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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More bad luck for South Australia, yet another blackout, 300 powerlines down, 125,000 homes cut off

A fifth of South Australia lost power yesterday due to a nasty storm.

You would think with all the climate models predicting more of every kind of extreme weather that South Australia, of all places, which is spending millions to prevent this sort of weather, would have upgraded their transmission lines to cope with it? Then again, maybe the models didn’t exactly predict these, not-so-extreme 120km/hr gusts.

Still Adelaide has a good desal plant to help them cope with climate change.

That wasn’t the case back in 1948 when a cyclone went through.

Roofs were blown off, flash floods occurred and a frigate washed ashore in 1948. (Click to read it all).

For the poor people of the west coast of SA, this may be their fourth blackout in four months. Some had another blackout last week due to lightning and a wind gust of “up to 111km/hr”.  It doesn’t look like this has anything to do with renewables, it appears to be inadequate infrastructure and probably the return of a natural weather cycle (Adelaide was hit by a cyclone in 1948, widespread damage in 1954, much damage in 1927, and in 1910 and 1916):

Almost one-fifth [...]

If only “free energy” was free. UK Govt spending £319bn on quest to change future weather

(More at the Daily Mail)

UPDATE: Full GWPF report (PDF) A bargain at half the price

The geniuses in the UK government decided to take £10,800 from every UK household to cool the world by a figure which, rounded to the nearest tenth of a degree, is 0.0 degrees C a century from now.

The Daily Mail:

Hot air: Bombshell report shows green levies backed by government will cost the economy £319bn by 2030 The radical shift to green, renewable energy will have cost £319bn by 2030 The huge sum is three times the annual NHS budget for England The policy will be adding an average burden of £584 a year to every household by 2020 and £875 by 2030 Shocking report takes its calculations from official figures issued by government

The real cost to poorer families paying vastly higher electricity bills might be measured in terms of people choosing second best health options, putting off treatments, foregone holidays, going cold, and for some on the brink, perhaps divorce or worse. (It’s hard to imagine how forcing people to do £10k of pointless work will improve mental health stats).  If the UK government came knocking at doors asking for [...]

South Australia: blackout costs $367m, normal electricity twice the price, reserve shortfalls coming in January

Comforting to know that hundreds of millions were saved because the SA blackout hit at 4pm:

Today in SA: blackout cost $367m but could have been worse

The results of a comprehensive survey of Business SA members of the impact of the September 28 blackout released today also found many did not have business interruption insurance and, of those who did, more than half were not covered for losses resulting from the outage.

The overall financial impact on South Australia was a loss of $367m but, in occurring late in the trading day, the effect of the blackout was lower than it would have been if it had happened first thing in the morning.

“Considering 70 per cent of respondents had power restored within 24 hours we are looking at a cost of close to $120,000 per minute for business in the state,” the report found. –The Australian

Only 12% of businesses surveyed had backup generators.

Who wants electricity at twice the price? Judith Sloan:

The Australian Energy Market Operator says average electricity prices in South Australia next year will be 1.7 times higher than in NSW and 2.4 times higher than [...]

Apocalypse On. Trump appoints climate denier in charge of EPA. “Threatens planet!” like Nazi, ISIS, arsonist.

It’s an eco-Worriers nightmare. Donald Trump appointed the man who’s been suing the EPA as its new chief. Scott Pruitt   The Oklahoma Attorney General has been a leading figure in working to stop Obama’s EPA’s Clean Power Plan, an executive order that tried to circumvent Congress.

Trump heard Al Gore’s best arguments on Monday and acted accordingly.

Pruitt obviously knows the worst flaws of the EPA and in detail. He might even be able to get the EPA to tackle real environmental problems instead of fake ones. Who could be better? (Marc Morano, Nigel Farage? Hard to say).

Donald Trump will name Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, an ardent opponent of President Barack Obama’s measures to curb climate change, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a Trump transition team official said on Wednesday, a choice that enraged green activists and cheered the oil industry.

Trump’s choice of Pruitt fits neatly with the Republican president-elect’s promise to cut back the EPA and free up drilling and coal mining, and signals the likely rollback of much of Obama’s environmental agenda.

Since becoming the top prosecutor for the major oil- and gas-producing state in 2011, Pruitt, [...]

More blackout damage — Alcoa smelter to run at just 27% capacity for up to six months

The fallout from the small blackout last week will cost jobs and reduce production for months to come. In Victoria, the Alcoa smelter in Portland was hit at the same time as 200,000 customers in South Australia. But the short power outage meant that hot metal turned solid at the smelter, damaging equipment. One potline is totally shut down, the other hobbles along.

Manager of Portland Aluminium, Peter Chellis, said crews had been working tirelessly to stabilise the plant since it was taken offline.

