack of Reserve Level 2 (LOR 2) & Lack of Reserve Level 3 (LOR 3) conditions based on defined trigger points for each sector of the grid.
    The LOR condition checks for contingent reserve in a region. The LOR Triggers are calculated as follows:
    LOR1 Trigger = Capacity of the largest two Gens in the region
    LOR2 Trigger = Capacity of the largest Gen in the region

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    Robber

    Normal AEMO operations are still suspended in SA.
    During the period of market suspension as far as reasonably practicable in the circumstances, AEMO intends to follow the process for generation dispatch below:
    AEMO intends to move towards a situation where the central dispatch system is more reflective of how the system is being operated and generation is dispatched.
    This will assist in an orderly transition to normal market operations, once the Market suspension is lifted
    AEMO’s first priority in the dispatch of generation is to ensuring system security and stability
    AEMO will dispatch all available scheduled generation at its minimum load.
    Generation required above scheduled generation minimum load to meet the South Australian current demand will be met with semi- and non-scheduled wind generation.
    If the wind generation is inadequate to make up this difference, scheduled generation will be further utilised.
    In additional to the above considerations the following will also be assessed when dispatching wind generation:
    Current and forecast wind speeds
    Potential for cut-out at high wind levels
    Ability to operate at the required output, if limited to provide a certain output.
    The requirement to maintain minimum load on scheduled generators
    The Heywood interconnector is being utilised as the reserve for the loss of the largest generator or the Murraylink interconnector in the South Australian region. This interconnector is therefore run at no more than the interconnector limit minus the largest generator in the South Australian region.

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    New Chum

    Huge financial losses, I hope the class action lawyers don’t scare the horses.

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    Reed Coray

    I want to thank Jo for this thread.

    I don’t even have a gut feeling whether SA’s increasing use of wind and solar power was the cause of SA’s recent electrical blackout. The comments on this thread have been enlightening; and if anything, increase in my mind the likelihood that such is the case. I had a vague notion of the issues associated with combining electrical power from two or more sources; but I had no idea of the magnitude of the real-world issues involved with efficiently and safely supplying large amounts of electrical power to a grid. The comments on this thread have convinced me that there are levels of knowledge and competence associated with safely and reliably supplying electric power to a city, state, nation, etc. Environmental considerations are and should be a part of this process. However, it comes as no surprise to me that when idealistic people rather than knowledgeable people control the process, the likelihood of process failure becomes significantly higher. If there is measurable merit in the idealistic ideas, then maybe the price of increased-likelihood-of-failure is warranted. However, in this case I believe the merit of reducing man’s contribution to atmospheric CO2 by converting from fossil fuel generation of electric power to renewable generation of electric power is almost devoid of merit. When the harm and added cost such a conversion entails are included in the analysis, the case for “solar and wind renewable electrical energy generation” for large groups of people becomes, in my mind, non compos mentis.

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    Amber

    Maybe more blackouts will “solve” global warming fear mongering .
    Why not survey consumers and ask them if they would agree to pay 50% more for their energy ? If there was a market
    the utilities could easily charge those that want interruptible bird blender power the 50% premium to feel
    self righteous rather than wreck the quality of lives of the rest of us . A win /win .

    No credible science organization claims humans are suddenly going to start controlling the earth’s temperature
    to some committee’s liking . So given that Mother Nature will continue to run the climate show
    ego tripping humans can put their money where their mouth is and quit being hypocrites .

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    redress

    There is still something seriously wrong with the South Australia power grid despite our bring told that its all hunkey dorey now….
    bugger all power being generated and nearly all gas fired……
    No Vic interconectors on line…
    no solar, well too cloudy ain’t it and bugger all wind power being generated…….
    So what is really happening with the SA grid.

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/nem-watch

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    redress

    There is still something seriously wrong with the South Australia power grid despite our being told that its all hunkey dorey now….
    bugger all power being generated and nearly all gas fired……
    No Vic interconectors on line…
    no solar, well too cloudy ain’t it and bugger all wind power being generated…….
    So what is really happening with the SA grid.

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/nem-watch

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    observa

    Another warning-

    5. CLOSURE OF NORTHERN POWER STATION

    The Northern Power Station (NPS) performs an important transmission network voltage control service at the Davenport 275 kV substation in the Upper North of SA. Closure of NPS will remove this voltage control service.
    ElectraNet initiated system studies to identify potential network adequacy and security limitations resulting from the withdrawal of NPS. Those studies, and a review of past operational experience, have revealed the following limitations under certain credible demand and generation scenarios: 

    Reactive power margin – at times of high Olympic Dam demand, moderate to high system demand, and low wind generation in the Mid North of SA, reactive power reserve margins may not be met at the Davenport 275 kV connection point. 

    Over voltage – operating the Davenport 275 kV connection point voltage above 1.05 pu (which occurs for the majority of the time to mitigate against the risk of voltage collapse at Olympic Dam) is expected to result in over-voltage at times of low wind generation in the Mid North of SA for the loss of the Olympic Dam load. 

