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Queensland’s Near Miss: hydrogen may have exploded at a coal plant (and renewables don’t save the day)

Tuesday was a wild day for Queensland Electricity. An explosion struck the Callide C Power Plant triggering a cascade of other plants to switch off within seconds. The massive 2.5GW fall in supply took the grid frequency in Brisbane to a hair raising 49.55Hz. How close did it come to falling over? Half a million people lost power for a couple of hours but a Statewide blackout was averted. Luckily no one was hurt.

Meanwhile the people in power were not saying “Hydrogen”, or “explosion” but the Supercritical Units at Callide are cooled with hydrogen, and there was an explosion. The owner CS Energy called it just “a fire”. But in other news reports people in the nearest town said it was “the loudest explosion they have ever heard”.

Hydrogen, it seems, is used in some coal plants as a coolant, but Holy Hindenberg, it is known to explode. (See Ohio in 2007, Pittsburg in 2017 and India, 2019) . A Union official said it appeared the hydrogen filled generator of the main turbine had suffered a catastrophic failure. And it’s all exquisitely awkward,  as David Archibald points out, happening while a two day Hydrogen Conference is on — as we speak — to sell us a half billion dollar “investment” in hydrogen hubs in the hope they might change the weather. The last thing the new Hydrogen-hopeful-industry needs is for the nation to be reminded of how explosive the first element of the periodic table is. It’s not too good for Scott Morrison either, who is selling the “hydrogen economy” to taxpayers.

Perhaps we should ask the Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and… Hydrogen?

In terms of the shaken Queensland electricity grid, TonyfromOz tells us gas power came in to save the day and carry the load. Other coal plants returned. The renewables though, were not much help. Hydro power was missing in action for a few hours until prices peaked at $14,500/MWh. Probably the delay was because the Wivenhoe dam was only 41% full, near its lowest level in a decade, and water is not-so-renewable at the start of the dry season in Queensland. Predictably, other intermittent power was also not there when we needed it. Wind power was doing not much in the lead up to the big bang, and nothing at all in the key minutes after. Solar production fell slightly after the explosion, then trailed off to nothing as solar does at that time of day.

h/t To David Archibald, TonyfromOz, plus Analitik, Ronin, Hanrahan, Dave.

CORRECTED:  “Bagasse” changed to “Coal seam methane”. So many flavours of fossil fuels saved the day.

 

Queensland, Electricity generation, fossil fuels, May 25 2021, graph. Solar Wind power.

The shock that hit Queensland on May 25th around 2pm.        Source: Anero.id

The Callide Power plant was first commissioned in 1965. It has 8 units that make 1.7GW of power. At the time of the explosion the Queensland grid was running at nearly 8GW.

TonyFromOz has a long post on PaPundits: 

…sadly, while this was almost a catastrophe, not one of the renewable power sources contributed in any way to the recovery. But, hey, that didn’t stop the Premier, and her Ministers saying later in the evening and today that renewable power helped to keep the power on. In fact, the opposite was the case. When the power failed, then those renewables also failed as well, and none of the renewables assisted in the recovery. All the heavy lifting was done by natural gas fired plants, the dreaded fossil fuelled power plants, and they did not get a single mention from any of those politicians.

This was one of the largest power failures in the State for more than 45 years. The fact that it was not worse than what it could have been is testament to how those engineers are looking after the grid, trying their hardest to keep the power on. All of this resulted from a catastrophic accident, and the resultant blackout, while huge in nature could have been much much worse.

Why hydrogen?

Most of the newer generators use Hydrogen as a coolant inside the generator, as the low density, high specific heat and high thermal conductivity of hydrogen gas enables the highest efficiency for generators. …. As an example, if any of you wish to check, here is a link to a 61 page pdf document from the GE Company who manufacture these large scale generators. (see page 48)

To stop Hydrogen leaking it needs to be very pure and sealed so that air doesn’t get into the chamber, and hydrogen doesn’t get out.

Wind, not there when you need it

Then, as the wind fell away, wind generation in the State dropped from a total of 530MW at 7AM to a low of 88MW just before the large loss of power and the resultant blackout.

Then, and say, who would have thought, when the power failed, then so did both of those wind plants, at the same time, and they were off line for the next three hours. But really, 88MW of power was never going to help when almost 2800MW of power was lost. This is just another of those numerous occasions where wind generation fails to deliver when its needed.

