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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Another way to destroy a grid: add a million electric vehicles

New electric vehicles have big fat batteries, which will help solve the problem known as “charge anxiety” (let’s call that the Flat-Bat-Fear).

The new fat-batteries, however, have the small catch that they need two days to trickle charge. Hmm. Then there is the other catch that each slow charger (7KW) is equivalent to adding nearly three houses to the grid.     ur Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg predicts there will be one million electric cars on Australian roads by 2030.

You might think this is slow motion train wreck, but we might avoid this if households opt for fast 50KW chargers. In that case we can do the train-wreck at top speed.

Each fast charger will apparently be “like” adding the equivalent of 20, count them, 20 homes.

This is fearmongering obviously — no one is going to want a fast charger when they could leave the car in the garage for 48 hours instead.

New Zealand report claims new generation electric vehicles threaten the power network

Ben Packham, The Australian

New Zealand’s biggest energy distributor, Vector, warned electric vehicle chargers “put a large electrical load on the network”, with even 2.4kW “trickle” chargers adding the equivalent of one additional [...]

Electricity prices fell for forty years in Australia, then renewables came…

Electricity prices declined for forty years. Obviously that had to stop.

Here’s is the last 65 years of Australian electricity prices — indexed and adjusted for inflation. During the coal boom, Australian electricity prices declined decade after decade.  As renewables and national energy bureaucracies grew, so did the price of electricity. Must be a coincidence…

Today all the hard-won masterful efficiency gains of the fifties, sixties and seventies have effectively been reversed in full.

Indexed Real Consumer Electricity Prices, Australia, 1955-2017.

For most of the 20th Century the Australian grid was hotch potch of separate state grids and mini grids. (South Australia was only connected in 1990). In 1998 the NEM (National Energy Market) began, a feat that finally made bad management possible on a large scale. Though after decades of efficiency gains, Australians would have to wait years to see new higher “world leading” prices. For the first years of the NEM prices stayed around $30/MWh.

But sooner or later  a national system is a sitting duck for one small mind to come along and truly muck things up.

Please spread this graph far and wide.

Thanks to a Dr Michael Crawford who did the original, [...]

AEMC wants input on how to save Australia’s Electricity Grid — Due Monday Feb 6th

AEMC is the Australian Energy Market Commission. It’s “the rule maker for Australian Electricity and gas markets”. They make the National Electricity, Gas, and Energy Retail rules. There are a lot of government bureacracies. AEMC sound more influential than most, and they are asking for consultation, but by Monday. There will be a chance to comment in March, but I know some readers have material already written that is relevant. Sorry about the short notice.

AEMC invites consultation on ways to deliver a reliable supply of energy at the lowest cost

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on the Interim report.

[...]

Political Vandals: Victoria, the diesel state, bans, hides, cheap cleaner gas, blames fuses, air conditioners

How much do we hate Lignite Gas?

Victoria is suffering the largest rises in wholesale electricity prices in the country, as it sits on large gas fields that it won’t touch. Why — geniuses hope to reduce global droughts and floods and sea level in 2100.

Robert Gottleibsen savages the state governments that conducted the renewables experiment without mentioning the real costs or the cheap alternatives.

If Victoria allowed its gas to be developed the energy scene in Australia would be transformed, as would the outlook for the nation.

But that’s not much consolation for those in vast areas of rural NSW and Victoria plus suburban Melbourne and small areas of South Australia who suffered blackouts or reduced power on Sunday night. It’s true part of the outages were caused by fuses, but the outages were too widespread. It’s another smokescreen.

If similar conditions are repeated on weekdays and/or extend over several days the blackouts will be devastating as a result of the political vandalism. Government spin doctors and others are desperately trying to conceal the truth about the damage governments headed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (plus her predecessors [...]

Bonfire Electricity Bills! Two day heat wave burns nearly $400m: $45 per head in Vic, $70 each in SA.

While geniuses are bragging that the Australian grid survived two normal hot summer days without falling over, they don’t mention the flaming spectacle of the cost.

Tom Quirk and Paul Miskelly, after a couple of suggestions from me, have calculated the full staggering electricity bill at $119m for SA and $267m for Victoria, making it nearly a $400 million dollar bonfire — for two days that were neither the hottest ever, or records for peak electricity use.  See their work and details below.

To put this in perspective, a whole new gas plant could have been built for around $230 million. Instead of vaporising this money, Australians could have constructed one whole new gas generation plant, paid it off, and had money left over to give away free electricity.

Every household of four in Victoria just lost something like $170 of productivity for two days of electricity, and in South Australia, $280. Respectively, $45 per Victorian and $70 per South Australian. While businesses also share this burden, ultimately companies are made of people, and this is productivity lost to both states. The losers are shareholders, customers, and employees. Some will be interstate, but the pain flows back. The price is [...]

Peak heat: Electricity prices lifting off; industry shutting off in Australia. Hospitals switching off lights, “Code Yellow Alert”.

