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Did a short sharp Geomagnetic storm contribute to the Callide Coal plant explosion?

Ben Davidson speaks from Spaceweathernews.com and claims that there was a short sharp geomagnetic storm over the East Coast of Australia around the time the Queensland Callide Power plant exploded.

The CME that flew past Earth didn’t do much around the world,  causing a small 1% deviation in magnetometers. But there was a burst of activity in the Southern Hemisphere that appears to have hit the east coast of Australia. Magnetometers there saw a 300 – 500% change* between noon and 3pm on the same day as the Callide Coal Power Plant blew up. The explosion happened at 1.44pm and the 275 kV transmission lines tripped at 2:06pm.

*(UPDATE: There is some contention in comments about the Australian DST figures — we’re they really that high or unusual? I’ll update the post when I can confirm it either way).

We don’t know if this tipped something over the edge at Callide, but the timing is highly coincidental. If Earth’s magnetic field is weakening it would seem urgent, to say the least, to understand the risks these spaceweather events pose to our critical infrastructure.

Perhaps an engineer who knows the design of (hydrogen cooled) supercritical coal reactors might be able to explain if or how a geomagnetic storm might contribute to an explosion, or even if that is possible?

h/t To Cardimona, Peter C, and Rafe at Catalaxy.

Australia, Estimated DST Index, Bureau of Meteorology.

Australia, Estimated AusDst-index, Bureau of Meteorology.  “The Dst-index was derived to quantify the decrease in the geomagnetic field H-component observed during the main phase of magnetic storms produced mainly by the equatorial current system in the magnetosphere referred to as the ring current.”

Davidson mentions a paper by Wang that suggests that geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) pose a risk to power stations and grids. At the moment things are quite active over Australia and New Zealand.

Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid EMAG2v3

Geomagnetic map of the world showing activity over Australia and New Zealand.

From the NOAA page on EMAG2

EMAG2 is compiled from satelliteship, and airborne magnetic measurements. Magnetic anomalies result from geologic features enhancing or depressing the local magnetic field. These maps increase knowledge of subsurface structure and composition of the Earth’s crust.”

Ben Davidson  talks about Australia from 35 seconds to 1:45

If anyone has a spare copy of  The Weathermans Guide to the Sun I’d love to read it. I would especially appreciate a print copy if anyone would like to donate one? Please email me joanne At this domain, or message in comments. Thank you! (They’re $65).

UPDATE: Consensus is “probably not”

One of the better summaries was sent in an email. Thanks to Greg:

Did a solar flare blowup the Callide power station? In short, no. The evidence is too localised and the latitude is too low.

It is true that the vertical component of a rapidly changing magnetic field can induce strong currents to cycle around electric power network loops. Normally the loops in a power grid are closed by a transformer, which only lets through the intended 50 Hz or 60 Hz. Lower frequencies have higher resistances, so if a sufficiently high voltage of low-frequency has been induced, an unprotected transformer overheats and may explode.

Solar eruptions send out vortices of plasma containing strong magnetic fields. When they happen to hit Earth’s magnetic field, the disturbances are most likely to reach the ground in polar regions where the earth’s magnetic field is most vertical. Thus they are far more threat to Canada’s power supply than Australia’s. In 1968 I was processing the hour-by-hour geomagnetic records from stations in Australia and Antarctica – and only saw significant magnetic storms in Antarctica.

I suspect that all transformers would be supplied with a low-frequency bypass to protect them. Power lines themselves routinely have lightning jumps in them. We see them on cable supports on occasional power poles, a pair of metal points separated by a gap of several centimetres. Although these may be sufficient to short out lightning strikes, they couldn’t completely drain an induced power surge, because the soil under the power poles is suffering the same induction.

The most powerful solar flares recorded to hit Earth was the so-called Carrington Event of 1859, which burnt out many telegraph readers worldwide. Doomsayers predict that the next time we are hit by a flare of that magnitude, the world’s power grids will all fail, leaving us in the cold and darkness until replacement transformers are built and installed. But heck, now what would they know that grid designers don’t?

REFERENCES

The Bureau of Meteorology Geomagnetic page: https://www.sws.bom.gov.au/Geophysical/7/1

AusDst-index

Wang et al (2021) Effect of Earth’s lateral conductivity variations on geomagnetically induced currents in power grids.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijepes.2021.107148

8.7 out of 10 based on 35 ratings

105 comments to Did a short sharp Geomagnetic storm contribute to the Callide Coal plant explosion?

  • #
    Analitik

    Coincidence

    50

    • #
      Earl

      Which, as Albert Einstein noted is “God’s way of staying anonymous”. Maybe He wants his planet back.

      50

    • #
      NigelW

      Nope. Once is chance, TWICE is coincidence…Three times (is enemy action) in this situation would be flashing neon “LOOK HERE”

      20

      • #
        Analitik

        What other generator had a mechanical failure during the CME?

        50

        • #

          Good question. Rather than seeing it as an effect on one generator, perhaps it was more an effect on the whole grid subsection around Callide? In the timing sequence, Callide C had a fire which tripped both units C and D. But it’s D that will supposedly need the long long downtime for repairs, which seems odd, not C. And it was not until about 20 minutes later that the largest voltage drop occurred with the loss of the 275kV lines. That’s assuming that Watt Clarity has an accurate timetable and the C and D units are not swapped accidentally. Their frequency graph is here — and they say there were really three events that day. Something shook the frequency a bit 11 minutes earlier before the explosion.

          If there was an effect it was presumably a last straw” adding to a problem that was already there. Would unusual frequency harmonics (Like Hydro-Québec power grid, 1989?) push a grid system to the point where a leaky seal, or stressed point would break? Perhaps the problem was going to happen in the next few months anyhow. Perhaps at most, the reason the timing of the geomag event coincided, was just that it was brought forward?

          https://spaceweatherarchive.com/2021/03/12/the-great-quebec-blackout/
          “Unusual frequencies (harmonics) began to flow through the lines, transformers overheated and circuit breakers tripped.

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    • #
      Tilba Tilba

      Indeed … no-one has yet explained why or how a little “geomagnetic storm” could possibly have ignited a little explosion at Callide.

      I’m the first to admit I don’t have the requisite physics or chemistry knowledge to explain things one way or another, but those claiming the connection have the onus on them to demonstrate their case.

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      • #
        sophocles

        Raving posted an excellent bunch of slides from the NOAA about `little geomagnetic storms’ and the US grid.

        You should read them, research them, paying specific and particular attention to the earth-loop currents.
        (slide 7 onwards)

        When you have educated yourself with those, then go to
        https://www.history.com/news/a-perfect-solar-superstorm-the-1859-carrington-event

        Pay particular attention to the electrified air. Then pray you don’t get to experience a ‘little geomagnetic storm’ quite that closely.

        Earth’s magnetic field is weakening rapidly and what should have been a truly ‘little geomagnetic storm’ may be another Carrington Event in it’s effects and that could all happen over the next years. Maybe.

        What’s the cure? Go to Wikipedia and look up (further educate yourself) Derinkuyu. Note: Derinkuyu may be much older than alleged.