Here’s a handy Engineer Training lesson on how to use Hydrogen to cool generators.

 

9.4 out of 10 based on 79 ratings

147 comments to Queensland’s Near Miss: hydrogen may have exploded at a coal plant (and renewables don’t save the day)

  • #

    Here in the UK, as gas boilers are phased out for new builds by 2025 , we are supposed to be getting hydrogen ready boilers by that date.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Mind you with the mauling Cummings delivered to boris and his woke green girlfriend today, whether boris will be around to promote his girlfriends mad energy schemes is another matter.

    400

    • #
      Saighdear

      and Stop stop stop! I know, …Gas boilers.. isn’t Hydrogen a gas? It’s this stupid thing about “carbon” when it is the oxide they mean. But I just can’t wait for the first major H2 explosion. Don’t we have enough with piped gas, with bottled gas? Common denominator: Gas+fools, – or bad luck? Stupid sick Theresa to sign us up for this and the spineless party to continue. Get the Skates ready, I’m sure that’ll be a super Eco mode of transport for a Green Blobby couple

      150

    • #
      Dennis

      Hindenburg, German dirigible, the largest rigid airship ever constructed. In 1937 it caught fire and was destroyed; 36 people died in the disaster.

      50

  • #
    Penguinite

    And the naysayers are worried about Nuclear even though, in the explosive stakes it’s safer than hydrogen!

    280

    • #
      Ted O'Brien.

      Science never got a look in when Australia’s politicians banned nuclear power.

      The opposition was whipped up by the communists among us for the purpose of hindering western nations in the Cold War nuclear arms race.

      Note that in our “democracy”, the communists were successful.

      370

      • #
        PeterS

        That’s largely true but we can’t also ignore the fear that was indoctrinated onto the public about nuclear safety. I for one would much prefer to live near a nuclear plant than a wind farm.

        290

        • #
          Michael Spencer

          And you’ve identified the big problem with nuclear energy and its ban in Australia: That wonderful combination of IGNORANCE and FEAR. The formula is: IGNORANCE + FEAR = STUPIDITY.

          I’ve assembled this little introduction in the hope that it might start to counteract that formula – especially among our Youth: http://www.galileomovement.com.au/media/SaveThePlanetStart.pdf.

          100

          • #
            Hugh

            Great presentations, Michael. Thanks. I’ll pass them around.

            The only caveat I have is this. IMO, CO2 is not something to be minimized, via nuclear, wind, solar or whatever. We need to beef it up! CO2 is a staff of life on our planet, and just before the industrial revolution, we coasted dangerously close to the minimum whereby plant life starts to shut down (about 180 ppm) which obviously would have had disastrous consequences for all life. We’re still at a perilous and historical low, even at 400 ppm. The great greening of the planet over the past 50 years or so is due to the higher concentration of CO2.

            So my hope (as a fair dinkum actual “greenie”) is that with nuclear power given its rightful place, we’ll be able thereby to cheaply manufacture gazillions of tonnes of CO2 and thus create a healthy atmospheric concentration. Of course, our untapped reserves of coal can assist in the interim. But coal mining is dangerous for the miners, e.t.c, so one has to balance the costs and benefits. Modern nuclear energy, no such problems by a long shot.

            I’m sure you’re across all this, but just thought I’d make the point. Cheers.

            120

            • #
              Michael Spencer

              Thanks for the compliment Hugh!

              My intention here is to (sneakily) get under the guard of ‘climate change’ believers by offering them the good news of a ‘solution’ to their non-problem of ‘carbon [sic] emissions’. And this is intended especially for our propagandised Youth to see that perhaps there is some good news after all.

              You will find that at the bottom of each page of the PDFs there are links to a most comprehensive interactive PowerPoint (242 slides + overlays, 1,000+ Internet links, and including two ‘Contents’ slides), as well as three interactive PDFs. (Strangely enough you might find one or two – or perhaps more! – links to Jo’s blog postings!)

              So, what I’m trying to do here is the very opposite of ‘socialism by stealth’‘education by stealth’! (Very sneaky, I know!)

              80

  • #

    Perhaps the other tony who wrote this excellent article can tell us whether hydrogen boilers and it’s associated pipeline infrastructure are ever likely to be feasible in domestic houses?

