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Another hidden cost of intermittent renewables (It’s time to talk about FCAS and roaring price spikes!)

50Hz, 60 Hz, FCAS, Frequency Control Auxillary Service.

The shape of normal AC Electricity: 50Hz (230V) and 60Hz (110V)

Nobody says much about FCAS in public  — but it’s become a hot topic among Australia’s energy-nerds and electricity traders. It never used to be a big deal, because we got it at very low cost from huge turbines — from coal, hydro, and gas. Suddenly, it is costing a lot more. As I discovered below, in one month FCAS charges in South Australia rose from $25,000 to $26 million. Wow, just wow.

What is FCAS?

FCAS means”Frequency Control Ancillary Service”. With an AC (or alternating current) system, frequency is everything — the rapid push-pull rhythm that is the power. FCAS is a way of keeping the beat close to the heavenly 50Hz hum (or 60Hz in America and Korea). Network managers cry when things stray outside 49.85Hz or 50.15Hz. So controlling the frequency is a very necessary “other service” supplied by traditional generators, but not so much from intermittent renewables.  Large spinning turbines “do” FCAS without a lot of effort. And the cost used to be a tiny fraction of the total electricity bill, but it is rapidly rising in Australia, thanks to the effect of the RET (Renewable Energy Target).

Academia and the ABC finally mention FCAS this week

Never heard of FCAS? When there is a problem with renewables, the legacy media and academics don’t want to mention it. But when renewables have any benefit, let the free advertising flow.

FCAS has been a growing problem for years as the level of renewables increased. Way back in 2011 the AEMO forecast that 20-fold price rises in FCAS were coming (see below) but all our academics at The Conversation and journalists at the ABC were silent year after year.  Lo, this week, The Conversation and the ABC suddenly discover FCAS.  Apparently it’s OK to mention it now, because the much loved giant battery of South Australia may have the antidote to the problem that was never said:

In addition, the incredible flexibility of the battery means that it is well suited to participate in the Frequency Control Ancillary Service market. The Frequency Control and Ancillary Service (FCAS) market is less known and understood than the energy market.

Having discussed FCAS in order to rave about The Battery, it was time for a green-academic to say something bad about coal. On cue:

The role of these markets is essentially twofold. First, they provide contingency reserves in case of a major disturbance, such as a large coal generation unit tripping off. The services provide a rapid response to a sudden fall (or rise) in grid frequency.

Those naughty coal turbines, just tripping out like that a couple of times a year (or decade) or so, what ever it is. Let’s not mention that wind and solar are tripping on an hourly basis.

The Conversation author isresearcher at the Australian German Climate and Energy College, University of Melbourne.

His priorities:

“Size matters but role matters more”

As the Australian consumer would put it:

“Forget the role, and tell me the cost!

The Convo-ABC doesn’t mention the cost. So I did some digging, and oh, what a surprise?

In 2011 FCAS costs in the National Electricity Market were predicted to rise 20-fold in a decade

The AEMO warned about the rising costs of FCAS in 2011. Back then they predicted charges for FCAS would rise from $10m – $200m by 2020 and the sole cause was “intermittent energy” and the RET. Even so, this is a small part of the total energy bill which is more like $12-$20 billion.

The following major findings relate to Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) in the NEM:

The Regulation requirement increases substantially in response to the LRET. The Regulation requirement increases from the present value of ±120 MW to around ±800 MW in 2019-20 in scenarios with the LRET. This increase is entirely driven by the projected increase in intermittent wind generation installed. In the absence of the LRET the Regulation requirement increases only slightly to ±200 MW due to demand growth.

Regulation costs increase substantially in scenarios featuring the LRET. In response to the increased Regulation requirement, ancillary service settlements increase from $10 million pa2 (for Regulation + Slow Contingency services) to around $200 million pa in scenarios with the LRET. As the Regulation requirement increases, more expensive FCAS bids must be utilised, increasing FCAS settlements. However, it is noted that if the FCAS market were to increase so substantially it is likely that many generators will change their FCAS bidding strategies in ways that are challenging to predict, so these results should be considered to have a high degree of uncertainty. The application of a carbon price would exacerbate this effect.

Regulation costs remain small compared with energy settlements. Despite forecast increases, Regulation and Slow Contingency service costs remain small in comparison to anticipated energy settlements of $12 – $20 billion pa ($50 – $80 /MWh) in 2019-20.

What does FCAS cost today?  It only took 2 minutes of searching to find these projections from 2011. Shame the Melbourne University  and ABC don’t seem to think cost is important to the people who may be paying their grants and salaries.

The Roaring price spikes of FCAS:

Usually the cost of FCAS in South Australia is about $840 per day across the whole state but in October 2015 it rose from $25,000 a month to $26 million!

What is FCAS?  by Tennant Reed, on AiGroup (Australian Industry Group)

Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) is a market through which electricity generators are paid to slightly raise or lower their output in order to keep the electricity system within its operating frequency of 50 Hertz +/- 0.1 Hz. The frequency drops when generation reduces or the load increases, and vice versa. It is usually a very cheap service: SA requires about 35 megawatts of FCAS, which is usually purchased from interstate suppliers for $1 per megawatt per hour (or $840 per day across the whole state).

In October 2015 the SA FCAS market price repeatedly spiked to the cap price of $13,000 per megawatt per hour while the interconnector was largely down for upgrade work and FCAS had to be procured within SA. The three local providers (AGL, Origin and Engie) bid extremely high prices to supply FCAS. Once prices exceed a high price threshold for 7 hours, AEMO is able to impose a lower cap of $300 per MW per hour for one week. Prices spiked, were capped, and spiked again repeatedly through October. The total cost of this episode, split across energy users and generators, was around $26 million – rather than the $25,000 FCAS would ordinarily have cost.

Time to pay attention to FCAS methinks! It may only be a small part of final electricity bills, but it is changing more than most other components. Something is going on…

Comments by Rod Stuart and here, may help other readers get up to speed. Commenter Robin Pittwood recommends Kiwithinker for posts about grid stability.

H/t Robert and Peter, Rod Stuart, Robber.

Image: Wikimedia Commons by Pieter Kuiper

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133 comments to Another hidden cost of intermittent renewables (It’s time to talk about FCAS and roaring price spikes!)

  • #
    Reed Coray

    Hide a problem until someone has a potential solution. Another example of the AGW world’s motto: Presentation trumps substance.

    290

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      And wish hard enough and it will happen. I wonder if Father Christmas will be expected to replace reindeers with unicorns.

      210

    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      Presentation trumps substance.

      Not only that, but a lot of sensitive medical apparatus is reliant on that frequency, by design, since it has always been a reliable standard.

      So the problem is more about people dying, than Network Managers crying. Unless, of course, they are found culpable.

      150

  • #

    These posts may help explain too. http://www.kiwithinker.com/category/power-system-stability/
    I am also working on a transient disturbance model; a time domain simulation where you can model the effect of changing inertia and various governor, load shedding and fast frequency response. Cheers from over the ditch.

    260

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    I have just come off the SA Power Network site for consumer comments about future developments and there is no hope for Australia. Almost without exception those commenting didn’t understand the very simple explanation and wanted to “have their cake and eat it too”.

    Most don’t, and I think won’t, understand how the grid functions and think that they should be able to cut their bills by installing solar and get a rebate for feed-in, and the grid has to be changed to meet their wishes. Phrases like ‘decentralised production’, ‘flexibility’ identify the brain washed. One of the suggestions was that future solar installations must have storage. Outrage! The cost of batteries is too much (at least that has got through to most) so either batteries should be subsidised or pumped storage installed across the countryside. No mention of cost, where the money is to come from, nor how big these pumped storage schemes would have to be.

    The most ludicrous suggestion was that in times of high renewables output, industries would turn on those machines requiring lots of power. And the rest of the time? And at the rate that companies are shutting down in SA surely the least likely “solution” ever to be available.