        There’s nothing new under the sun.

        Consider the effects of your `little geomagnetic storms’ are so remote because, so far, our magnetic field is still strong enough to keep them at the top of the atmosphere. More or less. But some damage does leak through. Go back to Raving’s slides and follow the earth loop currents again.

        10

  • #
    John Hultquist

    At about that time I got a call from Trump wanting money to complete a wall. Maybe he is not calling to Australia.

    44

  • #
    bill

    only dopes deny ben. everyday more science confirms or fails to put into disrepute his,, and many other real science folks, observations on history and current harmonic cycles of weather on earth driven by interaction with sun and space. Take the 30 day challenge, listens to scientific papers and their conclusion form published and about to be published papers in scientific journals from all over the world. You can also check in on skyscholar.com for the most up to date astrophysics on the planet. Or stick you head in the sand and be so surprised as the sun, currently effecting all our planets in the solar system, drives our pole shift (notch and south headed to the bay of Bengal) and our crashing magnetic field strength. if you don’t know this you should

    Carrington Event
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (Redirected from Solar storm of 1859)
    Jump to navigationJump to search

    Sunspots of September 1, 1859, as sketched by Richard Carrington. A and B mark the initial positions of an intensely bright event, which moved over the course of five minutes to C and D before disappearing.
    The Carrington Event[1] was a powerful geomagnetic storm on September 1–2, 1859, during solar cycle 10 (1855–1867). A solar coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetosphere and induced the largest geomagnetic storm on record. The associated “white light flare” in the solar photosphere was observed and recorded by British astronomers Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson. The storm caused strong auroral displays and wrought havoc with telegraph systems. The now-standard unique IAU identifier for this flare is SOL1859-09-01.

    A solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would cause widespread electrical disruptions, blackouts, and damage due to extended outages of the electrical grid.[2][3] The solar storm of 2012 was of similar magnitude, but it passed Earth’s orbit without striking the planet, missing by nine days.[4]

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    • #

      only dopes deny ben.

      If you don’t know this you should, Ben Davidson was 100% wrong about this [snip, with respect, I know the other person you mentioned and I’m not aware he said anything on this? – Jo]

      Geomagnetic activity was quiet for several days prior to the time of the explosion, when Bz was positive, Kp was 1, and Kyoto Dst was 4.

      https://i.postimg.cc/pLHccdR3/Bz-Dst-Kp-25-May2021.png

      Perhaps an engineer … might be able to explain if or how a geomagnetic storm might contribute to an explosion, or even if that is possible?

      I am an electrical engineer specializing in sun-climate mechanisms. The answer is the whole story was completely made-up.

      There was no geomagnetic storm in the first place here, whether it is possible or not for a storm to cause such an event. This story was a false report by Ben Davidson because neither the ACE nor DSCVR magnetometers recorded a 300-500% spike then, and the Dst is not a magnetometer per se, it is a model based on magnetometer solar wind data, and there are several models. The BOM’s Dst model increased for the time period to levels around 20 which is not out of the ordinary whatsoever, and if Ben Davidson was a competent solar wind researcher he should’ve known that basic fact, and then cross-checked with other data to realize there was’t an actual geomagnetic storm.

      Further, why now, why didn’t it explode under previously more stressful geomagnetic conditions any time earlier this year? You and [snip] spent how much time fact-checking what Ben claimed? Who are the dopes now!?

      Get accurate real-time geomagnetic and solar activity data updated here every 5-minutes:

      https://electricweather.com/images/electricweather.jpg

      20

      • #

        Bob, we appreciate the extra detail, thanks. We don’t need to set off any flame wars. We’re just asking questions. And I know the other person you mentioned, and am not aware he said anything on this.

        Can you explain why the DST would have appeared to look like it was 300-500% stronger if it was only “around 20”. I searched for the DST data and the only page I found was not exactly user friendly. https://www.sws.bom.gov.au/Geophysical/7/1#Dstmap.

        Is Davidson mistaken in the long term average reading for the Australian DST? I’m only interested in getting to the bottom of this and clarifying or correcting the post.

        Clearly if there was a geomag storm over Eastern Australia it was a localized event, so it wouldn’t have widespread effects. And there was the obvious assumption that if the DST was unusually high it might have some effect that was more than past events. Can anyone provide a link to all the data?

        All help and clear explanations gratefully received.

        21

        • #

          Time corrected linkhttps://i.postimg.cc/Sxn5zPQx/Bz-Dst-Kp-25-May2021.png – it was quiet at the time of the explosion.

          To your question. Dst can be positive, negative, or neutral (at/near zero), whether the model is from Australia or Kyoto.

          In whatever model, Dst floats near zero under quiet geomagnetic conditions. When positive protons (P>10MeV) build up, Dst rises into the positive.

          Such proton and Dst increases occur regularly preceding geomagnetic storms, after which Bz and Dst will go negative during the storm phase.

          There was larger Dst rise on the 26th before the ACE magnetometer indicated commencement of geomagnetism around 1600UTC, when Dst went negative.

          I don’t know why the Australian model is different, but the difference between Kyoto’s Dst=6 and Australia’s Dst=20 is fairly minor, a difference just as minor as between Dst=-6 and Dst=-20. Neither positive values represent a geomagnetic storm. There was a storm spike in the solar wind on May 26 around 1700UTC, about 37 hours after the explosion and the acclaimed ~Dst=20 ‘spike’.

          http://wdc.kugi.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dst_realtime/202105/index.html

          Ben Davidson mis-attributed and exaggerated something unrelated.

          [Thanks Bob. This is useful. Really appreciate details and input. Not to worry about DA here since I snipped your original comment, but your reply regarding that is noted and appreciated. – Jo]

          20

          • #

            Moderator you can delete/omit that comment if you wish, thanx.

            00

          • #

            OK. so a spike 37 hours later is irrelevant. I note Kyoto gets to -61 on the DST for all of May (on May 15ht). Is that considered a high number for DST? A significant number?

            And of course, if this is a small localized geomag storm in Australia, how far away are our magnetometers from the Callide plant? Davidson points to a dot, I think on the Bz graph in his video which “punched” in the Southern Hemisphere. Is it possible there was a short sharp serious Geomag event, and do we have enough tools to measure that to spot it?

            Sorry about the delay in replying. Other commitments today.

            I guess we’d have to ask Ben why the Australian DST model is so different?

            11

            • #

              Is that [-61nT] considered a high number for DST? A significant number?

              It is just into the moderate severity range of -50nT to -100nT I set for my app image color-coding for Dst, which is set to low @-30, moderate @-50, strong @-100, [email protected], and extreme @-350 nT. On May 12, Dst reached -61 in the real-time data. Note the real-time data updates through the hour, and the final value for the hour can be different or adjusted soon after. Then the data is revised and becomes ‘provisional’, then again becoming ‘final’ data, which undoubtedly will have some differences with the original real-time data. I say this because the real-time Dst value of -54nT shown in the following image was obtained from Kyoto for May 12 at 14:20UT, is not the value listed on the data page for 1400 or 1500UT. The following image was made during the strongest geomagnetic storm of the solar cycle thus far, a G3-class storm.

              https://i.postimg.cc/Vst8wM8h/electricweather.jpg

              Kyoto Dst is derived using magnetometer data from four stations. The idea of a strong localized storm over Australia needs support from local magnetic field data, particularly the horizontal H component. The AUS_DST plot in the post was positive for at least 8 hours, so while it looks like storm commencement, no local geomagnetic storm occurred by definition during that time.