    Perhaps he might also tell us the feasibility of getting green hydrogen from renewables is. Sounds very unlikely and highly expensive to me. Does it have any sort of primary application to generate energy in commerciali power station applications?

    190

    • #
      Richard Owen No.3

      Nothing to it. You use more energy to produce hydrogen than it delivers.
      You would need to dig up and relay all the pipelines as the old ones only deliver less* or you need to increase the delivery pressure – which isn’t a good idea given the leaking behaviour of hydrogen.
      All cast iron pipes, valves etc. would have to be replaced as hydrogen goes through the metal.
      Then you would need to develop and install millions of leak detectors to prevent colourless, odourless hydrogen building up to its lower explosive level (which is very low) and demolishing the house once it gets a spark e.g. static.

      And then the easy bit; get the consumer happy to pay more. Currently hydrogen is about twice the cost of natural gas (per Kg.) but if you use the preferred GREEN production method of intermittent hydrolysis from “CHEAP” renewables then it would be around 14 times.

      *a standard natural gas pipe delivers 2.6 times the energy per volume than does hydrogen.

      420

    • #
      Ian

      Tonyb you write
      “whether hydrogen boilers and it’s associated pipeline infrastructure are ever likely to be feasible in domestic houses?”

      I doubt if that possibility will ever arise as solar panels and battery storage will probably be the major power supply for domestic houses

      021

  • #
    Lance

    What everyone ought to know about Hydrogen, but obviously does not.

    The Future of the Hydrogen Economy: Bright or Bleak?

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232983331_The_Future_of_the_Hydrogen_Economy_Bright_or_Bleak

    The Pure Evil of Hydrogen Hyping

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/09/24/the-pure-evil-of-hydrogen-hyping/

    Energy And The Hydrogen Economy

    https://afdc.energy.gov/files/pdfs/hyd_economy_bossel_eliasson.pdf

    120

  • #
    Robber

    The other thing that saved Qld was stopping 600 MW of power going to NSW, covered in NSW with a quick increase in hydro.

    110

    • #
      PeterS

      That’s the real benefit of having the interconnects – short term emergency backstops. As for the longer term, if Qld couldn’t get back to normal and NSW would suffer blackouts instead then I would hope they would say to Qld “you are the weakest link. Goodbye!”

      51

      • #
        Hanrahan

        if Qld couldn’t get back to normal and NSW would suffer blackouts instead then I would hope they would say to Qld “you are the weakest link. Goodbye!”

        Ya kiddin me! NSW almost never meets its own demand, pulls up to a GW from Qld, sometimes more. When the fertiliser hit the cooling device they were MIA making up shortfall.

        Mind you I don’t mind a rebate on my power bills for profit from these sales.

        60

    • #
      Richard Owen No.3

      If only Qld. had installed lots of renewables and blown up some older coal-fired stations, they could have beaten South Australia’s blackout record of 3 days to restart (and in some places up to 5 & a half days).

      180

    • #
      Analitik

      The other thing that saved Qld was stopping 600 MW of power going to NSW, covered in NSW with a quick increase in hydro.

      Along with very quick action by the grid operators to shed load in the South Eastern portion of the grid by blacking out some suburban areas. Otherwise, the Brisbane demand would have caused all the other northern generators to trip and blacked out the entire state. That was the critical lesson learnt from the 2016 South Australia blackout (the undependability of renewables was the lesson that wasn’t learnt).

      100

    • #
      Saighdear

      For those who would like to know and / or understand better, how grids generally function, take a look at this and comment accordingly ! Power system Operation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dl5XxE6jeQ It is laid out fairly clearly
      In the UK, this now +Last month, @ https://gridwatch.co.uk one can see how little Energy was produced by Wind. Nobody anywhere ( yet) is making noise to have more Solar Panels for the obvious reason of limited sunlight. However, Wind can be available day & Night . Nowall this talk about enlarging the wind fleet: you have to choke! for around 5/8ths of the month, there was next to NO wind generation: how is one to fulfill that order. Increasing Windgeneration MAY have worked on the days that the wind blew ….. and when the puff has run out?
      For those wworking Plant in extreme cold conditionsKNOW that you cannot just crank up the engine and expect max. output there and then. Purely / simply machinery does NOT respond well to Cold startups to max power and then expect to give long trouble-free service life. … and if you want to keep the machinery warm …… you’ll need even more backup …. a wee birdie is whispering something about DIMINISHING RETURNS.