    Unless there is strong action to prevent installation of more renewables then the Australian grid is going to collapse. More and more backup and FCAS will be required forcing up prices as well. The endless drip of Green propaganda about renewables being clean and cheap has wiped out any hope of rational debate about planning for the future. Those who can afford it will go off grid if they can and the electricity bills will rise and rise until those who can least afford it can pay no more and must do without. Pointing out the need for continuous supply will be dismissed as coming from “coal lovers” or “right wing troglodites”.

    So in the future the greens will want people to power their mobile phones with the otherwise useless PV solar panels on the roof and heat their houses in winter with wood fires. No doubt they will claim that this reduces emissions.

    521

    • #
      RickWill

      Allowing intermittents to connect to the grid was a fatal mistake. The only Australian state where it has some economic merit is Tasmania because the state is 100% hydro and the intermittents extend storages. In all other states intermittents have doomed the grid as an economic entity.

      The latest additions to SA grid, costing $550M, have come from general revenue. The SA network is beyond cost recovery from consumers because it is lower cost to make your own including a battery.

      Something that is yet to dawn on most is that the grid scale intermittents will be producing into an ever diminishing load. That means their capacity factor will be well below the unconstrained output. If Victoria had a similar proportion of intermittents to SA the 600MW link would no longer provide the sinking and sourcing capacity it does now. That will have a huge impact on the economics for SA wind generators.

      It must be dawning on project proponents that the grid is in terminal decline. That should cause investment in grid scale intermittents to dry up.

      190

      • #
        James Murphy

        One only has to look at Wind power in SA – according to AEMO, registered capacity increased from 547 MW to 1,698 MW in 2016–17, but wind generation only increased 21GWh, from 4322 to 4343 GWh. Madness to say the least…

        Net imports from Victoria increased from 1941 GWh to 2725 GWh , and diesel generation increased from 8 to 27 GWh over the same time frame…

        140

      • #
        truth

        They don’t know what to do about it. This smells of PANIC to me.

        http://reneweconomy.com.au/rooftop-solar-australias-greatest-opportunity-greatest-risk-86420/

        AEMO’s Zibelman’s pretty pleased with SA….apparently planning to use SA and Victoria as a template for the rest of Australia.

        She says, ‘“AEMO is looking at it how we are going to operate a system that looks like South Australia, with a lot more renewables and a lot of distributed generation.”

        She says resistance is futile so we all just have to suck it up.

        She lo-oves the big battery and the very problematical solar thermal with molten salt storage plant.

        Zibelman says of Australia’s energy future, “It is going to be vastly different. What that difference is, we really won’t know until we get there.”

        That’s good to hear isn’t it?

        http://reneweconomy.com.au/zibelman-resisting-energy-transition-like-trying-to-resist-internet-79095/

        She’s running her great experiment to see how long a modern economy can survive before collapsing without synchronous energy…and we’re in the petri dish…or maybe we’re the lab rats.

        Zibelman’s made squillions out of her own RE-related software companies…amid a fair bit of ‘conflict of interest’ controversy… so I’m wondering if she sees a huge market here for herself…in trying to rescue a country/economy in the aftermath of the intermittent energy suicidal nightmare she looks like creating for Australia.

        One thing’s for sure…she’s going to spend an awful lot of Australian TPM for this HOAX…one way or another.

        00

    • #
      sophocles

      You’re right. Most of those commenters can’t see beyond the single phase domestic supply. Electrical power is distributed as three phase alternating current for efficiency and economy, mostly.

      Three phase power is needed by industrial equipment. Domestic PV panel supplies are puerile and insignificant when compared with the power consumed by three phase machinery.

      It’s distributed as alternating current or AC again for efficiency. Fifty or sixty cycles per second AC are the common frequencies. AC distribution does not have the high and basically unsustainable losses of DC, thus enabling hundreds of miles of distribution instead of just 5 – 10 miles. It is simple to convert reliably to and from different voltages for long, medium, and short haul.

      Frequency control is not just important but necessary. It ensures the three phases remain exactly in step with each other, 120° apart. Things will quickly “let the smoke out” if they’re not kept in step.

      Power would be much more expensive but for the 3 phase system. It also provides significant economies in electrical wiring over single phase systems.

      110

      • #
        RobK

        Sophocles,
        Historically AC was useful because it arced less when switched and voltage was easily stepped up or down by transformers which were robust equipment. Three phase is useful because it is essentially a rotating magnetic field when put through inductors, so really good for motors.
        With modern equipment DC transmission is making a bit of a comeback because it is actually efficient and now more easily controlled by solid state gear. For a long time it was more specialized like for undersea transmission with rotary frequency converters at each end.

        90

        • #
          Yonniestone

          It all started with the War of the Currents,

          In the late 19th century, three brilliant inventors, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, battled over which electricity system—direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC)–would become standard. During their bitter dispute, dubbed the War of the Currents, Edison championed the direct-current system, in which electrical current flows steadily in one direction, while Tesla and Westinghouse promoted the alternating-current system, in which the current’s flow constantly alternates.

          I recall one of Edison’s ideas to overcome DC’s losses over distance was to build small coal fired plants along the line to maintain a current, imagine the lefty heads exploding if that was suggested now!

          91

        • #
          Rereke Whakaaro

          … a rotating magnetic field when put through inductors, so really good for motors.

          And really good for three phase generators, arc welding equipment, and pottery kilns.

          Plus, you don’t need a neutral wire for long-range transmission. Local distribution uses four-wire – three phase plus neutral, to make it easier to drop the voltage for local supply.

          All-in-all, it is the most efficient means of distributing energy that we have found. That is why the greenies hate it. It is unnatural to their sensibilities.

          Life is meant to be hard, dammit!

          120

        • #
          Chris in Hervey Bay

          From Siemens,

          Whenever power has to be transmitted over long distances, DC transmission is the most economical solution compared to high-voltage AC. Two remote AC systems, with a distance of typically 300 to 3000 km (and more), are coupled together via an HVDC transmission line such as an overhead line or a DC cable. One converter station terminal is usually located close to the power generating station, while the other station is located near the load center.

          From, Power Technology, https://www.power-technology.com/features/featurethe-worlds-longest-power-transmission-lines-4167964/

          Rio Madeira transmission link, Brazil
          The Rio Madeira transmission link in Brazil, with an overhead length of 2,385km, is the world’s longest power transmission line. The 600kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) bipolar line was brought into commercial operation in November 2013 and is capable of transmitting 7.1GW of power.

          40

      • #

        Sophocles, I think it is better to be technically correct. DC is used for long transmission (very high voltage with small current). I think it was first shown in Sweden with the hydro which has DC generators
        Here in Australia the Basslink between Victoria and Tasmania is DC see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basslink. I believe it is easier to change the direction of the power flow with DC. Note computers run on DC and so do many lifts in buildings. I believe there are many new high rise buildings that distribute DC to the various units.
        Do not know what will happen to Victoria and Tasmania if the Loy Lang Power station is closed.

        21

        • #

          A further comment- I think the old phone system used to be DC and so was the signalling system beside railway lines. I have a feeling that the electric rail system and trams (Melbourne) work on DC. The rail and phone systems in NSW used to have their own power stations.
          With DC it is easier to have seamless speed control on motors. However, technology has developed cheaper equipment to give variable frequency to change the speed of AC motors.

          00

    • #
      Hanrahan

      Almost without exception those commenting didn’t understand the very simple explanation and wanted to “have their cake and eat it too”.

      I reckon less than 10% know ohm’s law [I learnt it 60 yrs ago] and therefore can’t discuss power logically. This is OK if they know they don’t know and don’t try and tell others what they should do. Sadly the vocal greens have NFI and refuse to listen when you try to inform them.

      I think most greens have no idea just how much power we use [they know the figures but don't understand the magnitude]. If they did they would forget batteries, centralised or distributed.

      110

  • #

    The incredible flexibility of the battery means that it is well suited to participate in the Frequency Control Ancillary Service market. No doubt.

