JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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SA: Still at risk of blackout, one third of solar PV “switching off” to save state, needs $1.5b interconnector bandaid to NSW

A $1,500 million dollar emergency line  is needed to rescue South Australia from renewable blackouts.  Image: Marcus Wong Wongm

 

Why do so few see the enormous subsidy cost of keeping the South Australian electricity experiment alive?

Having got too much intermittent, unreliable electricity, the state is still in danger of another statewide blackout. One third of the solar panels on homes are being switched off automatically because the electricity they provide is not just useless, but dangerous. What the state needs is baseload power, but the solution we’re told is to spend another incredible $1.5billion dollars on an interconnector with NSW, presumably so SA gets a lifeline to the reliable coal power in Queensland.

That’s a $1,500,000,000 repair bill for an unreliable system that cost a fortune to build, but is unsustainable without a giant bandaid.

Price rises coming in NSW and QLD:

As more unreliable generation and random green electrons infect the NSW and Qld grids, their cheap baseload providers will also find it harder to compete. The increased downtime will chew out some of their profit margins, but their costs will be almost the same. So, as sure as the sun rises, they will have to raise their [...]

Desperate signs: Australian companies will be paid to use less electricity

Another hidden renewables tax buried in complexity

Here in Renewables World we now have to pay companies to make less of the products we want. It’s a sign of how fragile and dysfunctional the Australian grid is.

“Big energy users like factories and farms will be able to earn money by saving energy during heatwaves and at other times when electricity prices are high,” the Australia Institute’s energy lead Dan Cass said.

They call it “wholesale demand response”. We call it planned blackouts. All over the country equipment will be switched off when its needed most so that our green grid doesn’t fall over, or create billion dollar price spikes.

With some of the most expensive electricity in the world, there is already a strong price signal driving companies to use electricity efficiently. This new “price signal” drives them to be less efficient. Because the grid is now incapable of providing regular reliable electricity whenever it’s most useful to companies, the government is adding a whole new layer of complexity to try to squeeze out the spikes they can’t handle.

This move will mean more people will have to be employed in account-management, but the products made will shrink, [...]

Victoria blows up cheapest electricity generator in the state

In 2017 in its last month of operation, the 53 year old Hazelwood coal plant was still operating reliably 24 hours a day at around $30/MWhr and producing 1360MW of electricity. Despite its age, it could peak at 86% of its original rated output.

After Hazelwood closed, wholesale prices jumped 85% in Victoria. And the annual average spot wholesale price in Victoria in the last year was $100/MWH.

So naturally Victoria wants to build more wind power, and blow up old reliable coal. Every single week in January, when electricity demand peaks in Australia, there were days when one old coal plant could have provided more electricity than all 57 new wind farms on the National Electricity Market could.

How much did it cost to build 57 not-there-when-you-need-it wind farms?

 

The output of all the wind farms in Australia still isn’t enough to reliably produce more than one 50 year old coal plant.

 

In its lifetime Hazelwood made $15 billion dollars worth of electricity (or 520TWH). It paid for itself many times over.

Source: Anero.id

h/t David B, Serp

..

 

[...]

Tasmania wins Freeloader Climate Fashion Award for aim to “be 200% renewable” by 2040

The Tasmanian Government has just announced they will be “200% renewable” by 2040 — a feat only possible because they have an umbilical cord to hostages in the mainland who have to pay for irrelevant surges in electricity that arrive when they don’t need it. The same hostages will send back fossil powered electricity every week to keep Tasmania running when the wind and sun stop and the water is worth more in the dam than out of it. Not to mention container-ships of GST cash to support the state with the second highest unemployment in the nation.

This is the same state that went 100% renewable for three months in 2015 and launched itself into an electricity crisis. They decommissioned the last fossil fuel power station, just in time to get islanded by a break in their umbilical cable and thence had to order flying squads of diesel generators to keep the lights on at a cost of at least $140m. They also had to restart the same plant they just closed. The state lost half a billion dollars in the crisis – nearly twice the cost of the newish gas plant which had only built in 2009.

[...]

SA renewable electricity market mayhem as frequency stabilizing costs hit record breaking $90 million

Since SA was islanded the costs just to keep the frequency stable are as much as the energy itself

Two weeks ago the Australian grid had a major near miss, and South Australia has been isolated from the rest of the nation ever since. It was supposed to be connected again in two weeks, but repairs to the 6 high voltage towers that fell over, evidently will be longer. Strangely, apparently no news outlet has mentioned this in the last two weeks.

While SA has been the renewables star of the world for two weeks, there’s been mayhem in the market. Instead of cheap electricity with 50% renewables it’s chaos. Allan O’Neill explains that the cost of stabilizing the grid has gone through the roof. It’s so bad, and generators have to contribute to balance their output, that solar and wind power are holding back from supply because they can’t afford to pay the costs to cover their share of frequency stability.

But when South Australia became islanded by the transmission line collapse, FCAS requirements for that region could only be supplied from local providers – and there is only a small subset of participants in South Australia [...]

What do we call it when the State turns off your air conditioner? A “Peaksmart” moment

You can’t make this stuff up.

