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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A cold snap in Queensland cut the state’s solar power to just 5% of its average daily output

As Paul McArdle of WattClarity says: “the NEM* is becoming increasingly dependent on the weather“

Saturday week ago in Queensland was cold enough to break records. Brisbane “only” made it up to 17.9C (64F). It hasn’t been that cold there in May for 40 years. At the same time a band of cloud covered the populated slice of the state.

The cloud cover meant all the large solar “farms” in Queensland — with a total rated capacity of 1.7GW — produced only 79MW as an aggregate average daily output.

 Sunshine State forgets its own branding on Saturday 23rd May 2020

Averaged across the 24 hours in the day yesterday, average aggregate output across all of the Large Solar plant in QLD was a very meagre 79MW only:

1a)  Dividing this by an aggregate 1,664MW installed capacity* across the Large Solar plant in QLD this represents a capacity factor the day of just 4.7%

Not surprisingly the same clouds that ruined the large solar farms also wrecked the rooftop solar.

One in three homes in Queensland have solar panels. With 1.8GW of theoretical capacity, rooftop solar is Queenslands largest generator (except it hardly ever produces that much). [...]

Solar Owners worried Big Brother AEMO wants to turn off their panels at noon in emergencies

Last November at lunchtime 64% of the entire generation of South Australia was coming from across thousands of small generators that the Grid Managers had no control of, and that clouds could wipe out. This is the junk conglomerate infrastructure that billions of dollars in forced subsidies have created.

The AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) has no control over the vagaries of two-thirds of the electricity generation. Audrey Zibelmen has described it as “”It’s almost like driving without your headlights.” She wants new panels to get “smart inverters” which means they can be dumb servants — controlled by the AEMO, just in case there is an emergency — lest the state suffer another System Black. They also want old panels to get the new style inverters when the next replacement is due.

Who could have seen that coming (only anyone with an engineering degree).

Poor solar home owners are feeling pretty miffed. They didn’t realize their panels were never economic, a burden on the grid, and they’ve been riding on the backs of fellow Australians for years. And after reading this ABC story (below), they still won’t know. So it’s a complete surprise to them that the green electrons they [...]

Three days of clouds and solar and battery fails leaving remote community cut off without phones

If solar power and batteries were a winner anywhere, we’d hope it would be in remote Australian communities. But a cyclone clouded over Central-Australia for a few days and the batteries ran out. People had no money, no phone and no landline either. To boot, the rain flooded the roads, so people were cut off in every sense.

Welcome to Renewable World:

Telstra says the stations that provide landline and mobile phone coverage to some remote communities in Central Australia are not robust enough to withstand several days of cloud cover.

The communities of Santa Teresa and Titjikala, south-east of Alice Springs, were without mobile and landline coverage for over thirty hours in a recent outage.

In the most recent outage, Santa Teresa was also cut off by road because of flooding.

Santa Teresa parish assistant Sister Liz Wiemers said being that isolated was alarming.

“We couldn’t use ATMs, couldn’t buy fuel, community members couldn’t buy power cards,” Sister Wiemers said, referring to the pre-paid electricity system used in remote communities.

Obviously they need diesel-gens as a back up. But because the roads were blocked Telstra couldn’t send any technicians [...]

ABC outrage: Solar in Australia no longer ‘a licence to *steal* money’

ABC writers see only the cruel obstacles in the way of a wealth transfer:

Solar generation is being buffeted by financial headwinds that are killing investment

Who knew that the whole point of financial winds is to kill off dumb investments in the first place? Not the socialist ABC.

If the ABC weren’t an advertising agency for Big Gov dependents, the headline could have read:

Artificial solar bubble busts in Australia: green investors burnt

What big government giveth…

There goes another solar powered Boom and Bust.  |  Greenenergy markets /  Wattclarity

Solar no longer ‘a licence to print money’

Investment has ” has fallen off a cliff.” And there is more of that coming: “Queensland and South Australia have been at the forefront of depressed solar prices, but Mr [Tristan] Edis argues News South Wales and Victoria will not be far behind.

By business reporter Stephen Letts, (Are they kidding? Business?)

Independent wholesale energy market consultant Allan O’Neil has waded through the 660 pages of the ‘Generator Statistical Digest (GSD) 2019′ and found one of the key themes was the struggle new solar farms were having “with the messy reality of the electricity market”.

Back then, [...]

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 [...]

