JoNova

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Thanks to wind and solar power, Australians have to drive to work to save the planet

Australians used to have an electricity grid that gave them the freedom to work from home

For years they told us to work at home to help the environment.  But thanks to a decentralized unreliable grid, Australians are now being warned that it will be a “disaster” for the grid if they stay home and work with their air conditioner on in summer.

Now we better drive to work so the solar-windy-grid doesn’t fall over:

Why working from home could be a disaster for Australia’s electricity grid this summer

Emma Elsworthy, ABC

Air conditioners could send Australia’s power grid into meltdown this summer, as roughly one third of the workforce do their jobs from home, experts have warned.

According to research company Roy Morgan, more than 4.3 million Australians are working from home…

But warmer weather has come with a warning that increased use of air-conditioning in homes could lead to more blackouts and higher electricity bills.

“Air-conditioning is what drives our maximum demand in Australia,” said Peter Dobney, the former founding chairman of the Energy Users Association of Australia.

“We can expect higher prices, in fact, I think that’s a certainty.”

After installing solar panels on one in four houses we apparently don’t want people to stay home and use them to power their air conditioners. Instead we want them to get into their cars and drive in to large office blocks which we can still afford to keep cool.

Nearly 70% of Australians drive to work, and 30% spend almost an hour getting there. The freedom to spend nearly two hours a day not sitting in traffic is surprisingly popular. But now, just as people discover  how good that can be, comes the bad news that our electricity grid doesn’t offer the freedom to turn on your air conditioner whenever you like anymore. The hours spent stuck in cars is just another kind of renewable tax.

No one saw this coming

Who would have thought that an electricity grid which is designed to make the weather nicer in 2100 would not work as well as an electricity grid designed to make cheap electricity now? Where were the university academics who were paid fat cheques to forecast our renewables future?

The grand irony is that as our power becomes less centralized and less efficient, our offices have to be more efficient.  Thus decentralized power means centralized lives. Just another price of saving the Earth.

Evil coal fired power gives us freedom, but who wants that?

It’s 118 years since the first air conditioner was invented. They save 20,000 lives each year in the USA, and probably 2,000 a year in hot Australia. If only we could still afford to run them. If global warming is really going to happen,  cheap air conditioning and electricity would be even more important than ever. Do old lives matter?

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Rating: 9.6/10 (82 votes cast)
Thanks to wind and solar power, Australians have to drive to work to save the planet, 9.6 out of 10 based on 82 ratings

50 comments to Thanks to wind and solar power, Australians have to drive to work to save the planet

  • #
    TdeF

    On a typical steamy hot windless summer’s night in Australia or any other country in summer, how do solar and wind work? Oh, yes. We turn everything off and go back to the 1950s. Not the luxury of the 1990s when we had plenty of coal power and before we started closing perfectly operational coal power stations to save China from getting too hot.

    341

    • #
      TdeF

      And of course we are not supposed to use our own coal or make steel or aluminum. We just want the jobs, not the Carbon Dioxide. So they are all quietly subsidized with our taxes in Whyalla, Port Pirie, Portland. We even own a timber mill because they are not allowed harvest timber. It should be a script in Yes Minister.

      So we export our coal and iron ore to China where they make big steel windmills and we buy them with the money we received. At least all the Carbon Dioxide is left in China while we much safer from deadly Global Warming with our Chinese windmills. Why doesn’t any of this make sense?

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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      The problem is two fold.
      Firstly, as TonyfromOz reminds us is that the biggest user of electricity for air-conditioning are those tower blocks in the inner city. These are essential for ventilation and often run 24 hours regardless of occupancy. As he points out the annual minimum occurs when most people are at home in summer (Christmas day) but factories are shut, so home A/C is a fairly small amount.
      The second is that most of those working from home would have solar on their roof. While it normally reduces the apparent load on the grid, by using it for home airconditioning it would reduce feed-in and increase the demand on the grid (extra used at home while the same in use elsewhere). Given the fragile nature of our grid, even that small increase might be disastrous.

      110

      • #
        Another Ian

        IIRC there is a grand new horizon where everyone will be squashed in high rises.