      30

  • #
    Robber

    From that third reference: “The analysis reveals that much more energy is needed to operate a hydrogen economy than is consumed in today’s energy economy. In fact, depending on the chosen route the input of electrical energy to make, package, transport, store and transfer hydrogen may easily double the hydrogen energy delivered to the end user.”

    120

    • #
      Lance

      Further on in that paragraph, it says ” But precious energy can be saved by packaging hydrogen chemically in a synthetic liquid hydrocarbon like methanol or dimethylether DME.”

      In other words, they are dissolving the H2 into a hydrocarbon carrier co-solvent in order to increase the delivered energy. The authors of the paper are trying to show the lower and upper limits of using H2. They “wish” it worked out well, but it doesn’t. They are being honest. But they flesh out the various possible paths and track the energy for each path.

      See table on P 27, last row. See conclusions. Ammonia synthesis is the most efficient way of storing H2.

      80

      • #
        Lance

        Sorry. SynFuel production of methanol or DME to increase supplied energy in a convenient form. My bad.

        The Fischer-Tropsch synfuel process is hugely inefficient from an energy standpoint. You only do it if there’s no petroleum products laying about. Adolph H. and Jimmy Carter found this out the hard way.

        the point is the authors tried every reasonably possible path to find ways to use H2. The end result is that Ammonia is the most efficient product that H2 can be used for.

        101

  • #
    Lance

    A synopsis of the highlights of the papers cited at #4 above:

    H2 has 1/3 the energy of Natural Gas on a Volumetric Basis. Greens try to shift the conversation to Mass basis, by which H2 is certainly a superior energy storage device, but that only happens at – 247.17 C. Thus, one must refrigerate the H2 to keep it at -247.17 C or below, or store it under pressure as a gas.

    Economic storage pressures, depending on tank geometry, range from 300 Bar to 700 Bar.

    On balance, making, storing, transporting, and using, H2 takes between 1.65 and 2.12 times the amount of energy contained in the H2. So, it is a net energy sink. Kind of defeats the purpose of efficiency if you need input 65% to 200% more energy than the product contains.

    Save the links at #4 and get educated on Hydrogen so that your Political and Uni “Betters” don’t steal you blind and bankrupt your Country.

    171

  • #
    Ian1946

    The hydrogen economy reminds me of the goons episode where Neddy Seegoon invented a machine that did the work of 4 men but it took 6 men to operate it.

    450

  • #
    Raving

    “”Queensland government responds to failure at coal-fired Callide power station by turning to battery power”
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-27/qld-renewable-energy-coal-fired-callide-power-station/100166152

    A wonderful exercise in bluesky thinking which I agree with wholeheartedly. No its really so! Good on them,

    Nevertheless 2 things stand out…

    Quoting: “As coal-fired power stations close and units in coal-fired power stations close permanently or get mothballed … they will need to be replaced,” Mr Taylor said.

    “We need to be certain when that replacement happens that we can keep the lights on 24/7 and keep prices down.” End quote.

    There is no doubt that reliable base power, be it static or dynamic is appreciated and respected. All the renewable planning doesn’t detract from the current critical need for coal fired generation

    The other thing that surprises me is the $120 million wandoan project:

    Quoting “The battery will have the capacity to power up to 57,000 homes every year, and store 150mWh of energy, so it’s around 25 times the capacity of the largest battery currently operating in Queensland.” End quote

    Maybe I have it all wrong but the new Ford F150 lightning ER version which costs $53,000 CDN has a 155kwh battery.

    https://insideevs.com/news/508674/battery-capacity-ford-f150-lightning/

    That means that the 150mWh battery can be replaced with a fleet of 1,000 trucks at a cost of less than $50 million given commercial discount pricing

    Ford only claims to power 3,00 homes with those 1,000 trucks, Am not sure about that discrepency here

    120

  • #
    Kalm Keith

    Captured the story with “Holy Hindenburg”.

    Another aspect of this piece of modern engineering dreamtime futurism is available to us in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Free hydrogen is present at NTP at 0.6 ppm and it is recognised as a trace gas.