Solar road is $6m epic disaster — 4% capacity, broken and so noisy speed-limits were cut

Solar Road, Normandy, France   |  Credit: KumKum

Would you like to drive slower, add to noise pollution and waste money? Then solar roads are for you:

The world’s first solar road has turned out to be a colossal failure…

Ruqayyah Moynihan and Lidia Montes, Business Insider

Two years after the world’s first solar road — the Normandy road in France — was set up, it’s turned out to be a colossal failure, according to a report by Le Monde. The road has deteriorated to a terrible state, it isn’t producing anywhere near the amount of energy it had previously pledged to, and the traffic it has brought with it is causing noise problems.

The original aim was to produce 790 kWh each day, a quantity that could illuminate a population of between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. But the rate produced stands at only about 50% of the original predicted estimates.

Even rotting leaves and thunderstorms appear to pose a risk in terms of damage to the surface of the road. What’s more, the road is very noisy, which is why the traffic limit had to be lowered to 70 kmh.

Despite costing up to roughly [...]

Solar Power at $70 is still twice the price of brown coal

More fake news: Miners are only switching to solar because they can’t get access to cheap coal fired power.

“Miners switch on to renewables”

A better headline would be: Renewable targets make electricity so expensive miners are forced to switch to renewables.

The money quote:

Emily Alford is a principal consultant at Oakley Greenwood …  [she] told The Weekend Australian that solar generation cost about $200 a megawatt hour five years ago, and had dropped to about $70-$80 now.

Compare that to 53 year old Hazelwood coal power which was selling electricity for $30/MWh in it’s last month of operation. When brown coal stations set the price in Victoria they were winning bids at prices like $13/MWh.The cheapest electricity in the world comes from 30 year old brown coal plants.

The $70-$80 estimate is artificially low. Unreliable power makes the other baseload generators more expensive, adding $30/MWh to gas generators for example. Because the back up generators have to be there, not earning money while solar feeds in, they have to charge more to recoup those costs in a shorter working period. Doh. So add that cost to solar, not the gas.

Compare the real costs and weep:

I’ll repost [...]

Solar Power hits the death spiral vertical rise in Australia

Solar installations are rapidly accelerating in Australia, surging in the last quarter by an extraordinary 482MW. This is partly due to rapidly rising electricity costs, but in the last quarter, especially amplified by an extra $2250 subsidy in Victoria which adds to current subsidies like the SRES (RET) which already cover around half the cost of installation.

This is obviously a market destroying practice but will be hailed as evidence that solar power is “surging” due to “falling prices” and “increasing demand”. More fake news.

In the land of the Renewable-Crash-Test-Dummy we’re hitting the death spiral. Every installation costs non-solar owners more (with the tally at $200pa and rising fast) and there are fewer non-solar owners left to pay. Obviously, the whole market has to be changed to ensure that solar owners pay a fair share of networking and backup costs.

If solar power was cheap, useful or competitive, it wouldn’t need the subsidies. Instead, the nation keeps adding more useless infrastructure and wondering why the price of electricity is rising.

Solar panel installations, Australia, Graph.

Data: Australian PV Institute

The tally of solar stupidity

Solar is inefficient, wilderness destroying, money-hungry, useless, grid wrecking equipment

Without subsidies the German [...]

Worlds biggest solar thermal plant axed in state that is God’s gift to solar

Despite the obstacles, the free market just saved South Australian’s $110 million dollars

The Aurora plant was to be a bigger copy of Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, California.

The Aurora Solar Thermal plant was going to be the biggest one in the world, but they couldn’t find enough private investors so it’s just been scrapped. That is despite the SA government being willing to give $110 million dollars, and the state being one of the sunniest, richest places in the world and with people already paying obscenely high prices for electricity. If Big-Solar could make it anywhere, surely there is no easier place on Planet Earth than in coal-less South Australia where competition from cheap reliable power has been completely extinguished?

A $650 million solar thermal power plant planned for Port Augusta will not go ahead after the company behind it failed to secure commercial finance for the project.

Despite all those fixed, unfair advantages, the market didn’t want to pay up for a 150MW bird frying power plant that would cost $650 million and probably only produce 30MW effectively. (The company’s prototype was Crescent Dunes which had a capacity factor of only 16%). Possibly investors [...]

“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 [...]

States with low cost solar and wind paying 1300% more at the moment

Any more free electricity and SA and Victoria will go broke.

In other news a few days ago, the retail price of electricity rose 16% in Victoria and the number of disconnections rose 21%.

In a highly critical report to be released on Tuesday, the Essential Services Commission accused energy retailers of running ineffectual hardship programs that saw customers cut off anyway in most cases.  The commission reported power prices leapt 16 per cent last financial year, feeding a 21 per cent jump in the number of disconnections as 60,732 customers had their power cut off. The ESC said the number of disconnections in the last quarter of the financial year was one of the highest on record. – Sydney Morning Herald

Enjoy all the fun of watching our Australian Electricity Market in operation live as tens of millions of dollars get converted into income for AGL, Energy Australia, ENGIE, Origin and Snowy Hydro. No wonder they love renewables.