    What is not mentioned is the incredible inadequacy and incredible perishability and incredible costliness of the battery. I’m sure if you were to string together enough electric toothbrushes they too would be well suited to participate in the FCAS market. What’s beyond incredible and verging on miraculous is that the Convo can still find mouthpieces who keep straight faces while uttering the words “South Australia” and “Elon Musk”.

    But let’s just hope Oral-B don’t make any hundred-days-or-free offers to Jay.

    290

    • #

      mosomoso — great idea. Let’s add up the combined battery power of electric toothbrushes in SA. What kind of MWh can we get? We could give out toothbrushes, AND save teeth! We just need a few super-puters and a few circuits to control them…

      201

      • #
        Graeme No.3

        Alternatively we should rate green ideas as “enough to supply X electric toothbrushes”.

        170

      • #
        Lionell Griffith

        When I read these stories about how good renewable energy is going to be, I have a hard time not seeing MWh as milliwatt hours rather than megawatt hours. If milliwatt hours could do the job, the green dream could be a reality. A factor of a billion means something quite substantial in the real world. If it is not understood and dealt with, the green dream will become worse than a mere very expensive nightmare.

        210

      • #
        crakar24

        The matrix gives us a view of the future :-)

        40

        • #
          PeterS

          I think the future is better pictured by the events of the past, such as the regimes of Stalin, Hitler and many other dictators going back centuries, with the aid of today’s modern technologies. Next stop will be the tagging of people to keep track of their whereabouts. It’s as obvious as can be.

          70

          • #
            Annie

            Aren’t mobile ‘phones doing that already?

            61

            • #
              Rereke Whakaaro

              Not if you have several, disposable phones, and swap them at random. “They” might think you are at home watching the footy, when, in reality, your forth or fifth phone is being used to order the groceries, from somewhere else entirely.

              40

            • #
              PeterS

              Mobile phones are not as yet permanently attached to a person so one can leave them behind before doing something illegal. Perhaps they will be one day though.

              40

    • #
      PeterS

      This reminds me of the crackpots who claim they can build power generators that consume less energy that they produce to end up with free energy. I’m somewhat surprised the global warmists, including the LNP, ALP and Greens, haven’t funded such research. I suppose they are not that stupid, perhaps not yet.

      50

    • #
      ROM

      .
      momosa @ #4

      The incredible flexibility of the battery means that it is well suited to participate in the Frequency Control Ancillary Service market.

      And then there is this from the much vaunted South Australian Battery. ; Explainer: What the Tesla big battery can and cannot do

      Of the 100MW/129MWh in this array, around 70MW of capacity is contracted to the South Australian government to provide grid stability and system security.

      It will likely mostly provide frequency and ancillary services (FCAS) when needed (such as a major system fault, generator trip or transmission failure).

      This part of the battery is designed to last 10 minutes, which sounds short but is long enough to keep the grid stable while slower machines such as gas generators can respond.

      The other 30MW of capacity will have three hours storage, and will be used as load shifting by Neoen for the Hornsdale wind farm, where it will be located.

      Please note: The 30MW and 70MW ratings mean exactly that – it is the capacity at the connection point.

      All is not what it seems with Weatherdill / Muskrat’s battery .

      As you can read above over 70% of the battery’s claimed capacity is contraced to the SA Government to “maintain frequency and ancillary services” [ FCAS as perJo's headline ]

      In short South Australia in destroying its power stations and thereby losing the huge inertia contained in the rotating inertial masses of the turbines and generators in those power stations, no longer has the ability to maintain the critical to operation of everything electrical, frequency stability.

      Which SA’s hyped up wind turbines and even more so solar power having NO inherent inertial capabilities to control excursions from the frequencies which in the case of turbines and solar have to be maintained by electronic capacitators and electronic controls but which lacking a very closely controlled frequency control based on the rotating mass of a frequency controlling generator in a fossil fueled power station, can easily drift off frequency leading to a destruction, literally, of some engineering components and much electronic equipment that relies totally on grid frequency control to very close tolerances for their operation.ie; quite a lot of medical equipment.

      South Australia at the present if its gas turbines are not running and they don’t have high masses and therefore high inertial qualities in any case for frequency control, has relied almost exclusively on the big Vic / SA interconnectors for both power and frequency control.

      Hence Weatherdill has no doubt signed with Musk a contract that Musk and his batteries will guarantee to be able to supply the power in the event of another break down in the SA Grid system, minor or major, the ability to maintain SA ‘s grid stable frequencies of the Australian standard 50hertz

      . And to do tat there has to be a considerable reserve of power to feed nto the grid to keep that
      . Following the recenent all over SA black out, it was Victoria’s grid stability and stable 50 hertz frequency flowing across the two interconnectors at Heywood and Mildura that allowed SA to get their grid and generators up and running again at grid frequency.

      70

      • #
        ROM

        Damn! accidently hit the “post comment” button instead of the “Preview button”.

        continued; abnd I hope you can make sense of this .
        ——————————–
        Hence Weatherdill has no doubt signed with Musk a contract that Musk and his batteries will guarantee to be able to supply both nthe power and the critical back up power to maintain grid frequency in the event of another break down in the SA Grid system, minor or major, and therebye provide the ability to maintain SA ‘s grid stable frequencies to the Australian standard 50hertz

        . And to do that there has to be a considerable reserve of [ battery ] power to feed into the grid to keep that frequqncy stable and to iron out any frequency oscillations which meand feeding power fast into the grid from the battery or extracting power literally in milliseconds from the grid to settle the essential frequency down again and allow normal operation of the grid until the immediate problem creating the instability has been catered for and solved.

        Which of course after no doubt a lot of electical engineering modelling required some 60 to 70% of the total cpacity of the Muskrats atery to be given over to the possibilitynof having to be used to control the SA grid frequncy if it begins to drift from the set frequency.

        And SOMEBODY, somewhere has to pay and pay for that idle but quite useable at this point, capacity of that battery.

        . Following the recenent all over SA black out, it was Victoria’s grid stability and stable 50 hertz frequency flowing across the two interconnectors at Heywood and Mildura that allowed SA to get their grid and generators up and running again at grid frequency.

        50

        • #
          RobK

          ROM,
          So if I read that correctly the frequency control portion (which cost 50mill upfront) will use 70MW inverter for upto 10mins at a time, so say 11.7 MWh a shot maximum. This leaves some 117MWh available for load shifting at the max rate of 30MW, so 3 to 4hrs..they call it three. (or they’ve allowed for a few more fcas shots per charge). At 70MW fcas capacity they really would have been better hanging on the their coal plant..many times the size, more robust, at half the price.

          10

  • #

    No brushing! Just storage. We need to feed the power back into the system. FCAS, doncha know. To start the scheme Oral-B could offer a hundred million units in a hundred days or they’re free.

    You want the tooth, Jo? You can’t handle the tooth.

    140

  • #
    RobK

    The Finkel report touched on these matters of “ancillary services” and “spinning reserves” to protect the rate of change of frequency. I understand SA has a requirement of a minimum proportion of gas generation to fill this need to stability (at a cost). Finkel also required renewballs to have longer ride-through. There can be problems with over-frequency as well as under. Finkel also mentioned problems with reactive power control (power factor) which is difficult to control when perturbed by distributed supply, inductive loads and changing distribution lines. He saw the need for rotary line capacitors (synchronous free spinning motors) and the like. The big battery can do some of these things as a facsimile to real spinning inertia but only to a limited degree because the response of solid state switching under high loads soon becomes ugly with distortion and harmonics, so it’s role is limited. Essentially the big battery is a reasonable match for it’s associated wind farm (battery is 129MWh/100MW, wind farm is 325MW) it is more stable with the battery than without it. It’s still not a patch on a 325MW real power station and it cost a fortune.

