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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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 [...]

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 [...]

Invisible costs of renewables: “Staggeringly high” $125b for US electricity consumers

A major new “nail in coffin” study shows the more renewables we force onto the market the more expensive electricity gets.

Everyday someone tells us renewables are cheap, but these estimates come from flawed “LCOE” method (at best) supposedly the lifetime cost, but without many indirect costs. Granted, it’s hard to figure out what the bill for renewable energy is. But what really matters to every man and his dog, is the cost effect on the whole system, not a cherry-slice comparison of a few sunny-windy hours a day which doesn’t take into account the effect that renewable energy has on the rest of the 24/7 electricity grid.

Greenstone, McDowell and Nath have analysed all 29 states in the US where there are laws demanding a certain percentage of energy be renewable. On average a 4% increase in renewables led to a price rise of 17% and the impost was wildly high compared to any remotely sensible cost-benefit analysis. Renewables are the car insurance bill that costs 3 times as much as your car. Any serious environmentalist would hate renewables.

Michael Shellenberger, Forbes

The cost to consumers has been staggeringly high: ”All in all, seven years after passage, [...]

Exodus: 10% of Venezuela has left the country

A nation struggling to get the lights on still:

Well that is a first! Lights in a city in #Venezuela are going crazy on and of and on repeat again. #SinLuz #SinAgua. Some people in Venezuela have now gone 210 hours without lights or either running water. pic.twitter.com/CETnHlNYAT

— Sotiri Dimpinoudis ❁‏ (@sotiridi) April 3, 2019

‘New York Times’ Journalist Describes An ‘Almost Unimaginable’ Crisis In Venezuela

New York Times journalist Nicholas Casey was in Maracaibo, Venezuela, in March when the country was hit by a six-day blackout…     “By the fourth day of the power outage, that was when you started to hear shots getting fired in the street,” Casey says. “People were beginning to loot, and the store owners were coming out to defend their stores.”

The U.N. estimates that it’s upwards of 3 million people who have left. Now remember, this is a country of 30 million people. So we’re talking about 10 percent of the population that has gone.

A few weeks with intermittent power and the country is becoming uninhabitable.

When a government tries to print its way out of trouble by giving away “free” money it seems cheap but costs the [...]

Renewables stress: The daily battle just to keep the lights on in Australia

Who’s afraid of a cascading blackout?

Last year investment in unreliable and asynchronous generators doubled in Australia thanks to government decree. For some reason, adding another few gigawatts of iffy capricious infrastructure to a 50GW finely-tuned-system appears to put the whole national grid in a near constant state of emergency. The AEMO (our market operator) had to intervene in the South Australian market eight times in 2016/17, but last year they had to do it 101 times.

This warning comes from the  Australian Energy Market Commission (AMEC) which makes the rules for the national grid. Why are they baring the dirty renewables laundry? Because the answer to the crisis is always bigger government and this is a reason to call for it.

Renewables stress the grid

Perry Williams, The Australian

Australia’s electricity grid is relying on emergency safety nets to keep the lights on, …

The deterioration of the strength of the electricity network — most pronounced in South Australia — is also spreading to southwest NSW, northwest Victoria and north Queensland, adding to wholesale costs incurred by users.

SA’s electricity system is increasingly operating under the direct intervention of the grid [...]

Electric cars are perfect for socialists: Labor plan boosts Big-Gov, but worse for CO2, pollution, coal use, and grid

Labor’s electric car plan means higher emissions, more pollution, more coal use, and threatens the grid but it’s great for socialists.

Fantasy-land: Labor wants half of all new cars sales to be EV’s by 2030. That’s a radical change in a big country that loves its cars and drives great distances. Last year only 0.2% of new car purchases were EV’s. Our grid is already struggling, and extra charging cars would push it over the edge and may add something like $20b a year in extra network and generation costs.

This makes no sense on so many levels: in Australia EV’s are 80% fossil fuel powered and over their lifetime they cause more pollution than internal combustion engines.

Electric Vehicles produce more carbon emissions if the grid that charges them is powered by fossil fuels.

The results reveal that the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of a battery electric vehicle production range from 92.4 to 94.3 GJ and 15.0 to 15.2 t CO2eq, which are about 50% higher than those of an internal combustion engine vehicle, 63.5 GJ and 10.0 t CO2eq. This substantial change can be mainly attributed to the production of traction batteries, the essential components [...]

Power collapses again in Venezuela

What a mess. The power is down again in more than half the country — coming and going. People are desperate for water. Schools, industry and state buildings are closed. The Russians have sent in troops. The US has told them to get out.

It’s easy to take civilization for granted — until you don’t have one.