        An interesting prospect for power needs maybe?

        30

    • #
      Another Ian

      Well you can still buy Tilley lights. Kerosene might be a problem.

      30

    • #

      You are wrong not the 1950s. My deceased brother a member of the New Zealand Greens advocated the 1750s. He just couldn’t work out how to reduce the population to about 500 million. This

      10

  • #

    Jo
    On LinkedIn one of my contacts, (one of the very few engineers I know who believes in climate change) keeps on liking posts on Renewables. I , under my own name, always reply and point out the same sort of things you do here. There are a few stalwarts who like my posts but not many. When I read the other comments I realise how stupid and deluded so many are in this area, having applied no effort in assessing renewables and swallowing hook line and sinker the garbage which passes for justification.

    I would hope all here have the fortitude to also question the stupidity which regularly appears but there are those, unlike me, who may be scared about repercussions for declaring openly they are a sceptic. I would say that the world, in most cases, will not end if you post questioning this. Although it really is true that in some cases there may be blowback from the politically correct who monitor such things….

    Very sad that we have come to this idiotic situation. All entirely avoidable, but spineless politicians and deluded activists have made it very difficult to see a good way out.

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    • #
      melbourne resident

      TdeF and Aussie – I know how you fell as I am the only person present at the VPELA conferences (Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association) who dares to stick up a hand to be able to question the feel good speakers spouting the nonsense about renewables. I asked Katerina Gaeta (Climate Action) who was a speaker at our last conference why she left out any mention of China – and whether in her suggested shutting down of the coal industry she was prepared to go to war with China. I think she misunderstood the question as I wasnt suggesting Australia go to war to China to enforce Paris type restrictions – but that China would come and take what they needed – by force if necessary – if we denied them our coal. Anyone remember what actually sparked the Pacific war in 1941?

      340

    • #
      RickWill

      The first step is not perpetuating the poor use of language. The ONLY renewable energy source known to humans is managed forests and electrical energy from them is about twice the cost of producing electricity from coal.

      Please desist from using the term ‘renewable’ in relation to weather dependent generators (WDGs for short). If you do not like that then use variable generation or intermittent generation. The present generation of wind and solar are not ‘renewable’. They have consumed more energy in their manufacture and installation they can ever hope to recover.

      Anyone believing WDGs are renewable ask them to advise a location where they are being manufactured solely using the energy they are producing. For that matter ask them to name any major raw material used in WDGs that was produced using energy from said WDGs.

      281

      • #
        bobl

        I call them environmental energy scavengers, because that’s what they are. I use energy scavenging tech for lots of low power jobs, just not really suited to high power jobs because environmental energy is diffuse.

        30

  • #
    John F. Hultquist

    “We can expect higher prices, in fact, I think that’s a certainty.”

    I’m shocked!

    Another thought: The climate won’t care.

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    • #
      Rowjay

      Just anther thought – if climate is the last 30 years of weather, what do we call the weather for the other 4.5 billion years?

      120

      • #
        Kalm Keith

        Pre-CO2 weather.

        40

      • #
        John F. Hultquist

        Climate is not the last 30 years of weather.

        30 is a number from Statistics 101

        Three days ago I commented on Paul Homewood’s site to a similar idea.

        . . . within the current “existential crisis” the temperature concept is the “climate” definer. This is why so much effort, technology, and money has been spent on everything from treemonitors to stalagmites to satellites.
        The Köppen-Geiger classification of areas via vegetation types (Köppen was an experienced botanist) was based on what types of vegetation grow where. Doing this for all of Earth is too costly and a bit subjective, so simple physical parameters became widely used, and modified.

        I live east of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. We get 7-9 inches of precipitation, a lot of that as winter snow. Winters are cold and summers are hot. An ecotone is a transition area between two biological communities. We live where forested mountains give way (going east) to Sagebrush/Steppe.

        Earth’s average temperature, if such exists, is not of great concern to the plants that have been growing here for the last 10,000 years.

        There is no sense trying to communicate with the “Climate Cult” researchers and activists using the term climate as proposed by Köppen.

        See: Humpty Dumpty Theory of Language

        20

    • #
      Curious George

      That’s the problem. They persuaded taxpayers but not Mother Nature.