UPDATE: MELBOURNE hospitals are enacting emergency procedures to prepare for the potential loss of power. Hospitals are switching off non-essential electrical equipment, including some lights, to minimize energy use. This is a “Code Yellow” alert asking hospitals to check their back up generators are ready.  The Victorian Minister insists this is not about the “threat” of blackouts, but because hospitals need to be “good corporate citizens”. Pull the other one. At the very least, this is about reducing electricity bills.   h/t Chris in Hervey Bay.

See further UPDATES on “The art of blaming coal” at the bottom.

How much fun can you have? The AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) projects that as temperatures hit 42C in Victoria, prices are forecast to rise over 100 fold. The AEMO is furiously busy issuing market notices.

The ABC tells us it is 42C, that Portland Alumina has reduced production, but for an ‘undisclosed price’ (why can’t taxpayers know what they are paying this group, not to produce aluminium today?) Meanwhile the AEMO has put the RERT plan into action: “Under the RERT scheme, AEMO has contracted 884 megawatts of “demand side response” across Victoria, NSW and South Australia.” [...]

Summer heat — electricity prices hit cap of $14 per KWhr in SA, almost there in Victoria

Watching the AEMO dashboard as a hot summer day hits

Is this the summer crunch-time that the the National Grid managers have been fearing?

Today things are not running smoothly in the green states of Victoria and SA where prices this minute have hit $14,000 per MW hour, or $14 per KWh. These are wholesale prices. Right now heads of major industries are watching the dashboard, turning off everything they can turn off, or switching on the diesel generators, or counting hundreds of thousands or even millions being added to their bills if production cannot stop.

Demand Management schemes (a form of load shedding) will be running to reduce demand — air conditioners will be remotely switched down.

How much of the productive brain power of Vic and SA is distracted from more useful tasks today?

The AEMO has put out an Actual Lack of Reserve Notice (LOR1) saying that Victoria is 300 MW short: “The contingency capacity reserve required is 1100 MW. The minimum reserve available is 815 MW”. Another notice of a “non-credible contingency event” (a code for “something broke”) reports that a busbar, transformer, and line have tripped or opened in Victoria, unplanned.

Victoria

[...]

Another hidden cost of intermittent renewables (It’s time to talk about FCAS and roaring price spikes!)

The shape of normal AC Electricity: 50Hz (230V) and 60Hz (110V)

Nobody says much about FCAS in public  — but it’s become a hot topic among Australia’s energy-nerds and electricity traders. It never used to be a big deal, because we got it at very low cost from huge turbines — from coal, hydro, and gas. Suddenly, it is costing a lot more. As I discovered below, in one month FCAS charges in South Australia rose from $25,000 to $26 million. Wow, just wow.

What is FCAS?

FCAS means”Frequency Control Ancillary Service”. With an AC (or alternating current) system, frequency is everything — the rapid push-pull rhythm that is the power. FCAS is a way of keeping the beat close to the heavenly 50Hz hum (or 60Hz in America and Korea). Network managers cry when things stray outside 49.85Hz or 50.15Hz. So controlling the frequency is a very necessary “other service” supplied by traditional generators, but not so much from intermittent renewables.  Large spinning turbines “do” FCAS without a lot of effort. And the cost used to be a tiny fraction of the total electricity bill, but it is rapidly rising in Australia, thanks to the effect of the RET [...]

South Australia heads back 100 years to diesel (with battery back up)

The new SA rescue plan is more diesel than battery

Diesel’s prototype engine circa 1892.

A big fuss was made today over the world record battery, but the diesel generators put on a hire-purchase plan three days ago are more than twice the power:

The world’s biggest lithium ion battery has been launched in South Australia, with Premier Jay Weatherill declaring it an example of SA “leading the world”.

The first diesel generator was patented in 1892. Go, Go, SA.

A battery bandaid arrived barely in the nick of time:

That reliability was tested before the battery’s official launch when it began dispatching around 59 megawatts into the state’s electricity network on Thursday afternoon as the state hit temperatures above 30C.

How fragile is this system?

The facility has the capacity to power 30,000 homes for up to an hour in the event of a severe blackout but is more likely to be called into action to even out electricity supplies at less critical times.

There are 673,540 households in South Australia and the Big Battery can supply 4% of them for an hour with electricity, or all of the state for a [...]

Not Powering Past Coal: 20 countries that didn’t use much coal, agree to not use much coal

Get excited everyone — the South Pacific Island of Nuie, with a population of 1,625 people has vowed not to build a coal plant. The nation is so small it is not even a member of the UN. This champion of the move away from coal is 98% powered by diesel. Everybody Cheer!

Powering Past Coal Alliance: 20 countries sign up to phase out coal power by 2030

Twenty countries including Britain, Canada and New Zealand have joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030.

The list includes none of the top 15 coal producers in the world. It’s non-binding. Nearly all the countries that have signed up to “Power Past Coal” are already powered by hydro, gas, nuclear or some combination of renewables (with interconnector back up). The Marshall Islands are powered by almost 100% diesel, with a hint of coconut oil. Luxembourg barely even generates electricity — importing 98% from other countries. And 68% of the people in Angola don’t even have access to electricity. It shouldn’t be too hard to get to fifty countries to sign this if they offer a free conference dinner to half the South Pacific, Central [...]