              From NOAA: “Storms also result in intense currents in the magnetosphere, changes in the radiation belts, and changes in the ionosphere, including heating the ionosphere and upper atmosphere region called the thermosphere. In space, a ring of westward current around Earth produces magnetic disturbances on the ground. A measure of this current, the disturbance storm time (Dst) index, has been used historically to characterize the size of a geomagnetic storm.” – http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/phenomena/geomagnetic-storms

              From Wikipedia: “The disturbance storm time (Dst, Kyoto Dst) index is a measure in the context of space weather. It gives information about the strength of the ring current around Earth caused by solar protons and electrons.[1]
              The ring current around Earth produces a magnetic field that is directly opposite Earth’s magnetic field, i.e. if the difference between solar electrons and protons gets higher, then Earth’s magnetic field becomes weaker.
              A negative Dst value means that Earth’s magnetic field is weakened. This is particularly the case during solar storms.”

              From NOAA: “Dst (Disturbance Storm Time) equivalent equatorial magnetic disturbance indices are derived from hourly scalings of low-latitude horizontal magnetic variation. They show the effect of the globally symmetrical westward flowing high altitude equatorial ring current, which causes the “main phase” depression worldwide in the H-component field during large magnetic storms.”

              From Kyoto: – “The onset of a magnetic storm is often characterized by a global sudden increase in H, which is referred to as the storm sudden commencement and denoted by ssc.” wdc.kugi.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dstdir/dst2/onDstindex.html

              If you look at Kyoto Dst for May 10 it a peak of +34nT that also looks like storm commencement, but then it dropped to merely -9nT, definitely not a geomagnetic storm, a minor bump comparable to the +20nT change for Australia on May 25.

              Lastly, in order to make the speculation made here more credible at all, finding prior similar occurrences to justify the claim would help. What power plants blew up during the worse storms for example, any?

              https://www.aer.com/siteassets/dst_storm_2004_11z.png

              10

        • #

          In addition to P>10MeV, the proton density of the solar wind from ACE and DSCVR can herald the arrival of of positive Dst and then geomagnetic storms.

          https://i.postimg.cc/6phkKZQd/ACE-RTSW-Est-MAG-and-SWEPAM-at-time-of-explosion.png

          We see at the time of the explosion:

          1. A Flat-lined magnetic field (1st panel)

          2. Low proton density (3rd panel)

          3. Flat & low solar wind speed (4th panel)

          Therefore no geomagnetic storm existed at explosion time, or immediately before, or soon after, for over 1.5 days.

          20

        • #

          Clearly if there was a geomag storm over Eastern Australia it was a localized event, so it wouldn’t have widespread effects.

          The sun’s sub-solar point was northwest of the explosion, and as I showed there was no geomagnetic storm, but even so, when have there ever been localized geomagnetic events that weren’t detected anywhere else?

          https://www.timeanddate.com/scripts/sunmap.php?iso=20210525T0344

          00

        • #

          Since I don’t know if my other 2 comments will be posted, it’s ok if not, here’s a correction to my original link: replace “pLHccdR3” with “Sxn5zPQx” into my first link for the right time-corrected image.

          To your question: Dst can be positive, negative, or neutral (at/near zero), whether the model is from Australia or Kyoto.

          In whatever model, Dst floats near zero under quiet geomagnetic conditions. When positively-charged protons (P>10MeV) or high proton density builds up, Dst rises into the positive.

          Such proton and Dst increases occur regularly preceding geomagnetic storms, after which Bz and Dst will go negative during the storm phase.

          Looking at the new link we see at the time of the explosion:

          1. A Flat-lined magnetic field (1st panel)

          2. Low proton density (3rd panel)

          3. Flat & low solar wind speed (4th panel)

          Therefore it was geomagnetically quiet at explosion time, with no geomagnetic storm immediately before, or for over 1.5 days.

          data: wdc.kugi.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dst_realtime/202105/index.html

          11

      • #
        bill

        ben did not say it was a specific event the caused this incident for complete surety. I also did not say that either. The truth stands the electromagnetic field is failing and the poles are headed to the bay of Bangal. No one knows for sure excursion or reversal but its’s happening now. If you are an electrician i think you would be happy to do five minutes a days just for intellectual curiosity sake. I have a few degrees (none in prose) myself and find it stimulating to investigate others ideas especially when predictive nature rears it fickle head. Or you can go on to do the 10000 plus investigation into dark matter and come up with great bagels as ben said in my today or yesterday. If you don’t know about the Sky Scholar Channel, you are missing a treat or, believe the fact checkers, and go with the twilight zone. Everyday new revelations form new tech in space is uncovering an amazing reality that has not been predicted by the vast majority of degreed Fellowes like myself.

        best link to all date is to follow ben for a month as he reveals the data sets and new points of reference, from new observational equipment everyday. He is quite amazing reviewing dozens of published papers everyday and gives highlights. The field of knowledge is changing so fast unless you have lots of spare time you would find it difficult to keep up.

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        • #

          bill, who is right, you or the article?

          The post says: “Ben Davidson speaks from Spaceweathernews.com and claims that there was a short sharp geomagnetic storm over the East Coast of Australia around the time the Queensland Callide Power plant exploded.”

          I met Dr. Pierre-Marie Robitaille at the EU2014 meeting, he gave me a hug after I botched my presentation! Ben Davidson gave a great talk there, but he is no scientist. I can’t stomach listening to his many misinterpretations so I don’t watch his videos.

          Personally I try to rely exclusively on data to form my ideas, not other people’s papers or videos, although others’ papers are a necessity for research.

          00

    • #
      sophocles

      The Carrington Event (1859) is considered to be the start of the present North and South Magnetic pole migrations. It’s been over the last Decade, those poles have really had their skates on — and the Earth’s Magnetic Field has done a lot of decaying,

      The North Magnetic Pole has passed the Geological pole (rotational axis) and is moving at over 50 kph as it heads across the Arctic Ocean towards Siberia. ‘

      The South Magnetic Pole has left Antarctica and is aiming to head up past the west coast of Australia on its way north. Jo will be able to wave good-bye to is as it does that.

      The Planetary Magnetic Field is now somewhere between 85% and 80% of what it has been. The only way at the moment is down.
      Watch the Cosmic Ray strength. As the field decays, it will continue to rise. We haven’t reached PCR — Peak Cosmic Rays —yet.

      As Cosmic Rays increase, so will cloud cover (Svensmark Effect). Clouds cool the planet. Guess what?

      30

      • #
        sophocles

        Oops. That North Pole velocity I think I got wrong, so don’t take it as gospel.
        It might be more like 50k/day/week/month. I’ll have to double check it.