      10

  • #
    PeterS

    I’ve heard of yet another reasons why people prefer to go to work on hot days. They can’t afford the cost of running their air-conditions all day. The politicians on both sides don’t care of course and they can afford to stay at home and have their air-conditioner turned on all the time. We are being conned and treated like fools yet the vast majority of the people don’t yet know it. So, let’s keep handing them majority rule and see of they change their ways. Of course anyone who believes that is the solution has a problem with reality and logic.

    120

  • #
    shannon

    Sorry O.T.

    Has anyone else heard this News from NZ ????
    Dictator Ardern has said there will be no “main” travel overseas unless people have the vaccine for Covid 19 ???

    If this the truth ….Ardern has set in motion population freedom…restrictions and control…(Agenda 21 on track as planned)
    for NZ…..!!
    Other side of the coin……If this “flows” on to other Countries ie Oz….We can just imagine WHY there is 100′s of Research Labs.. flat out to be first with a vaccine..

    The amount of money made, will be enormous… especially as viruses mutate so one x “shot” wont happen…..
    So..anyone not wishing to have the vaccine ..looks like our travel days are numbered !

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    • #
      John F. Hultquist

      If a vaccine is like the more common flu shot, it will be only partially effective for people most at risk, elderly.
      Perhaps “Dictator Ardern” doesn’t know much about the topic.

      190

      • #
        Graeme No.3

        John, could you be more specific? There are lots of things she doesn’t know much about.

        70

      • #
        shannon

        John…Ardern isnt as “innocent” as she makes out……
        She was a youth Socialist leader… and did her apprenticeship under Tony Blair…
        Ardern is vying for a career in the UN….following in her mentor Helen Clark’s footsteps…
        She is doing a great job of bringing NZ to its knees….really sad …..

        160

  • #
    Mal

    Everything on life is a trade of
    Saving the planet is just green speak for introducing Marxism
    Sustainabilty leads to stagnation or in greenie speak, regression of western civilization
    I’m all for cheap centralised reliable power, (coal), and adapt to any negative impacts this might have
    This will leave the best balanced legacy to my kids and grand kids

    100

  • #
    Mal

    The whole renewable energy future I’d based on a lie

    Therefore every solution to a non problem cannot be a solution
    We are wasting billions of dollars on wasted efforts.

    170

  • #
    MCMXLIII

    … Some power companies offer a service where customers can order them to automatically turn off air conditioners.
    It’s known as “load shedding”, and some large corporations already do it lower power costs …

    How long before all power companies ‘offer’ that service, whether the consumer wants it or not?

    …”It would get the demand down by 20 per cent or more in those residential areas,” Mr Dobney [Peter Dobney, the former founding chairman of the Energy Users Association of Australia] said …
    … “And this idea would mean the grid could keep up with demand” …

    That’s supply-side economics where ‘consumers benefit from a greater supply of goods and services at lower prices and employment increases’ but operating in reverse.

    Now we better drive to work so the solar-windy-grid doesn’t fall over …

    I’m sure ’tilty’ Emma would advise cycling or walking, funny she set out with the aim of ‘entering the competitive media industry’ but instead ended up at the ABC.

    50

  • #

    You can’t put solar panels on office towers. Besides, who wants to go to work, and then leave for home, at the same time as a million other schmucks? Get outta here.

    50

    • #
      Peter C

      You can’t put solar panels on office towers

      Yes you can, but the proportion per office is small. Also you can’t have a helicopter landing area as well, which could be important if we have another 9/11/.

      who wants to go to work, and then leave for home, at the same time as a million other schmucks?

      The commute can be a pain but there are a lot of benefits from working in a place of work, not being your home. I hope we can come up with a better normal.

      30

      • #
        Peter C

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        What did I do?

        [Just the auto filter thinking it's your turn Peter C .]AD

        20

  • #
    RickWill

    A good proportion of the people working from home have deliverables that are required on a daily or weekly or even monthly basis. There are some call centre types where presence is essentially minute by minute but most can choose when they work through the day.

    When I was working from home I forced myself to take at least a 40 walk each day. I had a colleague who often spent days on yacht working from (home).