Urgent: New disruption identified in #Venezuela 40 hours after onset of national power outage; 91% of country now offline reversing partial recovery; incident ongoing #SinLuz #Apagon #27Mar ⬇️https://t.co/7nhWVW9v7a pic.twitter.com/xA8ZRdmagc

— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) March 27, 2019

Update: It has been 55 hours since the onset of nationwide power outages in #Venezuela; 69% of the country remains offline after a new drop in connectivity #SinLuz #Apagon #27Mar ⬇️https://t.co/7nhWVW9v7a pic.twitter.com/7trvLoLqjd

— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) March 28, 2019

 

h/t to Rafe Champion, who links on Catallaxy to my post on how hard it is to restart a grid. And also to Lance’s comment which was so useful I added it as an update to that post and which is now starring on Catallaxy too .  In case you missed his comment, and because it’s so apt, here it is again:

Lance predicted [...]

“Market Bloodbath”: Too many new remote renewables projects means high losses

As Australia push-pumps “renewables” into remote locations some of their incomes are suddenly being cut because the losses (as they transmit across long lines) are higher than they expected. On March 8th the AEMO rerated many generators and this year it’s being called a bloodbath for wind and solar. Some of them,  like AGL’s Silverton wind farm face losses of 20%.

It all revolves around something called Marginal Loss Factors, a value that is set by the AEMO each year for each generator. The rating is reduced by transmission losses over distance and also by “congestion” from other renewables which are popping up in the same remote locations far from the cities and industries that need the electricity they make. This sudden loss of expected income threatens new wind and solar projects (as it should — hello market signal!) Sometimes the loss factors are hard to predict years in advance which makes it difficult to also predict whether a project will return a profit (even despite the guaranteed subsidies).

Another renewable inefficiency strikes — “marginal loss factors”

Generators are paid according to the electricity that arrives rather than what they produce at the plant. (Seems fair). This is called the Marginal [...]

Venezuela’s melt down: Blackout day six and the grid struggles to reboot

Venezuela has 31 million people and has had almost no electricity for six days. There are estimates on Twitter (#sinluz) suggesting that about half is back up as I write, but the stories of chaos, death and disaster are surely just starting to come out as communication lines open.  The water coming out of taps is black, possibly contaminated with oil (are those shots fake?),  the Pepsi plant was stripped bare, see the video. People are desperate:  Shop owners are apparently shooting looters. At least one tweeter claims people are eating zoo animals. One baker took his own life after his shop was overrun and everything was stolen.  It may not be over yet either — the grid  recovered almost as far a few days ago, then collapsed again. Indeed, today explosions have been reported at an electrical substation at La Tiama, as well as other substations. What a debacle, a disaster. Babies in hospitals are being ventilated by hand. Many life support systems are off.

Netblocks tracks connectivity in Venezuala, which seems to be a reasonable proxy for power, and clearly electricity is being rebuilt partially, then collapsing again.

Update: 119 hours after the onset of nationwide power [...]

Melbourne, 200,000 houses blacked out, 10 companies curtailed, as 1-in-3-year hot day hits

***UPDATED: Melbourne has been 42C or more around 50 times since 1855. That’s one in three years. Thanks to Bob Fernley-Jones for the correction.

 They were only 250 million watts short:

Loy Yang, powering Victoria, and soon probably “taking the blame” too.

Rachel Baxendale, The Australian

h/t Des Moore

More than 200,000 Victorian households had their power cut off yesterday in a bid to protect the state’s energy system from shutting down, as the Andrews government was forced to admit there was not enough power to keep up with soaring demand in sweltering summer heat.

Homes were blacked out, traffic lights across Melbourne were switched off and businesses were forced to close for up to two hours after the Australian Energy Market Operator enforced rolling power outages to make up a 250 megawatt shortfall in supply.

The State Energy Minister (Lily D’Ambrosio) said there would “absolutely” be no blackouts this morning and the rolling blackouts started 90 minutes later. Welcome to the USSAustralia where we hope to make your 150th Birthday Party 0.001 degrees cooler but we can’t predict our electricity grid for the next hour and a half.

Dark ages [...]

SA and Vic at high risk of blackouts this summer

Even the AEMO is warning of blackouts coming, because the BoM is forecasting hot, dry conditions. El Nino on the way, and I hear rumours our Snowy Hydro Dam levels are not great.

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There’ll be blackouts this summer if nothing is done, AEMO report warns

Stephanie Dalzell, ABC News

Victoria and South Australia are at a high risk of forced blackouts this summer if no action is taken, according to the latest report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

Not enough supply? Put another million bucks on the BBQ:

To stop that from occurring, the AEMO has sourced emergency energy reserves, which are typically not available to the market and are only accessed when supply is not keeping up with demand.