        Sorry about that, everyone.

        00

  • #
    Raving

    Power grids fail for many reasons. Here in Ontario, Canada I have livec through some major failures lasting in the order of a week.

    So a turbine blew for whatevervreason. That happens. Geomagnetic storms have been bad in the past and will get worse in the future . Engineers are good at diguring out what went wrong and adjusting tobimprove

    A key feature or the Callide failure is that it exposes the meagerness of base generation capacity.

    Its similar to the orgins of covid question. Fun to specuate whethere it was an accidental/deliberate leak from the labs or fromthe wet market or from somewhere else. Reality is that it could be all those things and what is important is that such things happen in reality in general, in the main. The importantt thing is dealing with the consequences when it does occur.

    25

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      That makes no sense ….

      If a space weather event affects base load, it will also nuke bird shredders…

      I suspect you could run a coal power station fully manually if you had to, but wind turbines…unlikely.

      70

      • #
        Raving

        Power grids fail because they cannot isolate local (or global) spikes or drops in voltage. Be it blowing switchs, transformers, power generation or power demand. The local failure travels throughout the grid tripping everything and blowing transformers as it goes.

        One real possibilty for grid failure is wind becalment lasting over days. Diesel, LP or coal power generators are the inly way to fill such occasional and extended dips in power production. There is no getting rid of oil gas or coal fired power plant without nuclear or hydroelectric replacement

        Think about it for a moment. Are you really going to blow up a residual coal plant and suffer some days of country wide black every year or few.

        Even at a rarity there will be moments where oil/coal/LP base power generation are essential

        10

        • #
          Saighdear

          like in the UK this past whole WEEK: whatever supplied the power, there was VERY LITTLE WIND – for an ENTIRE WEEK. https://gridwatch.co.uk shows wind supplied around 1% daily, Solar ???? !! to work the AirCon maybe? THen to get enough windpower this week we would be needing 100 Times more than we have, windmills. what a joke they are. I am drowning in Re-chargeable batteries waiting for the wind to get up.

          10

          • #
            Raving

            Take courage. There are 18 days until the summer solstice. Maybe not peak AirCon weather yet

            00

    • #
      Analitik

      Fun to speculate

      Yes, it’s the same as people blaming wind variations as the cause of the wind farms going offline back in the 2016 South Australian blackout when the cause was almost certainly (proven to be absolutely certain in the investigation) due to the frequency drop caused by some transmission towers collapsing.

      32

      • #
        Geoff Sherrington

        Analitik,
        There is an AEMO final report that the electricity supply failed at the wind farm source before the towers came down. It is important to the analysis. Geoff S
        https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-28/wind-farm-settings-to-blame-for-sa-blackout-aemo-says/8389920

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        • #
          Analitik

          No, the AEMO report shows the wind farms that initially tripped did so with a frequency drop that they should have copied with. Increasing the tolerance was part of the resolution of their role in the blackout

          The article you linked actually states this

          The damage to these three transmission lines caused them to trip, and a sequence of faults in quick succession resulted in six voltage dips on the SA grid over a two-minute period at about 4:16pm.

          As the number of faults on the transmission network grew, nine wind farms in the mid-north of SA exhibited a sustained reduction in power as a protection feature activated.

          00

          • #
            Chris Morris

            Go to the third/ final report on the AEMO site.
            “On Wednesday 28 September 2016, tornadoes with wind speeds in the range of 190–260 km/h occurred in areas of South Australia.1F
            2 Two tornadoes almost simultaneously damaged a single circuit
            275 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and a double circuit 275 kV transmission line, some 170 km apart.
            The damage to these three transmission lines caused them to trip2F 3, and a sequence of faults in quick
            succession resulted in six voltage dips on the SA grid over a two-minute period at around 4.16 pm.
            As the number of faults on the transmission network grew, nine wind farms in the mid-north of SA
            exhibited a sustained reduction in power as a protection feature activated. For eight of these wind
            farms, the protection settings of their wind turbines allowed them to withstand a pre-set number of
            voltage dips within a two-minute period. Activation of this protection feature resulted in a significant
            sustained power reduction for these wind farms. A sustained generation reduction of 456 megawatts
            (MW) occurred over a period of less than seven seconds.
            The reduction in wind farm output caused a significant increase in imported power flowing through the
            Heywood Interconnector. Approximately 700 milliseconds (ms) after the reduction of output from the
            last of the wind farms, the flow on the Victoria–SA Heywood Interconnector reached such a level that it
            activated a special protection scheme that tripped the interconnector offline.
            The SA power system then became separated (“islanded”) from the rest of the NEM. Without any
            substantial load shedding following the system separation, the remaining generation was much less
            than the connected load and unable to maintain the islanded system frequency. As a result, all supply
            to the SA region was lost at 4.18 pm (the Black System).3F
            4 AEMO’s analysis shows that following
            system separation, frequency collapse and the consequent Black System was inevitable.”

            It was the windfarms dropping out that caused the blackout. The lines that dropped pulling the pylons down were after the system was black.

            The ABC don’t know what they are talking about.

            10

            • #
              Saighdear

              Briefly, that’s what happens when you get too much wind.
              …. and.. I never knew, nor heard, that TOrnadoes were part of Australian weather. Yes indeed, if ANY Hydrocarbons had similar stability issues, they would never have been used as a reliable fuel. Pity the windy proponents don’t live in an area of unreliable reaal atmospheric wind. Those Ivory Towers…. Only wind they see is of their own making.

              10

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              Analitik

              What part of transmission lines tripping is the the wind farms falling over?

              The power lines tripped causing a frequency drop that the wind farms were supposed to have been able to ride through but some had overly conservative settings and tripped causing a bigger frequency drop that tripped the other wind farms leading to the Heywood Interconnector tripping, hence blacking out the state.

              But the power lines tripping were due to damage to the lines whether by pylon collapses or the lines themselves failing. Still not the wind farms directly causing the blackout.

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                Chris Morris

                Analitik You comments show that you have not even bothered to read the AEMO report which lays out the time line exactly. The windfarms tripped because they exceeded the low voltage ride through setting as the lines tripped on phase to phase faults and auto-reclosed. Two of the Davenport lines tripped out and stayed out – One was the Mt Locke line which was north of the windfarms, so irrelevant to the main grid load. Two of the Davenport lines stayed in. Davenport Brinkworth line down occurred after system black. AEMO stated that their calculations were that even with those lines out of service, the grid would have held if the windfarms had not tripped off. Read 3.5.1
                There was NOT a frequency excursion during the tripping and reclosing. There were only dips in the grid voltage. The windfarms protection took them of the grid, the frequency started to drop a bit. The load on the Heywoods line increased, overloaded it and then, it tripped. That caused the big frequency drop. The RoCoF was too great because there was not enough inertia on the grid so the UFLS relays couldn’t work and then the system went black. Read 3.1 and look at Figures 4, 5 and 6. Then come back with sensible comments.