    Voltage collapse – for N-1-135 conditions the system would be at risk of voltage collapse for certain operating conditions. Further, switching a 50 MVAr reactor into service at Davenport at times of low wind generation in the Mid North of SA may cause a voltage collapse. 

    Reduced wind farm output – the combined output of the two Eyre Peninsula wind farms is reduced by 20 MW (by way of an intra-regional generation dispatch limit) when NPS is not in service.

    ElectraNet analysis shows that the withdrawal of NPS will create challenges for transmission network voltage control in the Upper North and the Eyre Peninsula regions of SA. These challenges will arise for a range of system demand levels at times of low wind generation in the Mid North of SA, and also for any N-1 condition in the Upper North.
    ElectraNet intends to initiate a Regulatory Investment Test – Transmission (RIT–T) to procure the most economic network or non-network solution that resolves the issue.

    https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/PDF/Joint-AEMO-ElectraNet-Report_19-February-2016.ashx

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    observa

    We were warned back in 2014-

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    In recent years wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation has increased as a proportion of the total generation mix across all National Electricity Market (NEM) regions. This has been driven largely by climate change policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions in Australia, and advances in technology making alternative energy sources more cost-effective.
    South Australia (SA) has the highest wind and PV generator penetration of any NEM region. At present, SA has about 1,470 MW of installed wind generation and 540 MW of PV generation. This represents about 50% and 17% of total installed wind and PV capacity in the NEM respectively.
    In terms of residential rooftop PV installations, SA leads the NEM with a penetration rate of almost one in four (25%) of all rooftops. Under favourable market and policy scenarios, it is projected that at least 1,000 MW of wind and 500 MW of PV capacity will be added in SA by 2020.
    While these developments benefit SA and the NEM, having a high proportion of wind and PV generation can present a risk for SA if the Heywood Interconnector link to Victoria is disconnected at a time when all local conventional synchronous generators are offline. This occurs as wind and PV generators, by themselves, are not able to provide the required controls to ensure system security.
    While the probability of this risk is low1, the potential consequence is a state-wide power outage with severe economic and possible health and safety impacts.
    Given this, SA is a relevant case study for assessing the secure operation of the power system with a high concentration of non-synchronous wind and PV generation.
    This joint study has been undertaken by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), as the independent market and system operator responsible for NEM system security and reliability, and SA transmission network service provider (TNSP) ElectraNet, to fulfil its planning and operational responsibilities.
    The study investigates the impact of non-synchronous wind and PV generation on the SA power network and analyses:
     Operation of the SA power system with low levels of thermal synchronous generation online.  Power system frequency control in SA, particularly under conditions when the SA power system is or could become separated from the NEM.

    It concludes that the SA power system can operate securely and reliably with a high percentage of wind and PV generation, including in situations where wind generation comprises more than 100% of SA demand, as long as one of the following two key factors apply:
    a) The Heywood Interconnector linking SA and Victoria is operational. b) Sufficient synchronous generation is connected and operating on the SA power system.

    Specifically, the SA power system can operate securely when the Heywood Interconnector double-circuit alternating current (AC) lines are connected, or at least one key conventional synchronous generator (e.g., Northern Power Station, Pelican Point, or Torrens Island) is online.
    A very low probability but worst-case high-impact scenario is a state-wide power outage should the Heywood Interconnector AC lines be disconnected for any reason when no synchronous generator is online.
    The Northern, Pelican Point, and Torrens Island generators provide the required frequency control and regulation to maintain the SA power system in a secure operational state. They also provide power system inertia, and contribute to the management of voltage limits.
    Changing market factors could see less synchronous generation operating in SA, affecting the SA power system’s ability to maintain required power system control in the future.

    https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/PDF/Renewable_Energy_Integration_in_South_Australia_AEMO_Electranet_Report_Oct_2014.ashx

    Localised tornado/s in 1:50 yr weather event brings down well engineered transmission towers in that area and traditionally you’d get a localised or regional blackout but instead we get a cascading blackout of the whole state and then 3 hours to 3 days to slowly fire up the whole state again and there in black and white is what the experts in the game told us could happen with increasing penetration of subsidised unreliables. And that after SA wholesale prices spiked to $9000/kwhr in July. Just who are the deniers out there now?

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    observa

    oops.. $9000/MWhr not kwhr

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    truth

    Could the destruction of the towers be due to RESONANCE?

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    Ignatius

    FYI the frequency of the supply grid must average exactly 50Hz so clocks powered from and synchronise to the supply remain accurate.

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    Joe Public

    Looking (closely) at the blue-sky section of the image “Transmission tower knocked over in Mid North South Australia” shows the transmission lines not pulled down.

    Unsure how many of the reported downed towers didn’t pull down their transmission lines.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-01/transmission-tower-knocked-over-in-mid-north-south-australia/7895368

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    An interesting problem is how to restore power after a huge failure. It takes power to get a generating facility up to speed (it even takes power to get a wind turbine. At the very least, you’ll have to defeather the blades).