    200

    • #
      RobK

      What I see as a developing problem here that the complexity of the grid becomes it’s weakness (aside from cost). Modern instrumentation and control equipment is fantastic compared to only a decade or two ago, however, there is still the problem of fault discrimination: you only have a short time (milliseconds to seconds) to sort out various issues as they arise. In order to do this with electronics the grid will become increasingly sensitive. Then issues such as lightning strikes or solar flares come along, or an element of the protection doesn’t respond as specified and the whole thing falls on a heap. Large synchronous generation is very forgiving in that it’s instantaneous overload against it’s inertia is high and it automatically recycles reactive power.

      110

      • #
        sophocles

        Do you expect those natural problems, lightning strikes and solar flares, to be taken into account? They don’t happen every day, and because they are natural, they can be ignored.

        The Sun can definitely be ignored. It’s not part of the equation, despite it’s size. The IPCC says it’s “constant” and that’s all that’s necessary. The 1859 Carrington Event and the 1989 Quebec power grid shutdown were just “isolated incidents” not to be worried about.

        Tell that to the sun. There was a bigger than Carrington Class near miss in 2014 and an X-class another “Carrington Class” flare earlier this year.

        It’s a case of mind over matter: the Sun doesn’t mind and we don’t matter.

        70

        • #
          RobK

          As the grids complexity and sensitivity increases relatively small transient surges in voltage or current will become bigger head aches. Also, the advanced control gear such as relay controllers with dozens of set points to adjust control parameters need to be coordinated, monitored and maintained. It’s all doable but requires extra supervision (as detailed in the Finkel report…more boards+costs…more complexities and room for error).

          30

        • #
          tom0mason

          Indeed.

          When these thing happen localized ground currents are generated. Elevated ground potentials and currents are a BIG problem!
          Between distant areas large potentials can build, and if connected by power or phone lines then considerable currents are seen between these remotely attached circuit. If the protection circuit don’t catch it, and many will not as they are not designed to look for it, then wiring and equipment will be destroyed.

          40

    • #
      RobK

      Another problem that comes to mind is that many of the renewable/synthetic inertia power sources have limited fault current so a fault situation can arise but the supply simply hasn’t got the fault current capacity to trip the protection protocols and the fault persists leading to other damage.

      60

      • #
        tom0mason

        RobK
        Fault protection of a fragmented power grid with many generators is a vast technical problem anyway, renewable/synthetic inertia power sources just adds more to the mix.

        40

      • #
        bobl

        Actually I was discussing this with a fellow engineer just yesterday, and funnily it had never occurred to me. It makes domestic solar both less dangerous and more dangerous at the same time. Problem is that if you short circuit a solar panel the power delivery is at such a high impedance that the current doesn’t rise much so you can’t use the current change to reliably blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker. This can mean that the fault is sustained which leads to heating at the short circuit and fires.

        20

  • #
    OriginalSteve

    So i wobder at what point do dopey Australuans wake up? Probably when the price of electricity has gone up a mangnitude….but then its too late and the Communists with gummint collusion will have destroyed our economy…although by then rioting will likely break out over widespread fuel poverty…

    140

    • #
      el gordo

      ‘….although by then rioting will likely break out over widespread fuel poverty…’

      The only Australians rioting are small groups of left wing flash mobs causing a scene, which brings out the riot squad for a bit of practice.

      We have the skeleton of a democracy which can be reactivated by new politicians, able to see through the lies, but at the moment there isn’t a charismatic individual within cooee.

      Widespread fuel poverty is unlikely, with Beijing at the ready to assist in any way possible.

      70

    • #
      Yonniestone

      I’ll make a claim right now that any riots or aggressive protests that have or will occur are handled by police according to political orders and NOT the rule of law, backed by a fully compliant MSM this extremely disturbing and dangerous situation has come to be from the gradual acceptance of ever growing over reaching government intrusions into the lives of all Australians.

      The well presented facts above of the FCAS vs renewables will never see light of day in any newspaper, TV or social media outlets that the majority still appear to bother digesting, in fact even if the entire MSM industry collapsed and people had links to alternative information they still wouldn’t bother or believe anything presented as the ability for critical thinking was lost long ago from the laziness of having others to do the thinking for you.

      One of the most impressive ploys of cultural Marxism is how it played on the satisfied apathy of Western societies after WW2 when prosperity and peace gave generations the freedoms to pursue cultural distractions that enveloped large parts of their lives, the tolerant will always lose to the intolerant.

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        el gordo

        We agree that the MSM is complicit, alongside politicians and scientist, in producing propaganda, but the people are unaware.

        Keating is in trouble because of his link to the China Infrastructure Bank and probably Gillard too, she is in Beijing discussing education.

        Cultural Marxism is the Third Way.

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    Pauly

    The problem with renewables is that they have almost no control of generation capacity, and consequently, are incapable of matching system load. While most of the discussion is about the problem of renewables when they are incapable of generating any power, the solution (increasing the nameplate generation capacity to multiples of the needed load) also creates major frequency instability for the grid.

    The instability is exacerbated by the thousands of home solar installations that are entirely incapable of being regulated by the AEMO. Which is why some locations in Australia have placed a cap of 10% of total generation capacity on home solar installations.

    The amazing thing is that the Federal and State governments still have significant incentive schemes subsidizing renewable installations. So the Australian tax payer is being forced to pay for technologies that destabilize our reliable electricity grids; then as consumers, we are being forced to pay the increased cost of infrastructure for all the overcapacity needed to make renewables more capable of supplying the demand; now, we are going to be forced to pay for technologies to make the grid more reliable, because the amount of renewable capacity has created an inherently unstable grid.

    Absolute genius. But exactly what you expect when ideology is more important than reality.

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      OriginalSteve

      I was explaining to a work colleague that the grid needs to be largely re-engineered to cope with “flaky-ables” ( renewables). Another issue is that if people crank up inverter output voltage to sell electricity, the whole grid is in jeopardy. Renewables needs to be capped at 10% total grid capacity, and a ceiling imposed on kwh buy price.

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      FarmerDoug2

      They have the same control over their output as anyone else – shut down a turbine. It detracts from efficiency but thats the real world. Doug

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  • #
    robert rosicka

    Makes me wonder if this dirty electricity is responsible for the battery chargers we have constantly dying.
    In a previous life I worked as a machine mechanic in a large factory and a lot of my machines had very sensitive electronic sensors which were constantly playing up or dying , one day I found out an electrical contractor was replacing equipment in a switchboard and asked why .
    He said dirty electricity or spikes and drops in supply and other fluctuations to the supply caused some of the equipment to blow .
    I then pushed my boss to trial a UPS on one machine and had no trouble with it after that so all similar machines were then converted as well .
    These UPS units were pretty smart and recorded spikes and other fluctuations which were many .

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  • #
    robert rosicka

    On a related subject of how is it these and other costs are passed onto consumers I have a question for other readers of this site .
    Now that I can see a graph of my electricity consumption on an hourly basis I’ve noticed times when consumption spikes for no apparent reason , might be when we’re out might be early hours of the night etc .
    Never anything major but to me unexplainable now what if to counter these spikes in generation price or increased costs with installing diesel gensets they are able to dial in your smart meter and add some fictitious consumption, a little bit here and a little bit there which I’m sure would add up over time .
    That way price increases can be kept to a minimum and we would be none the wiser .

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    • #
      RickWill

      The things that can cause a spike are appliances with automatic controls – fridge, freezer, electric hot water.

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      • #
        RobK

        Rick,
        Anything that can cause a spark can cause a spike…switches under load, brushes of an electric drill or vacuum cleaner(especially when worn-out), motors with a start capacitor switching to it’s run winding. Even some electronic equipment running beyond it’s design limits start to get ugly.

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      • #
        sophocles

        Anything which creates a “reactive” load either capacitive or inductive. Inductive loads are the most common: electric motors are excellent spike generators, as are fluorescent lights (the inductive ballast in the light fitting is the source).

        Switches under load don’t: it’s the load which causes the spark. If the load is resistive, there is little spark at the switch contacts as it opens. If the load has big coils of wire, ie magnetic circuity as do big electric motors, then the voltage spike caused as the magnetic field in the inductor collapses is what causes a high voltage (what used to be or still is known as a “back emf”) and a big spark as the switch opens. So it’s an effect rather than a cause.

