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South Australian electricity is coming your way

Posted By Jo Nova On February 9, 2017 @ 9:14 pm In Global Warming,Renewable | Comments Disabled

Yesterday 90,000 customers lost power in SA (making it Blackout Round 5 since the big one last September).

This time it was due to load shedding.

SA power woes to spread nation-wide, starting with Victoria, Australian Energy Council warns

The Federal Government needs to take urgent action to improve its energy policies before the rest of Australia falls victim to the type of large-scale blackouts experienced in South Australia, the Australian Energy Council has warned.

It’s not just that renewables muck up the electricity supply (with frequency and instability issues), they also drive a pike through the energy market. These are two separate disruptors. We’ve seen inexplicable spikes in power prices in SA in seasons when it shouldn’t happen, but this might be a new form of volatility. Wind power produced 900MW earlier in the day, but that fell to below 100MW within 6 hours (which is not that usual, see the post yesterday for the graph). The problem, apparently, was that no one thought it was worth turning on their generators?

SA has enough generation (if only it was running), but when the crunch came, the market failed:

It asked for more power generators to be switched on but did not receive “sufficient bids” and said it did not have enough time to turn on the second unit at Pelican Point.

AEC chief executive officer Matthew Warren said there was no shortage of electrons and available power, but it was not dispatched when required.

The “free market” will be blamed, but the energy market is not a free market — but a bit of a creeping Soviet style takeover. The government subsidizes some, punishes others, then has to pay some not to produce, and when the punishees start to go broke it has to pay them to standby “as needed” or nationalize them. We are not free to choose our energy supply. Retailers are not free to compete. If you wanted to build a power station with your own funds and sell cheap electricity to willing consumers, the government would not let you do it.

A few more insights come from this article:

But AEMO executive general manager of stakeholders Joe Adamo said they did not have enough time to switch on the plant yesterday.

“When we were talking to Pelican Point, it was decided that the lead time for Pelican Point to actually bid into the market was too short a timeframe and as such we had to take the load shedding action,” he said.

The operators of Adelaide’s back up power station at Pelican Point, ENGIE, said in statement it could not provide additional power for South Australia unless directed to do so by AEMO.

Note the costs:

Another storm in December forced the power distributor to announce compensation payments totalling $20 million to about 75,000 customers after lengthy blackouts.

WA Labor has just promised to go to 50% renewables and look quite likely to win in four weeks at the state election. We are a small grid with no connection to the rest of the nation. South Australia can’t make it with 40% renewables and two interconnections. WA is aiming for 50% with no interstate back up and a depressed economy. This’ll “be fun”.

Things must be getting serious – SA Liberals are talking about maybe, possibly, could be, the nuclear option.

To appreciate just how dire the situation is, ponder that this is the same leader who ruled out a low level nuclear waste dump in SA:

Despite opposing a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia, state Liberal leader Steven Marshall is now proposing nuclear power as a potential solution to the state’s energy reliability issues.

Looks like A-Grade hypocrisy:

…today he said that did not mean he or his party were against the production of high-level nuclear waste in South Australia, via nuclear energy generation.

So making high level radioactive waste is fine. Storing that medical grade stuff is out of the question.

This is strong language from an Australian politician: “We’ve never ruled out the nuclear opportunity for energy.”


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