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        Raving

        Fun to speculate…

        Yes except the bread and butter of grids is to keep the power flowing Blowing transformers switchs and collapsing transmission towers as happens here frequently during ice storms is at the heart of grid engineering wherein the grid is supposed to be robust.

        Problems of generation and demand are peripheral and speculative relative to the crux of managing the grid

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    Ronin

    You would have to look at the line voltage and frequency trends to see if there’s any correlation.

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      Raving

      “Effects of Space Weather on the US Power Grid”

      https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/images/u33/finalBoulderPresentation042611%20%281%29.pdf

      Leave it to the engineers to deal with the problem. It is a known issue which extends far beyond a single turbine at Callide

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        Failure of renewables is a known problem too. Engineers can’t always solve what the political class doesn’t realize is even an issue.

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          Saighdear

          YOu are so right / true, Jo! our Oma Merkel’s attitude : VWe can make it happen. …. aye and now they’re bickering about the cost of it all: pity I don’t fully understand what the heck they’re talking about: aand asfor or Bori’ huh, I think he and his lot are on the woopee stuff. Dream the impossible .. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJlgio-UOng

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      Br0adie

      Yes, let us look. What was first the chicken or the egg?

      A sudden drop in transmission in a statewide grid would create a change in magnetic fields.

      All I know is someone older and wiser who works in the installation of grid connected power told me they really do not know what will happen as the voltage in the grid increases with roof top solar.

      A linesman told me the day after this failure, those with battery back-up are pretty chuffed with themselves. I doubt they will be when it catches fire and burns their house down because a rat chewed through a DC cable.

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      Deano

      My knowledge of electrical engineering is basic but…a changing magnetic flux fast and strong enough to blow power station fuses, wiring etc would surely also cause similar damage to nearby electrical installations? And most of them would only be capable of handling far less induced current and so would burn out for sure.
      I wonder what damage to nearby equipment was done?

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      Klem

      Yup, the end is nigh, Gordo.

      “Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!”
      – Dr. Peter Venkman

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    Chris Morris

    What happened at Callide was a turbine (NOT generator) failure. They lost a Last Stage Blade on the turbine and it punched a hole out through the casing. The fire was almost certainly the bearing oil lines ruptured by the debris. The “explosion” would have been the boiler safety valve going off.
    Read Watt Clarity for all the notices.

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      Chris can you expand on that? I thought the turbines were part of the generator? Aren’t they the 300t objects spinning at 3600 3000 RPM?*
      UPDATE: In this graphic the part called a “generator” is attached to the turbine. I’m probably using the term generator to refer to the whole larger unit. https://www.uky.edu/KGS/coal/coal-for-elec.php

      *Duh. Texas effect or something. Sorry.

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        Hanrahan

        Jo, the turbine Chris speaks of are part of the jet engine driving the 300t objects spinning at 3600 RPM if that’s how much an armature in an alternator weighs. The gas turbines installed decades ago had Rolls Royce RB211 jet motors, the same as fitted to Boeing 747s.

        But I have asked for a link to the special knowledge Chris has. IF he is correct then I have been in error blaming the workforce so I have more than a passing interest.

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        Ronin

        Turbine… as in a steam turbine this case at Callide, the turbine blades are huge in the last stage as the casing pressure is low here, on the way to a vacuum in the surface condenser.
        In OZ the units rotate at 3000 rpm to give the line frequency of 50HZ.

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          Hanrahan

          Jeez! I had a brain fade. Somehow all the talk of gas turbine has fixated me.

          I can’t believe I made those two posts.

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        Chris Morris

        Here is the link
        https://wattclarity.com.au/articles/2021/05/25may-part9-abcarticle-longoutage-callidec4/
        It is a steam turbine that drives the generator at 3000rpm.
        Even though the all are considered a unit, and called turbine generators or even generators, turbines are the drivers or prime movers and the generator converts the rotational energy to electricity.
        There no indication that it tripped, oversped and the blade failed. The blade seems to have failed while at full load.
        And from all accounts, there was no hydrogen explosion. I discuss why over at Tony from Oz’s blog.

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          Analitik

          People often refer to the turbine/generator generation unit as a “generator” hence the confusion in the discussion of the Callide failure. The hydrogen explosion in the generator was a secondary effect of the turbine failure but if you consider them as a single unit, then it was a “generator” failure. Engineers knew what happened all along

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          Aloha!
          This problem is going global when it comes to coal fired plants as everyone thinks that coal and nat gas will be replaced by renewables soon so why bother spending money to do repairs or replace the turbines. I see that here in the USA too. Coal especially is looked upon as a “failed energy source”, but the government’s highly political incentives drive that! That is why we had issues here in Texas in Feb and March.

          I am currently in a partnership with Orion Renewable Energy LLC on a solar farm project nearby an older coal fired plant. The engineers at Orion even say that the utilities tend to cut corners on coal plant maintenance as they shut down turbines one by one. This is because governments, all, Fed, State and local are de-incentivizing coal by incentivizing solar and wind more. That means its political! The key factor is that solar and wind are not yet commodities like all fossil fuels are, so the price of solar and wind offer stability to utilities. Hence a utility can buy 30 years of solar and wind power without ever worrying about huge price volatility. Still I remember right before Enron went bankrupt they were trading in weather futures. Anything can be traded!

          If you quit or skip maintenance on any mechanical equipment it will sooner or later fail. There is such a thing as “metal fatigue”. You see it taken as a serious issue in the airline industry. If your government pays huge incentives to convert to brand new shiny wind and solar then why maintain the coal plant at optimal levels? Utilities like all industry “cut corners”!

          I think the USA and Australia have made huge mistakes thinking you can just shut down a coal plant and replace it with a solar farm and expect no power outages. Most of the world still is dependent on oil, coal and nat gas. Why would Germany care about that Russian pipeline if they have plenty of safe and reliable renewables.

          To visualize what I am saying go to the link below. It shows energy consumption based on energy sources. It covers the period 1969 to 2018. In 2018 renewables accounted for about 13.8%. Of that hydro power was 6.7% and nuclear was 4.6% leaving wind at 1.3% and solar at 0.4%! The non-renewables in 2018 accounted for 86.2% of global energy. The biggest sources of energy in 2018 were still oil, coal and nat gas. Even geothermal and biomass is more widely used than solar.

          LINK: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/energy-consumption-by-source-and-country-1969-2018/

          Visual capitalist is a great source for anything capitalist!

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            Broadie

            Say Aloha to Zucks and Chan for us.

            Well thought out posting. I just add the obvious downstream effects. What if you had invested in massive lathes, extruders, canning plants etc. Where would you located these factories? In Australia, Europe, the US when you are having to buy expensive power stabilizers and filters plus back up just to produce your widgets and the Chinese and Indians do not!