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        • #
          RobK

          Hmmm, yes, except if you can switch it at no voltage part of the cycle. You are right the inductive and capacitive response to rapid changes in power cause the spikes…especially when you switch it.

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        • #

          (Here’s one for all you Electrical Engineers out there) (remember CIVIL)

          Try explaining what this means and why it’s just so important.

          Link to Image

          Reactive Load and Power Factor.

          Tony.

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          • #
            Graeme No.3

            Tony:

            Simple. It’s the Sat Nav. directions to Theta avenue.

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          • #
            tom0mason

            This page on Wikipedia has the answer buried in it.
            Can anyone find it?

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          • #

            Well done you guys.

            Have you ever wondered why here in Oz, total power generation is 250TWH, while consumption is only just 200TWH

            Every Watt of power being generated must be consumed, so that 50TWH is a pretty huge difference. That comes in at 20%, while in the U.S. it’s barely 7.8%

            While Australia is huge and losses because of those vast distances involved between generation and consumption are indeed quite large, not all of it is losses.

            You just cannot tell people about Power Factor. It’s so far over their heads it has a vapour trail.

            Just another example of how Mathematics is so important, something that again 99% of the populace has zero comprehension of.

            Tony.

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            • #
              RobK

              Yes Tony, I’ve even heard engineers describe P.F. as Wattless power, which it kind of is except when you have to transmit it, it has losses, heats wires and trips breakers.

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            • #
              Bright Red

              Imaginary numbers i or j take your pick. Real power or imaginary power.
              It took years to learn this stuff. A new definition of impossible would be to explain it to a Green.

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      • #
        robert rosicka

        No electric hot water and there’s no real link to any consumption unless every now and then all the fridges decide to operate simultaneously I suppose that’s a possibility but it’s The randomness of it that makes me wonder .
        I’ll start to switch off a few things at a time overnight and see if anything changes .

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        • #
          RobK

          Rob,
          Have you got possums or rats in the roof space?
          I doubt your retailer can induce consumption spikes, even with a smart meter. You’d have some sort of off peak agreement in some jurisdictions for hot water heating and there’s some trials for Aircons to be load sheded but you’d be aware of those if they applied.

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    joseph

    Why did America set their system up to operate at 60Hz? And is it North and/or South Korea?

    20

    • #
    • #
      RobK

      It’s a historical thing, like driving on the left or right side of the road. India and Western Australia were 40hz long ago. It was said to insure the colony was more committed to buy equipment from the motherland but it didn’t last.

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    • #
      Lance

      Basically, historical reasons. In 1891, Westinghouse was experimenting with different frequency AC driven arc lights. In Germany, that same year, AEG was doing the same thing, but with a different type of light fixture. Westinghouse chose 60 Hz to minimize flicker, AEG chose 50 Hz to minimize flicker on their lighting.

      See: The origins of 60-Hz as a power frequency http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/628099/?reload=true

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    • #
      James

      Japan is interesting, as the north half is 50hz, and the Southern Half is 60hz. This makes it difficult to interconnect, and was a problem when Fukushima shut down suddenly.

      Around buffalo NY was 25hz originally. Up until about 10 years ago there was 25 hz still being distributed for industrial use from 2hydro plants.

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      • #
        Another Ian

        Brasil also. Part of it was 220-240 volt, the rest 110 volt. Due IIRC to where the individual states got their generating equipment.

        Shades of railways in Oz

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        • #
          James

          Do you know if the frequency is the same? Easier to interconnect if it is the same.

          Most houses in the US have 120 plus 240volts. 240 volts for stoves and electric dryers. There are 2 hot (active) wires coming in. Between a leg and a neutral or ground you get 120 volts, between the 2 legs you 240 volts.

          I have run appliances from Australia on this supply. I installed double pole switched power outlets from Australia to achieve this.

          There is a 180 degree phase difference between the 2 legs, not 120 in 3 phase.

          There seems to be a lot of different standards for 3 phase industrial power in the US. You buy a transformer if need be to adjust to the supply you have. Also some motors have multiple windings, you can set them up for different supplies. I recently had to investigate this when considering bidding on a 3 phase machine at an auction.

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        Graeme No.3

        Perth in the 1920′s ran on 20Hz. Due to them buying equipment ordered for Moscow but not delivered due to revolution.

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  • #
    Robber

    AEMO provides a useful explanation here that includes this simple analogy: “To assist in the understanding of frequency control, analogies can be drawn between a power system and the engine in a car. If a car travelling at a constant velocity is presented with a change in load with no corresponding change to the power input to the engine of the car, then the car will speed up (for decreases in load such as that presented by a downhill) or slow down (for increases in load such as an uphill slope).
    In a similar manner, if the load is varied on a power system without a corresponding variation in the generation feeding that power system, the frequency (speed) will deviate”.
    “Some examples of these technologies include:
     Generator Governor Response: where the generator governor reacts to the frequency deviation by opening or closing the turbine steam valve and altering the MW output of the set accordingly.
     Load shedding: where a load can be quickly disconnected from the electrical system (can act to correct a low frequency only).
     Rapid Generation: where a frequency relay will detect a low frequency and correspondingly start a fast generator (can act to correct a low frequency only).
     Rapid Unit Unloading: where a frequency relay will detect a high frequency and correspondingly reduce a generator output (can act to correct a high frequency only)”.
    They also provide large zip files here on FCAS pricing that require detailed analysis.

    The ACCC is also conducting an inquiry into electricity prices, but its final report is not due until June 2018.
    Its latest release says: “Residential prices have increased by 63 per cent on top of inflation since 2007-08″.”The main cause of higher customer bills was the significant increase in network costs for all states other than South Australia. In South Australia, generation costs represented the highest increase”. “The ACCC’s preliminary findings are that, on average across the NEM, a 2015-16 residential bill was $1,524 (excluding GST). This average residential bill was made up of:
    network costs (48 per cent)
    wholesale costs (22 per cent)
    environmental costs (7 per cent)
    retail and other costs (16 per cent)
    retail margins (8 per cent)”.

    You may remember politicians going on about “gold plating” of the grid. I suspect that network costs are escalating because of FCAS and the changes caused by renewables generating variable power in remote locations that must be managed across the grid. For example, in western Victoria we have Ararat and Macarthur Wind Farms with a combined nameplate capacity of 642 MW. So when the wind blows the regional network must be able to cope with that maximum output. But when the wind doesn’t blow the network must be sized to deliver that power from elsewhere. There is a peaking gas station at Mortlake capacity 566 MW about 100 kms south of Ararat and 100 kms east of Macarthur.

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      RobK

      Yes, the chaotic fluctuations from very distributed supply means higher distribution cost due to higher peak loading.

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      Rod Stuart

      politicians going on about “gold plating” of the grid

      One of the most vociferous perpetrators of this nonsense being one Julia Eileen Gillard.
      Take note of the fact that the connection of wind farms into the grid requires the extensive construction of miles and miles of high voltage transmission lines.
      If network costs are responsible for 48% of the increase in the cost of electricity, I think one should look at the capital investment necessary to connect a multitude of windfarms, as was the case during the depth of the R-G-R years. It is unfortunate that the cost of this construction is not attributed to the capital cost of the bird bangers themselves.
      Bear in mind that there are four distinct businesses in the industry; generation, transmission, distribution, and retail. The transmission and distribution businesses are of necessity a monopoly, so return on investment in these businesses is a regulated return on capital. Hence, large capital investment in connecting raptor macerators represents an ongoing cost to the industry as a whole.

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      Hanrahan

      I was a comms tech with the Northern Electric Authority in the ’70s when freq. control was done manually. Kareeya Hydro was often given that task, it was a simple matter of opening and closing the taps for immediate response.