    Given that there’s a lot of hydrogen in the world tied up, for example, in water, ice and plant and animal life, perhaps nature is telling us something?

    It would seem obvious that the low H2 content of the air implies rather pointedly that hydrogen just loves to combine with anything suitable near it.

    Maybe you could use it to launch space craft by having tanks of H2 and O2 and feeding them to a combustion chamber to create thrust.

    Well that’s the obvious.

    Apparently there was a lot of thrust up in Queensland recently.

    Thankfully no mention of deaths or injuries among the plant operators.

    KK

    210

    • #
      another ian

      As Willis E put it

      “The problem with hydrogen is that it is pre-burnt. You can’t just open up a hydrogen mine”

      70

  • #
    David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz

    Morning all
    You’ll pleased to know that the Queensland Government is on top of this problem, and have announced the solution.
    The zealots are going to solve a real problem with the wrong solution, and lies.

    ” The battery will have the capacity to power up to 57,000 homes every year, and store 150mWh of energy, so it’s around 25 times the capacity of the largest battery currently operating in Queensland.” ”

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-27/qld-renewable-energy-coal-fired-callide-power-station/100166152

    Cheers
    Dave B

    90

    • #
      David Maddison

      I know you are serious David, otherwise I would think that was a joke.

      60

      • #
        David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz

        just for clarification: My serious bit is in the second sentence.
        Cheers
        Dave B

        40

    • #
      Raving

      Saying that renewables saved the day is like saying renewables powered the emergency lighting in the hallway

      151

      • #
        David Maddison

        And those emergency exit lights are only legally required to stay on for 90 minutes.

        It would be a rare time when ruinables plants could produce uninterrupted, continuous, non-fluctuating power for that long.

        120

    • #
      Ronin

      Most of us didn’t know we even had a battery in GLD.

      70

  • #
    David Maddison

    Windmills and solar shouldn’t even be counted as part of the power grid. They are a drain, not an addition.

    That leaves Australia with a critical deficiency of proper power stations like coal, gas and real hydro (not the BS Snowy Hydro 2 which at best is only a battery and will only return 60% of the energy put in to “charge” it).

    Of course, nuclear is out of the question because Australia doesn’t regard itself as advanced enough or mature to use it and is scared of it, plus we are ruled by morons and associated Marxist pressure groups.

    We don’t have enough power stations and frankly, we have no hope.

    We have descended from one of the most energy rich countries in the world with some of the cheapest electricity to one with some of the most expensive electricity and inadequate real power stations.

    We have some of the largest uranium reserves but don’t use them ourselves. Exploration for oil and gas is banned in the most promising areas. State governments are committed to destroying (not even mothballing) as many power stations as possible. We export massive amounts of coal to others, including the Chicomms, to make cheap electricity and steel with but don’t do so ourselves. In Vicdanistan we even cancelled a large export order of brown coal to India because Dan Andrews had the chutzpah to say that the Indians should not be allowed to burn our coal in order to save the planet.

    Meanwhile we embark on obscene projects (apart from windmills and solar subsidy farms) like turning brown coal into hydrogen (by partial oxidation of coal under pressure to generate CO2 and H2) to export but then keeping the CO2 by product from the synthesis here.

    It is insane. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

    270

    • #
      Michael Spencer

      And you’ve identified the big problem with nuclear energy and its ban in Australia: That wonderful combination of IGNORANCE and FEAR. The formula is: IGNORANCE + FEAR = STUPIDITY.

      I’ve assembled this little introduction in the hope that it might start to counteract that formula – especially among our Youth: http://www.galileomovement.com.au/media/SaveThePlanetStart.pdf.

      40

      • #
        Kalm Keith

        There’s a lot to look at there.

        The core reason for our present electricity dilemma is Human Greed.

        The “manufacture”, distribution and “payments for” have all been complexified beyond comprehension for one purpose only: control of the users.

        The control of these factors enables the Elites and Governments to prosper in a way that would have seen them gaoled not so many years ago.

        It’s beyond belief that every Australian household is forking out a $444 “donation” annually in tarriffs that are basically the result of an illegal business activity run on the side by government.

        While ever this arrangement continues we cannot consider ourselves to be a free nation.