States with the most cheap wind and solar pay the most for electricity. Graph. AEMO.

Why do we allow a few companies to own so many different and competing generators across the entire market?

AEMO: State of [...]

Solar subsidy death spiral: $2 billion in Australia, rising 50% pa as electricity prices rocket

A few Australians are just beginning to realize that they are paying for their neighbour’s solar panel. As news spreads, the shine of good-citizen-solar is going to tarnish fast, but it is going to take a concerted campaign to spread the word.

In one corner are 2 million households which have solar PV and thought they paid for it themselves. In the other corner are 7.5 million households which have exorbitant electricity bills. And in every corner and all across the spectrum is mass confusion thanks to the mass media. The fog of advertisements disguised as “news” means if you ask a dumb-enough-question 70% of Australians will say they want the government to set a high RET target to make electricity cheaper. It’s almost like 2 out of 3 people think we need the government to force us to buy cheap stuff, because everyone would buy the “expensive” planet killing volts if we only had the choice. Doh.

That’s $200 per household (and the rest!) added to the electricity bill in 2019

This is just the direct SRES (Small Renewable Energy Scheme) cost. It doesn’t cover the burden of stabilizing the grid, of covering the cost of baseload power [...]

Report on Aug 25 blackouts shows how fragile our grid is (and the real cost of cheap solar panels).

 When cheap solar is expensive Badly installed solar PV makes Australia’s grid fragile

On August 25 last year there was nearly a system blackout when, improbably, three states of Australia were islanded by one lightning strike. Within seconds, trips were switching, two smelters were load shed to save the grid from collapse, and across the Eastern Seaboard of Australia frequency and voltages surged or fell everywhere. In Sydney 45,000 homes lost power for a couple of hours. Shops had to close. Trains were stopped. Passengers were stranded. Traffic signals were not working on major roads. There was chaos. Industrial users shut down in a mass of 725MW of load shedding.

The AEMO final report on that day has just come out and shows us just how fragile our grid is. This was not so much a freak accident, as an accident waiting to happen.

It turns out that another cost of cheap rushed solar panels is that many drop out with voltage spikes, suddenly going offline and leaving another hole to fill. The numbers are amazing — of panels installed in the last 2 years as many as one-third in South Australia dropped out when we needed them and about 1 [...]

Fireman warns solar powered batteries may cause ferocious fires

Channel Seven News.

Unintended consequences: When your insurance to stop the planet burning burns down your house instead.

Storing all that energy in a small box at home. What could possibly go wrong?

Fire crews are warning that solar powered batteries may cause fires that move fast and burn with “ferocity”.

Solar home battery warning after Brisbane house fire

Brisbane Times, Toby Crockford

The homeowner told reporters they had solar panels connected to lithium-ion batteries and suspected the fire started nearby, a view shared by firefighter Malcolm Muscat.

“[There were] approximately three battery banks so lithium-ion, lead-acid batteries, they burn with a ferocity that moves through the house quickly,” Mr Muscat said.

Remember: When the future of the planet is at stake, there’s no such thing as too much insurance.

We just hope the owners had plenty.

Friends and family can be consoled that the house has been sacrificed for a good fashionable cause.

Note this is the “suspected” cause in this fire, but solar panels have been linked to many other house fires.

Does your home need a “fire bunker”? ‘Years to understand’ fire risk of solar power systems

From July 12th, [...]

New Report: Renewables indirectly make electricity MORE expensive, so ABC tells Australia the opposite

One big government agency quietly admits renewables make electricity more expensive, and another big gov media agency hides it.

The new AMEC report tells us renewables will make electricity prices go down a tiny 2% in the short run but make electricity more expensive in the long run due to forcing out cheap baseload players. What matters most to Australians — that we can expect our electricity costs to be 2% less than “obscene” for the next couple of years, or that the artificial transition we are forcing on the grid will indirectly make electricity more expensive?

Which message does the ABC headline? Say hello to Trivia!

Renewables set to drive down power prices, new AEMC analysis shows The ABC is essentially a taxpayer funded advertising machine for the renewables industry.

A flood of new renewable energy projects is likely to drive down household electricity bills, according to new analysis by government policy adviser the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).

On a national basis, household bills are set to fall by 2.1 per cent — but price falls in the eastern states and South Australia are offset by increases in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and [...]