      I may be the biggest fan of hydro. I remember one day the operator telling me that they had generated 110% of name-plate capacity for the month. Manpower was little more than a few operators, a cook and a gardner who also fed the guard dog. :) I suspect that today it would be operated remotely. It has already been operating for 60 yrs and the expensive civil works will last another 160 yrs. Good value!

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    • #

      Thanks Robber, so the big question is whether “Network Costs” includes FCAS?

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      • #
        Rod Stuart

        No, not so far as I know.
        “Network costs” are the cost of operation and maintenance plus a regulated ROI established as a “rate base” incurred in the distribution network and apportioned to the retailers.
        The operation and maintenance and ROI for the high voltage network is generally apportioned back to the generators.
        It can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but that is typically the case in Australia.
        In Tasmania the rates are established by OTTER The Office of the Energy Regulator.

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          Robber

          I’m not sure I trust ACCC’s analysis. If I look at a recent bill, daily supply charge before GST was $1.14/day equal to 20% of bill before GST. The variable consumption charge was 19 cents/Kwhr, overall total cost before GST 24 cents/KWhr. For wholesale costs to be 22% of the total, that equals 5.3 cents/KWhr. Current wholesale costs are about 9 cents, so I suspect ACCC is using average data from the past several years.

          ACCC’s analysis quotes network costs as 48%, or about 11.5 cents. One would think that a big proportion of network costs are fixed, presumably that’s why there is a fixed charge of $1.14/day.

          The Australian Energy Regulator approves network costs each year in some states. In Victoria, for one of the regional network operators, Powercor, Powercor’s submission states: “Network tariffs cover the cost of transporting electricity from the generator through the transmission and distribution networks to our customers’ homes or businesses. Metering tariffs cover the cost of the meter and meter data services. Network tariffs also recover jurisdictional scheme costs which currently comprise the Victorian premium and transitional feed-in-tariff schemes”. It doesn’t look as though Powercor’s costs include FCAS. Feed-in tariffs cost Powercor $22.6 million. Their proposed 2017 tariffs for residential comprise $125/year fixed and 7.64 cents/Kwhr usage. For the average Vic house consuming 4900 KWhr/year, that equals 10.2 cents/KWhr, or about 43% of the total (all before GST). So ACCC’s problem may simply be that they are using old data before the wholesale prices escalated this year after the closure of Hazelwood.

          I also don’t understand why “retail and other costs” amount to 16% of the total.

          So an approximate build up of retail electricity charges before GST is as follows for Victoria:
          Wholesale 9 cents/KWhr
          Network 10.2 cents
          Environment 1.7 cents (presumably this includes the cost of the LRET certificates (8.2 cents x 15% share) and perhaps the feed in tariffs, but not FCAS or higher network costs).
          Retail/other 3.8 cents
          Retail margin 1.9 cents
          That gives a total retail price of 26.6 cents, about 10% above the rate I quoted above. However I understand that retailers will shortly be announcing their new prices for 2018. Stand by for another increase.

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          • #
            RobK

            Robber,
            If it’s anything like WA, there would be many different tariff schedules, even sub categories of domestic, commercial, industrial etc so it would be a bit hard to reverse calculate gross figures from one bill.

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  • #
    Dennis

    When you’re onto a good thing stick to it!

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  • #
    TedM

    Thanks to rod Stuart for his invaluable contribution to this thread. Having a background in Telecommunications (Telecom) and Electronics (ADF) means I could understand his explanation. At least I think I can. Filled in a few large gaps in my understanding.

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  • #
    TdeF

    Basically SA is in a dangerous place with 40% wind power. There is simply not enough mechanical mass generating a steady beat.

    It is not just ‘frequency’ but about keeping all the generators precisely together in amplitude, frequence and phase. If two batteries of different voltage are connected in parallel to double the current, they can destroy each other. With AC, you have to keep the generators together all the time, up and down. It is the chorus line of the Rockettes. A single dancer out of step will bring the lot down.

    This was the marketing battle between Edison and Tesla, champions of DC and AC respectively. The winner was AC because it can be transformed up and down for long distance transmission. Building a grid of thousands of intermittent devices with no steady beat is a disaster waiting to happen.

    Good AEMO article on the problems with SA. SA is close to a world phenomenon in instability.

    Then a National Grid based on wind is inherently unstable. Once one shuts down, the cascade happens as everyone tries to protect themselves. Bringing them back on line carefully can take a day. You can really blow up millions of dollars in a split second.

    Whoever decided to put all the wind towers and solar in South Australia cared little for the result. It is all funded by RET taxes on all Australians and they get paid no matter where the towers a sited, so most are in SA.

    Weatherill is loving the gift of billions of dollars in free wind towers, without thinking it through. Sure the battery will help, but all these systems are private, opportunistic and profit seeking. Electricity prices will just keep rocketing. Blame the coal generators.

    Consider that Weatherill’s diesels are not only worse than coal for pollution, dependent on imported diesel and expensive, he has to pay the Federal RET too!

    Unless of course he just uses the diesel power himself, for his own government and avoids retail sales, so insulating himself, his offices and friends from blackouts. A typical modern politician. Look after yourself at everyone else’s expense and risk. You can also blame the terrible weather, winds which would not raise an eyebrow in Queensland.

    Remove the RET and all this nonsense stops. What I find appalling is that having paid all the RET billions for ‘free’ wind, we have to pay stranger for our ‘free’ wind. At what point is wind energy free and in what way are windmills renewable?

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      Hanrahan

      It is cold and wet in Adelaide today and wind is returning a piddling 151 MW. Electric heaters will be a problem then. :)

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      TdeF

      Basically SA is dependent on the steady beat of VIctoria’s coal generators. If wind towers start going down, Victoria will disconnect and turn a small problem into an instantaneous state wide blackout. It will take days or weeks to recover. Musk’s battery means 4 second of security and perhaps can cover a few windmills going off line. $500Million of diesel generators can provide some inertia. Weatherill, the accidental premier must be planning his next career after the State election on 17th March 2018. They can count the votes by candle light but at least the beer will be cold as every supermarket now has a diesel generator.

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      • #
        toorightmate

        Easily fixed.
        Just get 1,000 batteries and then the state will have 4,000 seconds of security.
        66 minutes is ample time to empty the Olympic Dam and Prominent Hill grinding circuits. So, what’s the problem?

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      • #
        Robber

        Increasingly it seems that AEMO now regards the gas generators in SA as baseload. When the wind blows in SA they keep the gas generators running and export the surplus wind generation to Vic, because if they reduced gas they would lose synchronisation. And then in summer they will fire up the diesel generators.
        Every day the Musk batteries go online to deliver 30 MW for brief periods, presumably still testing their impact on the grid.

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    • #
      Hivemind

      The problem isn’t just the frequency control in South Australia. SA is closing power stations left & right. It relies on those interconnectors to Victoria too much. When they went down last year, the whole state blacked out.

      Now that Victoria is closing power stations too, expect blackouts to extend to Victoria this summer.

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    • #
      sophocles

      Windmills are renewable because:

      1. Every time the wind blows it’s new wind
      2. Every time the windmill generates power from new wind, it’s new power
      3. Every time a windmill falls over, it can be replaced with a new one
      4. Every time a windmill burns out, it can be replaced with a new one.

      = renewable x renewable x renewable x reneable.

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    Hanrahan

    Is the primary problem simple freq. or phase shift?
    Freq. varies with load. There are heavy, short term load changes in Nth. Qld. because of the varying load by drag lines in the coal mines. These load changes are too short duration to be controlled manually, the only partial relief is found by flywheel effect of spinning turbine rotors and a motor/generator with a flywheel in the Moranbah sub station. More gradual load changes are best handled by a hydro station – opening/closing the taps gives an immediate response.
    Phase control is a different matter. Current lags voltage into an inductive load and leads into a capacitive load. Home inverters are inductive so electricity retailers need to install capacitors to phase correct. Nor do they have a flywheel.

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    • #
      sophocles

      Is the primary problem simple freq. or phase shift?