    So those who have definite deliverables can choose the time of day they work. The climate in Australia is amenable to the long lunches common for businesses in Italy where doors can close for a couple of hours through the hottest part of the day.

    with a slight adjustment in mindset, the requirement for home air-conditioning can be reduced.

    14

    • #
      Peter C

      Thanks Rick,

      I think you are making a point here but I am not sure what it is?

      Are you in favour of working from home. or pretending to work from home?

      40

      • #
        RickWill

        I am all for working from home and have found it a more [roductive environment than an office.

        I have found that when people start to work from home they feel they need the discipline of 8 hours at the desk during normal business hours. It is easy for that to extend to 12 or more if you do not have the discipline to take a break. Most people feel guilty about getting an easy life so put in more than is reasonably expected. There is a huge amount of distractions in a typical office environment. I found home office more productive.

        42

        • #
          Peter C

          ok,

          I have a daughter working from home.

          But I feel that she needs more of the social aspect of work.

          60

          • #
            RickWill

            Although I had a home office, my work required me to fly long distances and meet with clients. Many of those visits were to the same client. I also travelled with colleagues so there was plenty of social interaction.

            My son in the UK has been working from home for a few years now and he finds it isolating. Basically it is lower cost for the business to work from home. He has clients throughout UK and the rest of Europe but makes few visits to offices. He is a bit isolated but occasionally met socially with colleagues before Covid restrictions.

            I think zoom provides reasonable level of contact these days. My daughter-in-law in the UK has been working from home since March but was asked to a meeting at the office. The meeting was conducted with chair spacing of 5 feet and masks on. After about 30 minutes they gave up on the meeting, went back to their offices and hooked up on zoom without masks. They found it impossible to conduct a meeting with masks on.

            12

  • #
    Harves

    Surely the weathermen who can predict the climate in 2100 will be able to predict the windy days in which people will be allowed to work. Companies will just have to get used to reduced productivity on windless days. This is the new utopia.

    80

  • #

    HVAC – Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning.

    Imagine now who will be working from home. Not Tradies of ANY trade at all, not construction workers, not builders, carpenters, concreters, brickies, truck drivers bus drivers, train drivers, road workers, council workers, and on and on and on. No, those working from home will be office workers, so, most of these people who will be working from home do their normal work in high rise office towers.

    So, first, an analogy.

    Very very few of you will have stood underneath one of the wind towers at the Macarthur wind plant and looked up, so as much as we can ‘say’ how tall they are, you get no real impression until you actually stand there and see it for yourself. The nacelle on top of the concrete tower is 26 stories high. The blade tip now raises the height to 141 metres, and that’s 43 stories high. Okay now keep in mind that even with all the high rises in the Brisbane CBD, there are only 15 buildings in Brisbane taller than that, genuine skyscrapers by definition, higher than 150 metres. (Macarthur 141 metres to blade tip height)

    Okay, in much the same manner, also, very very few of you will have actually been inside a 26 story high rise work place, or even those taller ones. If you have been inside one, walk across to the window and open it to let in some air, you know, like you do at home, open the door to let in the fresh air.

    You CANNOT do that in any high rise building at all, anything taller than two stories in fact.

    That’s why they ALL (every building) use HVAC, and here far and away the most important part of that is the ‘V’ for ventilation.

    Each and every single building has huge HVAC units on the roof. The fans themselves are the ONLY way recirculated breathing air gets in and out of the building. They are left on 24 hours a day. They can NEVER be turned off. The internal temperature is kept pretty much constant throughout the year, so that temperature ‘feels’ cool in Summer, and warm in Winter. They just flick the Summer/Winter switch to reverse the cycle of operation.

    The compressors operate more in Summer to keep the inside cool, because in the Winter that huge glassed area warms up the inside to the ambient, so heating is not used as much hence those huge electricity consumers, the compressors do not run as often. In Summer, the inside heats up considerably with all that glass, so the compressors run flat out on virtually ALL of the Summer days to keep the inside cool and able to have people inside still. You can actually see this as plainly obvious when you look at the Load curves for Winter (with the dip in the middle of the day) and the Summer, as it rises after the morning peak, and does not begin to fall until mid evening, after the usual evening peak power consumption time, around 6.30PM every day.