“Obviously a long power interruption freezes the metal, and when you bring the power back on that creates what we call ‘burn offs’,” he said. “So we’ve been taking the pots that can’t be fixed out of circuit, and at this point in time line two is looking quite stable.”

He said the smelter was operating at just 27 per cent of its capacity. “At the moment we haven’t started to work on any scenario other than stabilising the plant,” he said. “But I think in three to six months we can turn around lines one and two.”

 – Source: Alcoa smelter to run at 27% [...]

Green leader South Australia gets energy security the diesel way

Probably not what Senator Hansen-Young had in mind for South Australia:

SA irrigators, farmers turn to generators for electricity stability

By Lauren Waldhuter

Irrigators and farmers are buying diesel generators to secure their power supply, as price and stability issues continue to plague South Australia’s energy grid, industry experts have said.

Susie Green, head of the state’s apple and pear grower and cherry grower associations, said some farmers were now investing in generators for stability. “More and more I’m hearing that people are looking at forms of back-up generation for irrigation pumps and all different systems around their orchards,” she said.  — ABC

One more cost to add to the price of wind and solar powered electrons. It’s not just the cost of a blackout, it’s the dollar volatility too. As the spot price soared to $13,000 MWh power companies tell irrigators to turn off their pumps.

How much capital is tied up in fuel and generators that are bought as insurance against government mandated grid failures which are themselves the  price of “insurance” against the weather changing.

h/t David B

Parts of South Australia blackout again: BHP Chief warns of jobs and investment cuts

 Just another day with a grid on the edge

Adelaide and surrounds

It was only 200,000 “customers”, only for an hour or so in the middle of the night. But yet again the Great Green Experiment that is SA ran out of electricity. Olympic Dam (the largest uranium deposit in the world and fourth largest copper deposit) was not operating properly for four hours. A fault at the Victorian interconnector meant 220MW of load had to “shed” — a fancy term for throwing the switch so the whole system didn’t break. SA was “islanded” — cut off from the rest of the national grid for about 3 hours, and clearly it can’t make it on its own. Total power lost was about a fifth of the SA grid.

Remember, this has absolutely, definitely nothing to do with the last blackout or renewables says the SA Energy Minister:

Mr Koutsantonis said there was no way renewable energy generation in SA could be blamed for the loss of power.

Andrew Dillon from AusNet said the overnight outage had no link to factors that caused a recent state-wide blackout in SA, and this time was hindered by the timing [...]

Victoria paying big to drive at breakneck speed to repeat South Australia’s blackout

Victoria is driving down Blackout Drive. They have reports from South Australia up ahead, they know where the road goes, but the state is paying for the first class ticket on a trip to RiskyGrid.

Victoria has 5.7 million people, over three times bigger than South Australia. Right now SA relies on the Victorian grid stability to keep running, and gets up to 800MW of reliable electrons from the state-next-door. But Victoria wants to add more wind power — theoretically the equivalent of a big coal fired plant (like Hazelwood).

Tom Quirk and Paul Miskelly looked closely at the numbers and patterns and see the writing on the wall. To help expensive, unreliable, intermittent green energy survive the government subsidizes it by around 9c per KWhr (bear in mind the wholesale rate for coal fired power is 3 – 4c per kWhr.) The government also demands retailers have a 12.5% mix of renewables, and that they accept most electrons from wind power whenever and wherever it is available. This strange anti-free market rule is called “nondispatchable” power, meaning the system can’t just throw it away if there is any demand at all. Whereas coal [...]

Ontario’s electricity, “carnage”, “a train wreck”, electricity costs double to reduce carbon at $250/ton

 Boondoggle: How Ontario’s pursuit of renewables broke their electricity system

Financial Post, Terence Corcoran

The Green industry has done over Ontario consumers. Government control of the electricity market was “cheered on by a growing industrial complex of wind and solar promoters backed by a large contingent of financial firms, big name consultants, fee-collecting law firms and major corporations. All were anxious to play a lucrative role fulfilling renewables objectives”.

Ontario was going to be the North American leader in renewable energy. It would save lives, create jobs, cost nothing, but instead the electricity bills have doubled, no lives were saved and the only jobs created were temporary (and almost certainly cost more jobs in other areas due to high electricity costs). The only “success” for the extra wind and solar power that’s locked into the grid is that it has “saved” some meaningless CO2 emissions at the exorbitant, flagrant cost of $250 per ton. Green energy was supposed to save $4.4billion in healthcare and other costs, but virtually none of that materialized.

Costs have gone from 5.5c a KWh in 2006 to 11c KWh in 2016. (How is it still so incredibly cheap ask Aussies? We are the largest coal [...]