      It’s both. All generators must generate at the same frequency or a generator becomes a load rather than a supply—which lets the smoke out. All generators must generate with the same phase shift for the same reason—or the smoke escapes.

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      • #
        Tim

        Happened to me a few weeks back when I went to start my ride-on mower…. Lots of clicking where the starter solenoid sits, and then the smoke escaped. “FCAS”, I said. (At least I think that’s what I said). Instead of mowing the grass I drank some beer :-)

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    jorgekafkazar

    The Greens intend to FCAS all.

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    Chad

    FCAS, Demand Management, Storage,….the solution is simple and proven by the glowing RE example of Germany where their RE (mostly wind) generation varies by 30-40 GIGA W daily !!
    Their simple and economic solution is to just use their numerous (8 ?) neighbours grids as proxy “batteries”
    Surplus generation when the wind gusts…no problem, .just export the surplus fossil generation to a few other countries.
    If the wind drops (or the load increases= frequency drop)… Then just import a few GW from some other country.
    These interconnectors are invaluable..but often damaging to their neighbours grids !
    See it in action here..
    https://www.energy-charts.de/power.htm?source=all-sources&week=48&year=2017
    ..then use the lh sidebar menu to switch to “Import Export” to see the power exchange fluctuating.

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      Hanrahan

      Surplus generation when the wind gusts…no problem, .just export the surplus fossil generation to a few other countries.

      Norway sucks up excess wind generation and pumps water uphill when it is cheap, exports it when the wind drops – nice little earner.

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      RickWill

      Germany’s power cost is almost as much as South Australia – near the apex of the world. What they are doing is not economic. Their heavy industry is moving to other countries. The system is only sustainable providing other countries with low cost electricity can manufacture the energy intensive components needed to keep expanding the intermittents. Renewables are an illusion; they are unrenewable.

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    Hanrahan

    BTW generators control frequency, NOT voltage. Different sub stations have different loads which would cause different voltages to their consumers. This is adjusted by varying the taps [ie windings] on transformers.

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    RickWill

    The troposphere lost almost half of its warming during November compared with the 1981-2010 average from 0.63 to 0.36 degrees K:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_November_2017_v6-550×317.jpg

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    Chad

    Germany has mandated priority use of all RE generation, and you can see from the charts (link above) how they franticly modulate the fossil..Gas and Coal, generators to ensure maximum utilisation of Wind and solar. If they cannot ramp down the coal plants quick enough, then its exported. This allows them to claim a higher % RE generation, and avoid grid stability issues.
    Just like having multi GWh batteries spread around the grid.
    Germany does have pumped hydro, but no one has enough to suddenly adsorb 10-20 GW !

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    pat

    meanwhile, back in the real world:

    5 Dec: UK Telegraph: Jillian Ambrose: Russia eyes global gas dominance with first export from $27bn Arctic LNG project
    Russia took a step closer to becoming the world’s largest exporter of shipped gas with the start-up a $27bn (£20bn) project in the Arctic circle.
    The liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, located by Russia’s remote Obe River in the far north, began production on Tuesday and will export its first cargo of super-cooled liquid gas by the end of the week.
    The Yamal LNG project propels Novatek, its lead developer, from a domestic Russian gas supplier to a major player in the booming global market for LNG with potential exports of 16.5 million metric tons of gas every year…

    By using specially built ice-breaking tankers to navigate the Arctic waters Novatek expects to halve the time needed to ship gas to China, which has led global gas demand for the last twenty years.
    Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron are also vying for a slice of the LNG market which is picking up steam as countries move away from burning coal for power…

    Europe sources a third of its gas from Russia, but the Kremlin is looking east to develop closer ties with China where demand for gas is expected to sky-rocket…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/05/russia-eyes-global-gas-dominance-first-export-27bn-arctic-lng/

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    Robert Swan

    This makes me think of a new “renewable”. Rather than try and catch the wind, why not cut out the middle man and harvest lightning directly. Just hold on to the charge for a while and feed it out to the grid as needed. Easy peasy.

    Hope that gets my name at the top of the list on a Nobel. Don’t particularly mind — physics, economics, I’d even hold my nose and take a Peace prize.

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    pat

    3 writers for 6 short paras!

    6 Dec: Bloomberg: Vatican Sees a Way Around Trump on Climate Change, Official Says
    By Chiara Albanese and Flavia Rotondi; With assistance by Vernon Silver
    Cardinal Turkson sees China, EU filling void left by U.S.
    Turkson is leading environment adviser to Pope Francis
    “We have other big nations, the EU is there, China is there. They can also step in.”…

    5 Dec: WaPo TWEETS: Opinion: Trump can redeem himself on climate change. Here’s how.
    (by Michael Morell, deputy director and twice acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Benjamin Haas, a former intelligence officer in the Army)(LINK)
    PIC: DROWNING POLAR BEAR?
    AlbeertaStan: Just stop. Trump is useless and America has now lost its place of leadership. ***China will take over now.
    IntrovertGay: He’s literally destroyed everything he’s touched. We’d sooner see Al Gore retroactively made President than Trump do the right thing…
    https://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/938235109299425287

    still not quite facing reality:

    6 Dec: TheConversation: China’s growing footprint on the globe threatens to trample the natural world
    by Bill Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate, James Cook University
    (Disclosure: Bill Laurance receives funding from scientific and philanthropic research organisations. He is the director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at James Cook University, and founder and director of ALERT–the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers)

    In an ideal world, China’s unbridled ambitions will improve economic growth, food security and social development in many poor nations, as well as enriching itself.
    Such hopes are certainly timely, given the isolationism of the US Trump administration, which has created an international leadership vacuum that China is eager to fill.

    But a close look reveals that China’s international agenda is far more exploitative than many realise, especially for the global environment. And the Chinese leadership’s claims to be embracing “green development” are in many cases more propaganda than fact…

    China’s One Belt One Road initiative alone will carve massive arrays of new roads, railroads, ports, and extractive industries such as mining, logging, and oil and gas projects into at least 70 nations across Asia, Europe, and Africa…
    Chinese President Xi Jinping promises that the Belt and Road initiative will be “green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable”, but such a claim is profoundly divorced from reality…

    In terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, China has exploded past every other nation. It now produces more than twice the carbon emissions of the United States, the second-biggest polluter, following the greatest building spree of coal, nuclear, and large-scale hydro projects in human history…

    Iceberg ahead
    Some would say it’s unfair to criticise China like this…
    https://theconversation.com/chinas-growing-footprint-on-the-globe-threatens-to-trample-the-natural-world-88312

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      Graeme No.3

      pat:
      “the Chinese leadership’s claims to be embracing “green development” are in many cases more propaganda than fact” maybe the gullible have noticed at long last, or perhaps not.
      I notice that China is aiming for 8.5% share of electricity from wind by 2025. As Australia is already above this can we stop doing any more?

      I also notice that they’ve launched an electric ship – it will be carrying (some of the) coal to the power station which recharges it.

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    pat

    back in the West’s La La Land:

    6 Dec: RenewEconomy: Sophie Vorrath: The insanity of burning coal for power as solar costs plunge to 1c/kWh by 2020
    Speaking at the APVI Asia Pacific Solar Research Conference (LINK) in Melbourne this week, UNSW Professor Martin Green said the world had entered a “new area” where solar was well and truly the cheapest way of generating bulk electricity…
    “So we’re in a new era. … If you look at the costs that have been bid for solar compared to a new coal plant, well actually they’re there times lower now…

    “So that sort of means that while the sun is shining, burning coal to generate electricity is a little bit like burning dollar notes. You’re just throwing money down the drain,” Professor Green said.
    “I think that’s an important new era, because it takes away an incentive to keep the coal plants operating if you’re getting cheaper electricity from another source.
    “The really exciting thing is that costs are still likely to get very much lower with solar.
    “We’re still seeing these rapid reductions (in solar costs) and no sign of them falling off. …So it’s a very promising future.”
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/the-insanity-of-burning-coal-for-power-as-solar-costs-plunge-to-1ckwh-by-2020-47928/

    Financial Times, behind paywall, is carrying the following report:

    5 Dec: Preventable Surprises: Missing in Action: Missing: 55% fail to step up on climate
    by Casey Aspin
    When the world’s two largest money managers, BlackRock and Vanguard, threw their weight behind a successful 2°C scenario resolution at Exxon last spring, the media hailed a shift in attitudes toward climate risk and, more specifically, the risk of assets being stranded by the need for rapid emissions reduction.