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          Chris, I would not rely on anything the ABC says. They do not have any registered engineers. They are biased with politics and group think. Their journalists are hopeless and believe anything that fits with their thinking ie CO2 is bad, coal is horrible, so-called renewals are good.
          A generator is a device that converts motive power (mechanical energy) into electrical power for use in an external circuit. (an electrical motor is of a similar design and some small motors can be used as generators) A generator can be driven by a water, steam or gas turbines, a diesel or petrol motor, or a wind driven gearbox (the term wind turbine is false). Note Flemings right hand rule where the thumb is vertical and shows the direction of the mechanical force of the current conductor (copper wire), the first finger at right angle (horizontal) shows the direction of the magnetic field, and the middle finger at right angle to the first finger and also horizontal shows the direction of the electrical current (in the copper wire)
          Turbine blades can and have been damaged but in is rare for the casing to be damaged. Here is a wiki article on the cooling https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen-cooled_turbo_generator.
          The question is -did the damage to the turbine damage the shroud of the generator where the hydrogen is or was there leakage of hydrogen which was around where the turbine casings was penetrated.

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            Chris Morris

            Though I criticised the ABC up link, I believe what they have in direct quotes without ellipsis is actually what the company spokesman said. It ties in with all the other info.
            As I actually work as a CPEng turbine engineer for a generating company with Toshiba turbines that likely have identical LSBs, I do know how a generator works and what can and can’t be done. I have also a number of reports and photos of blades coming through casings.

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        Chris Morris

        The photo clearly shows it wasn’t a generator fire and almost certainly a LSB failure as initiator. The operators’ description matches.
        https://wattclarity.com.au/articles/2021/06/25may-good-information-inside-afr-callidec4/

        That is the turbine rotor shaft and coupling flange they have the safety tape round. That means almost certain they will need a new generator rotor as well as LP turbine rotor. You can’t buy them off the shelf. All bespoke long lead time components.

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      NigelW

      Watt Clarity has no notice regards what actually caused the turbine failure. Do you have a source for the overspeed/blade failure suggestion?

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        Analitik

        It doesn’t take an overspeed event for a turbine blade to fail. They are heavily stressed and face load cycling so any slight manufacturing fault will eventually result in failure. Usually, a crack is detected before failure during maintenance downtime – the intervals are specified on this sort of statistical allowance – but it’s not a certainty.

        It is possible that greater load cycling due to covering for renewable intermittency has hastened the crack propagation so it developed and failed before the inspection period that was allowed for in design.

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    don

    Thanks to Chris for finally outlining the event. Makes sense to me finally. The generator hydrogen presumably leaked out when the casing seals failed, mixed with air and ignited by sparks caused by metal on metal grinding as a consequence of the tubine failure.

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    Geoff Croker

    Tripped out, steam valve failure, turbine rpm increase to blade failure, hole punched in outer casing by blade, H2 explosion

    or

    some other order of above.

    Its 50 Hz, not 60.

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      Ronin

      Geoff, are you saying the generator tripped offline thus letting the turbine overspeed due to failure of the trip throttle valve, then the overspeed caused the blade(s) to part company from the shaft, rupturing the last stage casing, fire ensuing from damaged lube oil piping.

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        Geoff Croker

        Yes. Blade failure at operating maximum rpm is unlikely. Take the load off and watch that rpm rise to extreme if steam not diverted.

        Why did it trip? That is the question.

        Unit 3 was recently swapped. What was the maintenance status of Unit 4? Was that due but delayed?

        I note Callide was used to test oxyfiring and CO2 capture at 35MW. Most of the goods supplied ex-Melbourne.

        Good engineers there, so this is a budget problem. No doubt Qguv will claim success as turbine failure caused by Morrison budget.

        Maybe Unit 4 needed maintenance but as 3 came before 4 Qguv energy committee did 3 first?

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          Ronin

          Thanks Geoff

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          Chris Morris

          No Geoff, blade failure at full load is most of the time it occurs. Very rare to have overspeeds nowadays as most simulate them to test protection. Most protection will drop ESVs straight away, the open circuit breaker with CB not occurring until it gets signal ESVs are shut.
          Invariably failure is high cycle fatigue. That can be initiated by a variety of causes. The rotor for this unit was replaced in
          a major upgrade 2017 and most units are on 4 or 5 year survey.

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            Geoff Croker

            Load cycling will cause fatigue. It may lead to a failure at full load but more likely the unit was at a low load and the load was increasing when the failure occurred.

            What caused the trip will be revealing.

            Repair time? Best guess 12 months.

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              Chris Morris

              LSBs are prone to flutter on the trailing edge, particularly at full load. Then you get a crack at the transition from aerofoil to rootblock.
              The graph on watt clarity indicates full load and had be for some time.
              If they need a new rotor shaft, at least 12 months wait for the forging to be done.

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      Chad

      What is the source of the information regards the turbine blade failure ?…
      And likewise how do we know it was the result of an overspeed of the turbine/generator ?
      Or are we just speculating ?
      I would suggest that the turbine would have to go a LOT overspeed for a tensile failure of a blade .
      Note .. 3000 rpm is very slow for a turbine..many run at 10 times that speed !

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        Hanrahan

        What is the source of the information regards the turbine blade failure ?…

        I’ve asked that a couple of times. Maybe I’ve missed the reply.

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        Deano

        “Note .. 3000 rpm is very slow for a turbine..many run at 10 times that speed !” – It would depend a lot on the diameter of the turbine in question. Car turbocharger turbines can easily exceed 100,000 RPM but they’re only a few inches diameter.

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        oeman50

        All turbines in Australia connected to the power grid will run at 3000rpm or lower. They have to do this to maintain the 50 Hz grid frequency.

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          Chad

          Yes , these steam turbines are designed to run at a specific rpm to suit the generators,..
          …. but turbine design generally ( Gas turbines, Aero engines etc, etc) go well beyond 3000 rpm.
          The big Turbofan Aero engines (2+ mts dia) rotate at 4000rpm and others at 10,000+ rpm.
          Smaller dia turbines run much higher rpms.

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        Ronin

        3000 rpm sounds slow but these are huge units, large diameter rotors, way way bigger than an aero derivative turbine.

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          Chris Morris

          The tip speed of the LSBs are greater than the speed of sound in steam, which is higher than what it is in air.

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    Yeah! I knew I would find it.

    This is a video of the overhaul done in 2019.

    This is an overhaul of the C3 Unit at Callide C, and the problem was with Unit 4, the same SuperCritical Unit as this Unit 3.

    The action is speeded up to shorten the Video, but I’ll try and explain, and you’ll probably need to watch it a few times. and the ‘action’ starts at the 17 second mark. Watch closely.

    The first angle is taken from the Right side. The Generator is inside the orange ‘thing’ to the right of that LP turbine, (as you see it here) and it also has an orange cover. The first removal is the Low Pressure turbine orange cover.

    Then the video switches to the left side, and you see the casing being lifted off and then the Low Pressure turbine itself being lifted out. As you watch the LP turbine being lifted, the High Pressure turbine is to the right of that.

    Then, at the 33 second mark, it’s back to the Unit. They replace the new LP turbine, and note the shape of the whole thing. The largest blades are on the outside, and note the driveshaft. That’s an 18 inch solid stainless steel shaft.

    Then, at the 35 second mark, , and now back to the video from the right side, they refit the new HP turbine, with much much smaller blades.