The Government advertising bureau — the ABC — is telling Queenslanders that it’s good for them if the government switches off their air conditioning. As we pay more than ever for electricity, we also lose control of even our household appliances. If we get something back for the overpriced service, the propaganda unit calls this a payment, and a benefit. If you have a Christmas party and 30 guests and you can’t use your own air conditioner, don’t forget, the State knows best. If it causes “whitenoise” interference, adds one more failure point, or causes people to turn their air conditioners down in temperature preemptively, or program them to come on earlier, who cares?

If the ABC says something is smart, we know it’s …

Power companies will soon be paying you to cut your energy use

Stephen Long, ABC

The units installed on the walls of his apartment look the same as any other air conditioners, but there is a difference. They’re fitted with “PeakSmart” technology. It allows the electricity network company to send a signal that turns the air conditioning down for a [...]

Jeopardy: What happens when your single largest generator is uncontrolled and coordinated by clouds? Watch Western Australia

Western Australia is a giant experiment: Even the Energy Experts are saying solar is  jeopardizing the grid — it’s “dumb”

Watch this space — blackout coming, 3 years and counting…

The Western Australian grid is a separate island from the rest of the nation. It’s roughly a 2.5 GW system for 2.5 million people. WA is getting into trouble faster than nearly anywhere else. Solar PV is now up to …. something larger than 850MW (which is the size of the coal fired generator). The ABC doesn’t tell us what the real figure is (according to the AEMO it’s around 1300MW, and growing at 120MW a year). There are no interconnectors to rescue WA, just the taxpayer or hapless electricity consumer.

Unreliable solar is now the largest single generator in the Western Australian grid. It’s not only bad because there are no other states to dump the excess energy on, or to save the state, but despite the vast size nearly everyone lives within 100 kms (60 miles). So when the sun peaks for one it nearly peaks for all. When the clouds roll over, especially when those nice north-south aligned fronts roll in, it covers most of the [...]

Japan: The precautionary principle killed more people than the Fukushima nuclear disaster

The panicked closure of nuclear power in Japan pushed electricity prices up. The UN agrees that no people died from radiation in the Fukushima event, but the frenzied over-evacuation killed up to 2,000 people. After that, higher electricity prices led to at least 1280 extra deaths in the 21 largest cities. That translates into 4,500 deaths if the mortality rate was similar across the rest of the country.

Japan nuclear shutdown did ‘more harm than good’, study finds

World Nuclear News

Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, by Matthew Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida and Marcella Veronesi. A discussion paper by the Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics.

“Our estimated increase in mortality from higher electricity prices significantly outweighs the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production caused more harm than good.”

The authors calculated that these higher electricity prices resulted in at least an additional 1280 deaths during 2011-2014. This is higher than a previously documented estimate of 1232 deaths which occurred as a result of the evacuation after the accident, they say.

“Since our data [on mortality related to higher [...]

Oopsie solar-battery fail? Cloud causes System Black event at Alice Springs affecting thousands

Welcome to the new complexified energy grid where a cloud can cause a system black event — knocking out power for as much as nine hours. This affected the hospital for 30 minutes and the prolonged problems caused many businesses and supermarkets to close. Alice Springs is an island microgrid servicing about 29,000 people in the centre of Australia. It was 38 degrees C yesterday when the power went out. Shame about those fridges and air conditioning units.

Alice Springs is a mini version of larger grids showing how fragile these new complicated systems of multiple generators based on weather events and batteries can be.

Looks modern, sometimes has electricity too. Alice Springs  |  Photo by Stefano, Wikimedia.

 Yesterday: Thousands impacted by Alice Springs power blackout*

Steve Vivian, ABC News

Thousands of residents in Central Australia went without power yesterday afternoon, with some experiencing blackout conditions for up to nine hours.

Electricity was cut across the Alice Springs region around 2:30pm yesterday and was not restored in some areas until 10:47pm.

Today: Inquiry called, and explanations garbled — NT Chief Minister announces review

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner told ABC Darwin [...]

Basslink cable out again, costing Victorians more as prices rise

The Basslink cable has gone down again, and is expected to be out of action til mid-October. Luckily for Tasmania, the dams are at 45% full. However in Victoria, which sits on one of the largest brown coal reserves in the world, currently prices are hitting $300/MWh every morning and every evening at peak time.  This graph below shows 5 minute prices for the last two days in Victoria. Every dollar Victoria saves at lunchtime from solar generation is lost a few hours later, and then some. Though it’s wrong to use the word “saves” at any time of day. The wholesale price of brown coal power for years was $30/MWh, and this below is a wholesale price graph. Even the lunchtime “low prices” are twice as expensive as brown coal which can supply all day, every day and for hundreds of years to come and doesn’t cause voltage surges, frequency instability, or house fires, and doesn’t need backup batteries, demand management schemes, free movie tickets, or dark hospitals.

The AEMO must be counting their lucky stars that this happened at probably the “best” time of year when demand is lower.

….

 

The effect of the Basslink outage [...]

Bluescope spends a billion in US because “cheap energy”

Add another billion to the cost of the Renewable Energy Target?