    Preventable Surprises has released a report (LINK) scoring the ten largest investors in utilities on their proxy voting record in the sector.
    It highlights the contradiction between the Exxon vote and those cast in the utility sector, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. BlackRock and Vanguard voted against 2°C resolutions at all nine US utilities targeted by shareholders for increased climate risk disclosure. In response to our questions, both asset managers provided statements expressing a preference for private engagement over public proxy votes…ETC
    https://preventablesurprises.com/archive/missing-in-action-the-missing55-fail-to-step-up-to-climate-challenge/

    Preventable Surprises homepage: Our current focus is on the critical role that electric utility companies play in limiting global warming to 2°C. Utilities are the biggest consumers of fossil fuels in the U.S. and have been slow to transition to low-carbon models. If the Paris Agreement is to have any chance of succeeding, utilities must rapidly reduce emissions.

    About Preventable Surprises: An Independent Voice
    Preventable Surprises brings an independent voice to the table because we are not funded by corporate members or consulting fees, nor do we accept funding from foundations that seek to define our strategy. Our funding has come from progressive foundations, including The Funding Network, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation, the Network for Social Change, Marmot Trust, Mava Foundation and the Margaret Hayman Charitable Trust, and from individuals who value our work.

    from the 25-page PDF Report “Flip the Switch”:

    Conclusion:
    In 2017, hurricanes devastated Texas and the Caribbean; monsoon floods killed more than 1,000 people in South Asia and displaced millions; wildfires consumed more than 8 million acres in the US; and droughts laid waste to crops in southern Europe and east Africa.

    Meanwhile, the levelized cost of renewable energy increasingly bested fossil fuels in 2017, leading to rapid uptake of clean power in China, India, and deregulated US markets like Texas.

    The utility sector is undergoing seismic changes due to technological advances, business model changes, and policy developments.
    Investors must make clear to laggard US utilities that business as usual in a rapidly changing sector is a threat to shareholder value, to ratepayers, and to the planet…

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    pat

    comment in moderation re: 6 Dec: RenewEconomy: Sophie Vorrath: The insanity of burning coal for power as solar costs plunge to 1c/kWh by 2020

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    pat

    5 Dec: BusinessGreen: Michael Holder: Is carbon pricing more important than renewables subsidies?
    EU countries should place far greater emphasis on developing effective carbon pricing mechanisms than on delivering subsidies for renewable electricity if they want to drive decarbonisation, according to LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

    Research presented to policy makers in Brussels today by the academic institution points out that the EU’s decarbonisation of the power sector is now entering a “new phase” thanks to the dramatically falling cost of renewables such as wind and solar power, which will soon mean they no longer need state subsidy support to encourage development.

    The EU is currently on track to meet its 2020 emissions targets, but will need to put in place stronger policies in order to meet its more ambitious 2030 target of cutting annual emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels, according to the report (LINK), which was funded by Norwegian energy company Statkraft…

    While the power sector represents the EU’s largest source of emissions, member states will also need to start applying carbon pricing – perhaps through carefully introduced carbon taxes – to other sectors of the economy not covered by the ETS in order to meet 2030 carbon targets, including transport and waste, it adds…

    While the paper concedes introducing or strengthening carbon taxes is “challenging” as it is often seen as regressive by industry and the public, it argues that such policies can be made more publicly acceptable if they are “communicated well and designed to address the most widely held concerns”…READ ON
    https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news-analysis/3022430/report-eu-should-focus-on-carbon-pricing-ahead-of-renewables-subsidies

    Wikipedia: Statkraft
    Statkraft is a hydropower company, fully owned by the Norwegian state. The Statkraft Group is a generator of renewable energy, as well as Norway’s largest and the Nordic region’s third largest energy producer. Statkraft develops and generates hydropower, wind power, gas power and district heating, and is also a player in the international energy markets…
    In 2007 Statkraft and E.ON signed a letter of intent to swap Statkraft’s shares in E.ON Sweden in exchange for flexible power production assets and shares in E.ON. The total value of the asset swap was €4.4 billion. The transaction made Statkraft Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy…

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    robert rosicka

    More unreliables being delivered to Silverton , amazing town now ruined by a Windfarm , ironic the Mad Max Museum is in Silverton .

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    Chad

    Why do people continually post comments that are totally unrelated to the topic in discussion ?
    Please find an appropriate topic for your comments rather than randomly inserting them in the currently active thread.
    It is like butting into a conversation with a random comment that confuses everyone.
    Basic online posting manners .
    ….thanks

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    Chris in Hervey Bay

    I cut and pasted this from a comment on WUWT.

    1st December 2017.

    Looks like the Elon Musk battery in South Australia failed on day one to do what they claimed it would.

    http://www.news.com.au/national/south-australia/almost-150-businesses-without-power-in-the-adelaide-cbd-during-the-second-black-out-in-a-week/news-story/82042e02b13473cf6157a857f1213df9

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    Planning Engineer

    Good post and good discussion. While well aware of the problem I have not seen the acronym FCAS used in the US. The problem of ancillary supply of frequency control support is often lumped with related concerns (ramping, voltage control) under the title Essential Reliability Services (ERS).

    Hopefully we can all cross the “language” barriers and learn from each others experiences. I think the confusion helps to oversell the benefits of intermittent, asynchronous resources. I hope the US will carefully observe and learn from your experience.

    This has good basic videos on frequency control and other ERS concerns. https://vimeopro.com/nerclearning/erstf-1

    Here’s a posting on the overall concerns. https://judithcurry.com/2016/01/06/renewables-and-grid-reliability/

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    Robber

    Excellent video setting out the engineering and the solutions. Thanks Planning Engineer.

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    Chad

    Yes, another Thanks from me Planning Engineer.
    Very informative and understandable.

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    Geoff Sherrington

    There are many factors making up the quality of alternating current. Here are but some.
    Waveform. Much equipment design assumes that the voltage and the current of a phase alternates in a sine wave. Not a square or triangular or whatever.
    Phase. The 3 phases commonly used need to be kept as close to 120 degrees apart as possible.
    Quadrature. See wiki.
    Transients. Mostly, the worst are short-time high amplitude excursions from the sine wave.
    Sag. Voltage and/or current drops to give a power drop for a significant number of cycles. Over voltage is the opposite.
    Frequency. In Australia, should be 50 Hertz, that is 50 cycles per second, on all three phases, with little deviation.
    Harmonics. When, as with a musical note, a basic frequency creates another frequency commonly as a simple number multiple or faction of the original.
    Power factor. Relates to the phase of the voltage being offset from the phase of the current.
    Intermittency. The power input to a grid varies from desirable, as with solar farms at night (predictable) or with passing clouds (not).

    There are more than these and my simple descriptions need more reading. I did Physics III ac theory and promptly forgot most. The aim of raising some here is to praise the engineers who master these problems and allow life to continue at high standard.
    One of the worst devices you could invent to plague supply quality is the large windmill in raw form, without the collection of chokes and filters and converters to cope with known problems. The second worst device would be the windmill with these fixes attached (sarc).

    I remain gobsmacked that the known problems of renewables were allowed to pass to the keeper instead of a mandatory requirement that their input to existing grids did not lower quality.

    Now I read today of a new wind farm planned for Bass Strait with a nameplate almost as large as the coal fired Hazelwood, closed recently. Should it not contain its own intermittency solution before being approved to go on grid?
    Then, would this not make it uneconomic? Geoff

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