    In the northeast US’s blackout of 1965, some of the restoration credit is given to MIT. From http://lists.herald.co.uk/pipermail/lois-bujold/2014-May/151537.html :

    The US grid/grids are so interconnected, that “the Great Northeast Blackout” occurring in the 1960s was a cascade failure involving a power surge that spread, knocking power plants offline with the the load imbalance then knocking the plants further down/up the distribution system offline. Only someone who disobeyed the protocols prevented the outage from extending even further. And then the grid’s local abilities to restart were essentially nonexistent, the assumption which was not one which ever got completely considered, was that there would not be a general outage–the assumptions further assumed that outages would be patchy and adjacent facilities which were still operating, could reboot the offline facilities.

    The Great Northeast Blackout ended when MIT ran the dynamos it normally used for generating magnetic fields at the then-Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory backwards, they came to a total stop in 17 seconds, but those 17 seconds were enough to reboot generators in the city of Cambridge’s grid, and start the reboot of the rest of the grid. Those generators at MIT, though are long gone (MIT never lost power, it normally operated independently… MIT shut off the lights on the Great Dome because MIT was the essentially the only place in the northeast where th blackout hit which had power and which power was “normal” and not emergency power. MIT shut off the dome lights to not look ostentacious/avoid ticking off the hundreds of thousand of people without power whose locations included a view of MIT.

    Another widespread blackout occurred some years back somewhat further west in the USA, despite the lessons that were supposed to have been learned from the Great Northeast Blackout. Apparently they’d been forgotten and only lip service paid to them, and to things like maintenance, investment/investing in equipment maintenance, and spending money on equipment which suppresses surges/prevents-or-stops cascading failure modes.

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      Good background. Thanks Ric!

      I am impressed the SA engineers managed to reboot it during a storm and with so much useless wind power and non-working solar.

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    jim2

    I just wanted to make this point once again as it will provide definitive proof if the transmission lines were powered up or not. If powered up, there will be melted metal somewhere. Pits in the lines, line supports, or pylons themselves. Those won’t wash away. You’ve no doubt seen videos of power lines shorting out by some means. You see a lot of sparks. Those sparks are flying molten metal!

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    betapug

    No wind “farm” schemes that I have seen, involve the promoters paying for and assuming responsibility for the additional grid infrastructure needed to deliver and balance their profit guaranteed, quality indifferent, intermittent produce.
    The more extended the required extension of the grid interconnections, the more exposed to localized damage it becomes. The promoters having usually flipped their interests and moved on to Greener pastures, it would be hard to “hold them accountable” anyway. Besides, the entire system is “computer controlled” so nothing can go wrong….right?

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    James

    I remember back in the early 90′s after the State Bank debacle, people would joke, that the last person to leave South Australia, please turn out the light. Looks like these days the lights are already out, and people are still leaving due to the excessive electricity prices.

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    Greebo

    Meanwhile, in Victoria

    Wind speed hit 111km/h at Mt Hotham on Sunday, with Mt Gellibrand recording 102km/h and Melbourne Airport 93km/h.

    . Nothing to see here…. Few houses damaged, a few lost power ( falling trees ), otherwise business as usual.

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    observa

    The video with Andrew Dodson is an eye opener too, not that you needed much intelligence to realize attempting to make a reliable power system from many unreliable generators was bound to end in tears.

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    A new thread on the AEMO report. Lots of details to the tenths of seconds…
    http://joannenova.com.au/2016/10/sa-blackout-three-towers-six-windfarms-and-12-seconds

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    rk

    Some back ground on wind turbines. The National Renewable Laboratory in the US has found that gear boxes fail on average around every 4/5 years over all makes and on any large turbine the cost is in excess of $600,000. They admit they don’t know the reason why. Because this has been an ongoing problem in Germany for many years the German Insurance industry will not insure wind farms unless they replace the gear boxes every five years.

    The reason gear boxes and bearing fail is because the designers don’t understand the forces involved. It is impossible in very strong winds associated with severe Thunderstorms to effectively feather the blades as regardless of whether the blades are driven mechanically to a horizontal position, that does not protect the blades or the whole structure.

    What happens in severe thunderstorms associated with a front is that the wind veers 180 degrees quite suddenly from the other direction with the passage of the storm and on top of that the major factor would be downbursts well above 150 klms per hour with accompanying large hail and lightening. The stresses from this sort of weather lead to all sorts of failures when the downburst would be driving all the blades downwards at once.

    Wind turbines are also not very efficient at providing reactive power to the grid which is critical for voltage control. The recent S.A storm was not an extreme event and we have had far more severe thunderstorms in previous decades. With temperatures around 21C it is not possible to get the vertical development for really severe storms. The Bureau of Meteorology are devoid of forecasters that know much about severe storms and cyclones. In 51 years of aviation and having flown as a Domestic Airline Captain I have encountered lines of storms over 300 miles long with tops to 70,000′and hail in the 6-7″ size in the 1970′s – the current Bureau don’t even know what the definition of a severe thunderstorm is.

    I will provide Jo Nova separately with a presentation by a wind turbine engineer of these failures which I can’t get to download here

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    Mark

    I would like to know how old the towers where that got taken out by the storm and when their service life was due to finish I think this may have been a factor I was once told by an engineer in QLD that heaps of the towers where miles past the expected service life and needed replacing but until they fail governments are inclined to ignore the issue.

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