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Energy Crisis: NSW can’t keep coal plants, or aluminium smelters running, prices hit $14,000MW/hr

Posted By Jo Nova On June 9, 2018 @ 4:47 pm In Cost,Global Warming,Renewable | Comments Disabled

It’s not even summer.

NSW has been hit by clouds and a lack of reliable coal power. Prices are soaring.  In NSW the Tomago Aluminium Smelter consumes about 10% of the state’s electricity. It has been forced to switch off three times in the last week because there was not enough reserve power on the grid.

The boss of Tomago, Mr Howell, said Australia is “at a crisis point with our energy system”. 

“This is not summer with extreme demand. This is the likely future of our energy grid as once reliable baseload generators exit the [NEM] and are mostly replaced with intermittent wind and solar projects with no practical storage to speak of,” Mr Howell said. “Our energy debate should not advocate either renewables or conventional thermal,” he said.

– SMH, Peter Hannam,

Aluminum pot lines can only sit idle for a few hours before they cool too far and the damage becomes permanent and wildly expensive as the aluminum becomes solid.

Renewables-fans blame the emergency on the unreliability of coal

See @TheAustraliaInstitute. Suddenly Australia is the only western nation on Earth with coal resources that can’t maintain its coal plants. We did it for decades, but now the economics for coal is pathetically inadequate — thanks to government interference destroying the free market.  So coal infrastructure, worth billions in any other nation, is being run into the ground.

Tomago said it had been forced to halt each of three potlines this week – one on Tuesday and two on Thursday – because of a lack of reserve across the grid serving eastern states.

Matt Howell, Tomago’s chief executive, told Fairfax Media on Friday lunchtime, the company was concerned it may face another curtailment of operations later in the day. Just before 6.30 pm, he said the company had probably “dodged a bullet”, with the demand peak over.

AEMO said this was partly due to heavier than expected cloud cover which reduced the output from solar rooftop generation, resulting in increased demand from the grid.

Dang Clouds

On Friday, solar power had one of its worst days so far this year hitting a peak of just 2,000MW.  The normal June solar PV output of the entire east coast 40,000km network is over 3,500MW, so fully 1,500MW was missing.

Dang Wind

Wind saved the day on Thursday but was also bombing by late Friday.

Oh the vagaries of smelting aluminum via the sun and wind.

Oh the cost!

Those spikes are $14,000 per megawatt hour bursts, which dwarfs everything else. The average price in NSW was $220/MWh on Friday.

NSW electricity cost,graph, NEM, AEMO, June 2018

NSW electricity cost,graph, NEM, AEMO, June 2018

h/t David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz (Dave B) and Ian.

UPDATE: TonyFromOz says he has not seen anything like this. See his comment and the graph below.

 

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