    Then, the casings and the covers go back on and those huge pipes at the top are the steam pipes to the turbines.

    This all rotates at 3000RPM.

    Evidently, one of those long blades on the LP turbine ‘let go’, umm, through the casing and the cover.

    And umm, lots more than that.

    Link to video of 1.20.

    Enjoy.

    Tony.

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      Cardimona

      Tony – love your work, man.

      Can we be certain that the recently refurbished steam turbine threw a blade and caused this mechanical failure? Or could the CME have interacted with the electrical fields surrounding the generator to set up an arc on part of the cooling system’s hydrogen generator that had suffered some H2 embrittlement – and that caused the explosion which then caused the turbine to throw blades?

      I ask because imagine the effects of a similar CME on a H2-fuelled transport fleet – especially after the fleet has aged and/or been suboptimally maintained….

      (Yes, that is an alarmist strategy – but Alinsky’s rules rule, OK! and all is fair in undeclared cultural wars.)

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      Chris Morris

      Tony – the shaft isn’t stainless steel on the LPs. Usually ASTM A470, probably Class 8 or the JIS equivalent. That is a high tensile steel, Carbon about 0.4%, Chrome content about 1.5% with a bit of moly and a few other metals in there.
      In the Toshiba design, the LSBs are usually held onto the rotor by 6 pins through the fingers of the blade roots. Pins are about 16mm diameter and 300mm long. They are freestanding but have locking mechanisms at the tips to limit the twist of the blade tips.
      You will see from the video that there are two casings on the LP turbine. The inner one is significantly thicker than the outer (painted one). Only the LSBs are visible at the exposed ends of the inner casing. Two failure mechanisms. Most likely is a high cycle fatigue failure on one of the LSBs (they are very high stress at the base of the aerofoil and actually the aerofoil twists in operation from the torque load) and the broken off bit flew back and out the outer casing. It would have to fracture low down to have enough kinetic energy to come through the casing. The other scenario is something upstream came adrift and jammed into the last row causing blades to break off. Once a blade came off, the out of balance forces would rapidly shake everything around it, rupturing many components.

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      Note the date of this Overhaul, and LP and HP turbine replacement.

      2019.

      This Plant is owned (well half owned anyway) by CS Energy, a wholly State Government owned entity.

      This work was done to, umm, extend the life of this ….. coal fired power plant.

      You know, by a Government planning for 50% renewables by 2030.

      These images are from Unit Three, and the Unit which had the umm, incident was Unit 4.

      Tony.

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      Good work Tony, It seems that the Turbines (LP & HP) are some distance from the generator. There must be some doubt about a hydrogen explosion.

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    Peter C

    h/t To Cardimona, Peter C, and Rafe at Catalaxy.

    Thanks Jo,
    However I have to plead ignorance about this one. It came as a complete surprise to me to learn that H2 is used as a cooling gas in electrical generators. It is one of the many things I have learned by reading you blog and the comments.

    I hope someone can shed more light on this incident.

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      Cardimona

      Peter C – I am also a Peter C, which may be the cause of some confusion.
      I’ll message Jo and get it sorted.

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      oeman50

      Hydrogen is used to cool the generator because of its thermal efficiency and it heats less than any other gas when the magnetic currents from the rotor passes through it (called “windage”). It is kept at a high purity to prevent explosions. When the purity is over 75% (vs. 25% of AIR, not oxygen), then hydrogen will not explode even if an ignition source occurs. Since the hydrogen system is designed to be exposed to the magnetic fields used to generate hundreds of megawatts, I can’t see how a geomagnetic storm could do anything by itself.

      BTW, the fact the boiler is supercritical has no bearing on the operation of the generator. Any turbine, be it subcritical, supercritical, gas, whatever, is simply a source of torque for the generator.

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    OriginalSteve

    So is a space storm equivalent to a weak EMP event?

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    OriginalSteve

    Woohoo…more gas?

    Bring it on….

    https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/it-s-a-gas-gas-gas-how-aussie-richlisters-plan-to-unlock-a-fracking-fortune-in-the-nt-20210527-p57vmy.html
    Empire’s assets in the Beetaloo and McArthur basins are where Origin Energy and Santos also have interests. According to the federal government, the Beetaloo, which lies 600km south of Darwin, has the “potential to rival the world’s biggest and best gas resources”​. It also has the potential to be one of the country’s most contentious energy developments, just as the federal government pushes ahead with its controversial plan to build a $600 million gas plant in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley.

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      Klem

      Australia is completely awash in beautiful, poverty-destroying, prosperity-creating, fossil fuels.

      And the Left will fight it tooth-and-nail.

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        OriginalSteve

        Because the left wing are against :

        – beautiful, poverty-destroying, prosperity-creating, fossil fuels.

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    I protest, that I see no report of which came first, the CME pass-by or the power plant explosion.

    Everybody needs to get their _____ together, if they want to think effectively.

    I know that sounds mean, but for god’s sake, which came first, and why isn’t it, not merely reported, but emphasized as of primary importance to any further comments?

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    Roger

    a) I’m a retired mechanical engineer, who often did specialized consulting work in power plants in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most of southeast Asia, but not concerned directly with day to day operation or safety/maintenance planning. I’m not familiar with Callide station and am not qualified to speak of details nor inclined to speculate but I can offer a few facts to help filter the news and other speculation.
    b) From the media reports I have seen it is not clear whether there was an actual explosion and whether or not there was a hydrogen explosion. Media reports, in my long experience, are NEVER correct where any technical matters at all are concerned.
    c) One of your respondents did mention that one of the LP turbine blades had detached from the LP rotor and penetrated the LP casing. If this is correct, then a few comments to set the scene and context follow.
    d) The LP blades are the longest and heaviest in the turbine assembly. The LP casing is quite thin since it operates at less than atmospheric pressure normally, so this scenario is possible, though I think very rare.
    e) The turbine generator arrangement for standard steam turbine sets of similar size (300-600 MW) usually consist of an HP turbine section, and IP section (sometimes combined HP/LP) and an LP turbine (often two LP’s) directly driving the hydrogen cooled generator. Each turbine casing has its own bearings, and the units are rigidly coupled together between each casing, often for a 100 feet or so.
    f) The generator rotor is very heavy (40-80 tonnes) and runs with quite close clearances inside the relatively long stator casing. Hydrogen is circulated through the casing-rotor interstices to cool it. Using hydrogen improves the heat transfer efficiency and greatly reduces windage losses over say, using air. The generator is equipped with oil bath, face type seals at each end, which are quite reliable. If the turbine halls are high and broad and well ventilated (ie; no snow in Queensland, hooray!) then any small hydrogen leaks dissipate quite quickly and safety issues are easily managed I think.
    g) If an LP blade did come off (they might be a metre or so long, and steel) then the vibrations would have jumped off scale and the unit would have tripped, which can be very noisy with breakers opening, possibly air rushing into the LP case and condenser, high capacity metal blending occurring and probably HP steam venting. These are physically large machines, and the LP casing exhausts are insulated so I can imagine noise, swirling fog and dust and turbine hall floors covered with sheet metal cladding and insulation blocks, even if the blade didn’t cause any projectile damage. If the blade didn’t penetrate the casing, then a good shovel would be needed to clean up the LP case.
    h) Finally, WTH is a “hydrogen cooled supercritical coal reactor”? And at the same week the US news is feverish with UFO stories… I’m guessing the “supercritical” refers to supercritical steam which simply means that the steam is heated past the critical point. At the critical point, the saturated vapour line and the saturated liquid line of the material phase diagram meet.
    i) Cluey turbine engineers don’t exist in large numbers. Until the OEM field reps get a good look and offer up explanations which are seconded by Callide discipline engineers (probably months and millions), then there isn’t much point in speculating. Especially if a broken blade was just a result and not a proximate cause…

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      Thanks Roger, the detail is useful.