In the last few days Bluescope Steel (formerly BHP) has confirmed it will spend US$700m (AU$1b) to expand it’s North Star steel mill in Ohio. So there are multiple headlines. But back in February CEO Mark Vassella explained exactly why they were thinking of it, and his first reason was “energy prices”. Last week, high energy prices were even “a tragedy” for Australian manufacturing. This week however, he’s clarified his position by muddying it up. Now there other reasons and the solution is to fix our gas prices. He’s backpedaling and tossing quotes that happen to help the renewables industry.

Perhaps he’s been heavied by his PR and strategy team? Now he’s saying that energy costs matter, but labor costs do too and “we weren’t ever going to put another steel mill in Australia”. He’s even saying energy costs “did not play a role” — the complete opposite. These will become the quotes the renewable energy fans rely on. Apparently, now what he really wants is cheaper gas — which requires a socialist government-driven solution to fix gas prices, and it’s safe for anyone to mention anything that requires [...]

Unexpected UK EarthHour at peak time Friday — just after Wind Power hits new high?

Fragile grids

Over a million people customers lost power in the UK yesterday thanks to the sudden outage of a gas and a wind plant. Some of the country’s biggest railway stations were inoperable.  Passengers were stuck on trains for up to seven hours. Others stayed in hotels, walked miles or paid “hundreds” for taxis. The outpatient sections of Ipswich Hospital were blacked out for 15 minutes when backup generators failed. “At the height of the Friday rush hour, all trains out of King’s Cross were suspended and remained so for most of the evening.” — BBC. Commuters resorted to using their phones as torches to get out of tunnels in the dark.

Urgent Investigation called for into “fiasco”

According to headlines, at this early stage before the investigation all we know for sure is that wind power is definitely not to blame, but Boris might be. (Seriously, it’s the no-deal Brexit that hasn’t happened).

Officially, people are saying in solemn knowing tones that it is “extremely rare”  for two generators to go out at once. But the odd thing about this is how small the loss was. Barfield Gas power is only a 730 MW generator, and Hornsea Wind [...]

The planned electricity shortages begin and duped Australians say “thanks”

Once upon a time Australians were rich enough to afford electricity on demand

Now obedient Australian’s are impressed with getting tiny refund for having voluntary mini-kinda-blackout.

Presumably, people are either desperate or already so trained in paying unnecessarily exorbitant electricity bills that they are grateful just to get a tiny fraction of their electricity payments back as an incentive for switching off when it suits those managing our inadequate infrastructure.

Demand response is a sales term for a voluntarily “doing without”. The ABC describes it as a wonderful new market force held back by selfish corporate greed (wouldn’t you know it?). The ABC doesn’t mention that electricity used to cost much less before we artificially forced renewables onto the grid and drove out the cheap reliable baseload generators or make the remaining ones less efficient and more expensive. But who remembers 1995?  Were ABC researchers even born then?

It’s like 50 years of history doesn’t exist:

Another graph the ABC won’t show on TV

Behind-the-scenes battle over future of Australia’s energy market

It’s called demand response – it allows customers to save thousands of dollars by switching their appliances to lower electricity use at peak times.

[...]

18 years of Renewable Energy Target means an expensive and unstable grid, and still 75% coal

A big new study by electricity grid nerds (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) shows that after all the money and pain of 20 years of forced transition Australia’s electricity has shifted from 85% coal powered to 75% coal powered, which cost billions and as a bonus, made electricity more expensive and unstable. We drove out some brown coal, but swapped it for black coal. Instead of ousting coal power, the extra solar and wind power replaced some gas and hydro.

The authors are genuine independent experts, and the report is incredibly detailed — so this is rare — but still suffers from serious drawbacks:

The team doesn’t question the need for an artificial expensive transition. Almost all the problems they describe are caused by government policies that task our grid with changing the climate as well as producing cheap and reliable electricity. In a grid being ruined by inept policy, the implied solutions almost all involve more regulation and government policy. If our gas prices are too high we could ban sales overseas, but then we lose the export income. The left hand steals from the right. The free market solution is to use another fuel, [...]

More renewables, more record prices

Once again, bad luck for renewables. The AEMO put out their report for the first quarter of 2019. Despite a massive growth in renewables, power prices are still not falling as predicted.

The report highlights that record high spot wholesale electricity prices were set in Victoria and South Australia, and nearly in everywhere else as well:

• Victoria and South Australia’s quarterly average spot wholesale electricity prices of $166/MWh and $163/MWh were their highest on record.

• Victoria and New South Wales recorded their highest underlying energy price on record, while Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania recorded their seconded highest energy prices on record.

These record highs were not just billion dollar price spikes, but the actual underlying energy prices as well.

Looks like a trend here:

Wholesale electricity prices, NEM, Australia, Q1, 2019 | Click to enlarge.

The news gets reported but somehow coal and heat get the blame?

Record power bills in NSW, Vic

Perry Williams, The Australian

Power prices in NSW and Victoria soared to their highest level on record in the first quarter of 2019, with the jump blamed on high coal and gas tariffs and searing summer [...]