    ALL of that extra power consumption is HVAC working flat out on all of those high rises, and the Summer Winter difference can be as high as 8000MW PLUS.

    So now we will have huge numbers of people working from home.

    As I said, those HVAC units CANNOT be turned off.

    So, they will be operating as normal, and now we have home aircon units working overtime as well.

    This Summer we’ll see load shedding, and here, keep in mind, that they can’t really load shed CBD’s of any city, as people will be trapped in those high rises. No it will be the suburbs where ordinary people actually live.

    Now you get an idea of HVAC, correlate this to the minimum Base Load of 18000MW. HVAC is a huge contributor to that, and that is why the Base Load is so important, and will not be going down any time soon, and in fact it is actually slowly rising. Start turning off high rises and they (instantly) become unable to be occupied.

    Tony.

    Oh, and for those of you who scoff at looking at Load Curves to get an idea how large HVAC is, then the glaring response to that is Christmas Day. Every one of those high rises is unoccupied, so no internal ambient rise in heat when it’s full of bodies doing work, hence HVAC is lowest on this one single day of the year. And with everyone at home on a hot Summer’s day, and all ostensibly using their home aircon if they have it, power consumption on this one day of the year is the LOWEST for the year, far and away the lowest.

    220

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Thanks Tony.

      Re body heat. Many, many years ago, when I was a schoolboy, I went to Myers in Adelaide (the old building of 6 stories). There I saw the cooling machines on the roof. They never heated the building at all, even in winter. There was enough heat from the lights** and people to warm the building until the cooling was turned on around 10 a.m. In summer they started the cooling before the store opened.

      ** This was before LED’s and even fluorescents weren’t that common.

      60

    • #
      RicDre

      “HVAC – Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning.”

      I worked for a company that made parts for air conditioning and refrigeration products so for us HVAC meant “High Velocity Air Conditioning”. This got me to researching other meanings for HVAC and my favorite one is: “Hunter Valley Aboriginal Corporation (Muswellbrook, Australia)”

      30

  • #
    tonyb

    Part of my letter to a newspaper regarding a local XR demo;

    “The demo asked very relevant questions about the disappearance of insects and indeed their poster depicts a dragon fly and butterfly, unfortunately the turbines behind them would likely have minced them up .

    German researchers calculated that each wind turbine kills up to 12,000 insects per day, which is some 12,000 tonnes of dead insects per year in Germany alone. as the bugs fly in much the same arc as the turbine pattern.

    A separate study found the German wind insect death toll to be around one-third of the total annual insect migration in southern England, a comparison which scientists calculate equates to losses of a trillion bugs per year.”

    Dead insects spatter turbine blades substantially reducing efficiency and have to be cleaned off

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11889978_Aerodynamics_-_Insects_can_halve_wind-turbine_power

    110

    • #
      Serp

      If only it were the sporadic generation financiers and developers whose remains had to be cleaned off the blades.

      60

  • #
    Another Ian

    “We Don’t Need No Stinking Giant Fans”

    A refresher in “Unobtanium”

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/index.php/2020/09/21/we-dont-need-no-stinking-giant-fans-33/

    10

  • #
    JS

    “Do old lives matter?”
    Obviously you didn’t get the memo – covid is the only thing that kills old people.

    70

  • #
    David Maddison

    Apart from Venezuela, is Australia the most self-destructive Western-style country on the planet?

    61

    • #
      Richard Ilfeld

      Probably true. If we broaden the contest to discrete political jurisdictions of a certain minimum size, however, California would like to join the
      competition. All of the virtues of a true failed state are becoming evident there. New York city would like to compete as well.

      One suspects, if a free and fair election could be held in Venezuela, the population would not vote to continue the policies that have destroyed
      economic and political freedom in that country. California offers a good example of how effective choice can be lost even as many of the forms of
      democracy remain.

      It is fair to study closely how, with corrosive taxation, failing schools and power grids, crippling fires, deteriorating social services, and huge failed industries
      the leftist majority is nonetheless able to cobble together solid majorities in enough jurisdictions to have a supermajority in the legislature.