Those emergency reserves — otherwise known as Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) resources — do not come cheap.

It’s only money:

The report stated that last summer emergency energy cost taxpayers in Victoria and South Australia almost $52 million.

That equated to an average of an extra $6 per household bill.

That’s nothing. The two day heatwave last January burnt up $400 m [...]

Both AGL, Origin warn renewables threaten grid, create chaos, drive off baseload, cause higher cost

Another Hazelwood-size batch of renewables coming on line in Australia by 2020.

That’s 1600MW of random subsidized energy dropping into a market that is artificially priced to value weather-changing potential over reliability. Now, even the bosses of two gentailers which both benefit from renewables subsidies are warning things are chaotic, going to get turbulent and more expensive. Why do they admit this? Probably because they want the government to add another layer of policy interference to reward “firm capacity” which they both also own.

Instead, lets get the government and the RET octopus off our grid. Surely we can set up a market that allows players who want electricity at 9am tomorrow to pay more for generators which can actually guarantee to be there. All the market players who don’t care when or if electricity arrives can buy the unreliable energy. Which businesses, industries or homes can use electricity that arrives at midday and random other times, remembering that wind power drops to 5% of capacity for days sometimes:

Renewables threaten volatile power supply, says AGL, Origin bosses

Perry Williams, Matt Chambers, The Australian

Power giants AGL Energy and Origin Energy have raised concerns over a surge [...]

At 40C Victoria has a one in three chance of blackouts in summer

In Victoria, 40C used to be known as “A Hot Day”, but  now thanks to climate change it’s called an “extreme condition”  (wasn’t it meant to become a common event?) Nevermind.

The AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) has pretty much warned us the Victorian electrical grid can no longer cope with “a hot day”.

[The AEMO] predicts a one-in-three chance of load shedding under extreme conditions this summer unless additional action is taken.

“Specifically, temperatures of 40C or more in Victoria could be the catalyst for extreme, one-in-10-year electricity demand conditions.

“Particularly when these temperatures are experienced towards the end of the day when business demand is still relatively high, residential demand is increasing, and rooftop PV’s contribution is declining.”

So since solar PV is useless in this situation, the Victorian government is spending one billion dollars installing Solar PV. One billion dollars of generation that is guaranteed not to work when we need it.

Will the new PM, Scott Morrison, be able to solve this problem? Thousands of engineers can.

Once upon a time even the brainless inanimate free market did.

h/t Dave B, Pat

PS: Still travelling.

“No bias here” says Aust Energy Market chief while planning 100% for unnecessary, pointless renewables transition

Pull the other one.

No Bias — Audrey Zibelman,

Audrey Zibelman, the improbable green-lawyer manager of our National Energy Market claims her advice is not biased towards renewables. This is the same Zibelman who tells us that “resisting the energy transition is like trying to resist the internet.” As if governments had to legislate “An Internet Target” and mandate we do 16% of our shopping online. The same Zibelman believes  “we’re the last generation on earth who can really do something about climate change.” She thinks she’s changing global weather with our power grid. By 2100 historians will have people rolling in the aisles with that one. What were they thinking?*

Her bias is so all encompassing she can’t imagine a world twenty years hence which still runs on coal and gas and views the temporary experiment with unreliables as a disastrous, predictable mistake, a historic dead-end. Renewables are the B-size-batteries, the hydrogen-filled-air-ships and the X-rays for shoe shops that didn’t take over the world. She assumes that the forced “transition” to renewables is inevitable, natural and necessary. What if it’s an artificial, uneconomic, unnecessary accident of profit hungry industry rent-seekers and  fatuous virtue signaling fools?

Hands up who [...]

UK: smart meters are expected to save a whopping £11 annually

No one needed a smart meter when we had smart baseload.  Beware Australians, despite the promises and threats, smart meters may or may not make UK customers a paltry saving. When all is said and done it’s not even clear the benefits outweigh the costs.

 People who have smart meters installed are expected to save an average of £11 annually on their energy bills, much less than originally hoped. A report from a parliamentary group now predicts a dual fuel saving of £26.

Customer pays, but energy firms save more:

Customers have financed the smart meter programme by paying a levy on their energy bills, while suppliers have frequently blamed the levy for rising costs. However, the report claimed most of the eventual savings would be made by energy firms, rather than consumers.

It is an £11 billion programme. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears the country would be richer if the government just gave back £170 to each person instead.

Smart meter looks like a dumb elephant:

The report also said that:

More than half of smart meters “go dumb” after switching, meaning they stop communicating with the supplier [...]