      There was no deep meaning in the “hydrogen cooled supercritical” label. You are right that it’s just a more modern class of coal plant using supercritical water. And the hydrogen cooled label was just my shorthand way of letting some readers know that the hydrogen gas is used to cool these reactors. Some people were very unsure why there would ever be a hydrogen explosion at a coal plant.

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      Yonniestone.

      Interesting about the hydrogen, I know from welding that excessive hydrogen can cause embrittlement in welds or metals with sufficient heat causing cracking or failure of both, I am impressed with the engineering that’s gone into these plants and would love to work on or observe a maintenance shut down on one of these units.

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    Lance

    In 1979, I was at the Dow Chemical plant in Freeport Texas shortly after a turbine blade failed under full load.
    (Dow generates their own power for the chloride and magnesium units using their own natural gas fields for fuel. Dow can power the residential load of Houston TX from their own generators.)

    It blew a hole the size of a telephone call booth in the side of the turbine case. It also bent the central shaft, some 45 cm in diameter after the turbine became unbalanced. One blade did that.

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    Lance

    As to speculation that an EMP from a magnetic storm might also cause an explosion, see the “Carrington Event” on 1 Sept, 1859.

    https://spaceweatherarchive.com/2020/08/30/a-warning-from-history-the-carrington-event-was-not-unique/

    The Carrington Event was a massive EMP from a coronal mass ejection from the Sun. The EMP imposed a huge overvoltage condition on telegraph lines and set many telegraph stations on fire. The telegraph lines acted as antennae as would modern day electrical transmission lines. The voltage spike burned up wires, telegraph stations, and electrocuted people.

    https://www.history.com/news/a-perfect-solar-superstorm-the-1859-carrington-event

    Another geomagnetic event happened in March 1989, and it knocked out power in Quebec Canada for hours to days. 6 Million people lost grid power.

    https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-would-happen-if-solar-storm-wiped-out-technology-geomagnetic-carrington-event-coronal-mass-ejection

    If a Carrington size event happened today, the damage would be on the order of 20 Trillion USD and the follow on effects could be near un recoverable, such as bank accounts lost and their backup data. Scary stuff.

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    • #

      So the question for me then, is that we know this was not a Big geomag storm, but could there have been an isolated pocket of intense field strengths? Is 300% very unusual on the Aust-DST scale?

      ie — Could a little storm have pockets of big effects?

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        Lance

        The DST index quantifies the geomagnetic field H-component. A value of DST-Index < -200 nT indicates a Severe magnetic storm. The Carrington Event was around -900 nT, some 450% higher than DST indicates as Severe.

        An EMP is in the GHz range and short duration. A CME induced geomagnetic storm induced voltage would be experienced largely as a DC voltage of long duration compared to an EMP. The charged particle storm from a CME travels much more slowly than light or EMP. We would have some warning of arrival, perhaps several hours. Effects would depend on Earth position in orbit (perihelion vs aphelion) intensity, size and duration of the CME, whether your area is facing toward or away from the particle storm, length of transmission line conductors, hardening or grounding of systems, etc. By the time a particle storm reaches Earth, it could simply pass by, brush by some edge of the globe, or hit it smack dead center. I'm not sure I'd characterize the particle storm as having pockets, but rather a fairly uniform intensity by the time it arrives. If such a warning came about, I'd power down and disconnect everything possible from the mains.

        Here's a decent article from Anthony Watt's site, 2012, that might be helpful.

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/14/homeland-security-takes-on-the-carrington-event/

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        Cardimona

        ie — Could a little storm have pockets of big effects?

        Exactly, Jo.
        Climastrologists dismiss the effectiveness of tropical thunderstorms in channelling surface heat to the tropopause and above because they’re too small to show up in the pixels of their models – yet here in the tropics we routinely experience small thunderstorms stripping 10 to 15 degrees C from the surface.
        This CME could be similar – channelling energy along a relatively narrow route, avoiding widely-scattered detection equipment, and in this case it may have interacted with the H2 generator or its pipework.

        Does anyone know if the generator halls include CCTV?
        If it can be determined that a CME sparked an initial failure related to the H2 generator then that is a powerful argument against the wrongologists “hydrogen economy.”

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        Is 300% very unusual on the Aust-DST scale?

        Dst percentage changes shouldn’t be used, just the values. The Kyoto Dst plot is scaled 16% above zero and 84% below zero, 100nT to -500nT.

        What is the base value when a 300-400% increase of the value equals 20nT? The answer: 4-5nT.

        What is a 15-16nT change (20nT minus 4 or 5) as a portion of the whole Dst range?

        15nT is only 3% of the minimum Dst, -500nT, and 2.5% of the whole range, so calling a 15nT change a ‘300-400%’ increase is not very meaningful.

        Likewise we don’t say ‘the sunspot number is now xyz% higher than the solar minimum’ (when the average may be 0-2 spots/month), because the actual sunspot numbers are more meaningful than the percentage change from nearly zero (or other number).

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    Lance

    In 1859, telegraph lines didn’t have overvoltage protection, lightning protection, and so forth. We do now.

    That being said, long transmission lines could be adversely affected by a large geomagnetic event, most likely at the substation levels. Hardening those nodes affected by a geomagnetic event isn’t cost prohibitive and ought to be entertained seriously.

    I’m disinclined to think a CME particle storm is beyond handling. It just takes the decision to handle it. If not, things get nasty, quickly.

    An EMP is an entirely different event. Let’s hope we don’t have to endure that one.

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    Bernie

    This CME conjecture is all nonsense with respect to the Callide C turbine failure. The most a CME event could cause is to trip the plant due to electrical disturbances in the grid. The trip happened after the turbine failure not before. Unit trips happen many times over a year throughout Australia and they never cause the turbine to throw off blades like this. It was a mechanical failure that had severe consequences for the C4 unit at Callide.

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    Chad

    Bernie
    May 30, 2021 at 1:23 pm · Unit trips happen many times over a year throughout Australia and they never cause the turbine to throw off blades like this. It was a mechanical failure that had severe consequences for the C4 unit at Callide.

    Has it been confirmed that this was infact a turbine blade failure ?

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    CHRIS

    I’m waiting for the Earth’s magnetic Poles to flip…shouldn’t be too long now…then sit back and watch the fun

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