      Somehow, across the world, majorities see the consequences of failed leftist states yet vote as if “it can’t happen here”. Even when it is happening.

      Sometimes I dislike myself, but if you believe the fires in your neighborhood are caused by “global climate change” and not the failures of the stupid leaders
      you have supported for generation, you have earned the consequences of your folly. Contemplate this as you ride the bullet train away from the carnage.

      50

      • #
        RicDre

        “One suspects, if a free and fair election could be held in Venezuela, the population would not vote to continue the policies that have destroyed economic and political freedom in that country.”

        Related article: Poll: Most Venezuelans Want ‘Capitalist’ Nation

        Capitalism is the most popular ideology among citizens of Venezuela, a poll released this weekend found, and most who want to see dictator Nicolás Maduro vacate power before the end of the year see anti-Maduro opposition leaders as sell-outs to socialism./blockquote>

        https://www.breitbart.com/latin-america/2020/09/21/poll-most-venezuelans-want-capitalist-nation/

        30

  • #
    Zigmaster

    If you think the grid will struggle to cope now wait till the only transport is electric cars and the electricity used to recharge them comes mostly from renewables. Sounds like a Utopian situation , the Rob Stitch type of Utopia.

    50

  • #
    Just Thinkin'

    The NEM and AOME are Grubbnmnt sponsored
    PONZI Schemes.

    10

  • #
    Robber

    Recently received from Origin Energy: “Eligible Origin residential electricity customers get rewarded for flicking off the switch during peak power hours (known as SpikeHours) and meeting energy saving goals to earn points which can be redeemed for PayPal cash or gift cards. Plus, feel better for helping us transition to a more renewable energy future.”

    30

  • #
    liberator

    So turning off your power to your a/cs over summer prevent load shedding is being green? I thought that’s what the solar panels and wind turbines are supposed to do keep us green and save the Earth. So in reality we should be running our a/c’s and using all of that FREE renewable energy to be truly green so were not relying on those filthy coal burners.

    I got asked if I’d be willing to turn off my a/c and pool pump over summer – I said no, we’re not a 3rd world country, we should have a reliable powder supply that doesn’t need you to turn things off to make it reliable for the WDG’s!!

    I’ll have to remember WDG’s, Weather Dependent Generators – I like that term!

    10

  • #
    Furiously curious

    I’m scratching my head over the topic. One of the few times Solar panels, on homes or solar farms, seem to be useful, would be during hot sunny days, to power aircon? Both parties during the last election in NSW, had solar for schools as a platform (did anything happen?) Why that has taken 20 yrs for people to think of, staggers me. Solar and hot school rooms in western Sydney, would seem to me a perfect fit. I dont think either side would quibble over that? Someone working from home, using solar for aircon, what else are you going to do with it?
    We’re really scratching for problems to be saying, ‘it’s going to cause problems, because it’s not feeding back into the grid’. If solar isn’t useful during hot days???????? The usual cry is, the useless midday peak. We’re stuck with them, we might as well get some use?

    10

  • #
    Edwina

    Ironic how in the 80s the power bill would include an advertisement for air conditioners. Also, I keep getting advertisements on FB from energy companies giving tips how to save power. Such as, turn off appliances at the wall, use LED lights, use door seals, etc. Why not go the whole way and advise people to buy small tv sets, less smart phone controlled devices, don’t install cctv security cameras, no hair dryers, and a whole lot of power “wasting” gadgets?

    20

  • #
    Analitik

    Funnily enough, I suggested that the simple solution to domestic rooftop PV induced grid instability would be to for the operator to allow grid voltages to rise to around the threshold for the inverters to switch off (to prevent over-voltage). But I have the impression this was illegal as there was a requirement for domestic rooftop PV owners to get their “fair credits”.

    Well it seems that in desperation, South Australia HAS been allowed to do this as of last month and the

    AEMO suggests similar action is “required urgently in Victoria, and promptly in Queensland”.

    So there you go – problem solved.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-27/authorities-power-to-switch-off-south-australia-solar-panels/12602684

    10