        KK

        30

    • #
      Richard Owen No.3

      From Rowjay May 23

      from Mapped: The world’s coal power plants in 2020 (carbonbrief.org)
      Since 2000, the world has doubled its coal-fired power capacity to around 2,045 gigawatts (GW) after explosive growth in China and India. A further 200GW is being built and 300GW is planned.
      Australia is responsible for 0.017% of the world’s power generated from fossil fuels**, and it is decreasing. No coal-fired power stations are being built in Australia – they are being closed!

      World annual coal production is running at about 7,500 million tonnes. Australia exports about 200 million tonnes of thermal coal annually, amounting to 0.027% of world production and usage.

      Why is Australia being denigrated as a pariah by our own people when the publicly available figures show that we are an insignificant bit-player in the global scheme of things?

      ** I think this rather underestimates our CO2 emissions from coal-fired electricity. I think he may have dropped a decimal point. In any case, Australia’s emissions from electricity generation are minuscule, and further reductions won’t make any difference (to the World whereas Australia gets the problems). And further, why should we “do the right thing” or “set an example” when the rest of the World is either ignoring the IPCC (as allowed by several “Climate Conferences”) or fiddling their figures. Does Germany count the emissions from burning household rubbish to generate suburban hot water schemes? Does it count the emissions from burning wood (household or power stations). Does Denmark record emissions from similar schemes or from their international shipping? Drax in the UK gets subsidies for burning (old growth forest) wood with 32% overall increase in CO2 emissions. The Netherlands “reduces” the emissions from its coal-fired power stations by buying Green Certificates from the Norwegian hydro companies.
      Great for the Vikings – generate for themselves, reliable cheap electricity. Sell Green Certificates.
      Shut hydro to accept cheap electricity from Denmark and Germany when the wind blows – no problem.
      Send electricity to Denmark and Germany at a higher price when the wind doesn’t blow (getting a higher price) and collect the Green Certificates.
      Who said the vikings were traders and pillagers?

      40

  • #
    Richard Owen No.3

    David:
    150MWh could only deliver 2.6kWh to those 57,000 homes – assuming it was fully charged and could discharge 100% (rubbish ABC! read the warranty)
    That would last about 3 hours at best.

    As people are increasingly saying “Is it true, or was it on the ABC?”

    220

    • #
      Michael Spencer

      Do you mean ‘Their ABC’?

      00

    • #
      Chad

      Richard Owen No.3
      May 27, 2021 at 8:45 am · Reply
      David:
      150MWh could only deliver 2.6kWh to those 57,000 homes – assuming it was fully charged and could discharge 100% (rubbish ABC! read the warranty)
      That would last about 3 hours at best

      In order to deliver 2.6kW to 57,000 homes for 3 hours, ..it would need to be a 450 MWh battery !

      30

      • #
        Richard Owen No.3

        I worked on a home using 20kWh per day or around 0.83 per hour. There’s my 3 hours.

        00

  • #
    David Maddison

    I know this article is not about the hydrogen economy but some posters mentioned it above….so I’ll comment…

    I wonder if those promoting the “hydrogen economy” have any clue how difficult and expensive it is to handle cryogenic hydrogen, the only real “practical” way to do so?

    Metal hydrides are too heavy and the other way is to store it in liquid ammonia under pressure and low temperature. With ammonia storage, well, what could possibly go wrong even if it were practical?

    There are other proposed chemical storage means for hydrogen but none look very promising either.

    60

    • #
      hypersonic

      The best chemical storage i know of is called Petrol

      170

    • #
      Analitik

      One of the Liddell staff told me that after numerous explosions and other less dramatic maintenance issues, they gave up on generating their own hydrogen for the generator cooling and purchased it instead, from natural gas reforming. It says something that a “free” resource (in the context of a power plant) is too much hassle to be cost effective.

      110

  • #
    YallaYPoora Kid

    Imagine if the CCP invaded Australia – besides the obvious the first (ok second) thing they would do is build reliable power sources since you can’t run industry on ‘Mickey Mouse’ power generation.

    They would not need to ship iron ore and coal or uranium or even gas to China because we have all those in abundance in Australia. Real industry could be built locally.

    Wow, do we need to give up our freedom to have a reliable power supply?

    130

    • #
      David Maddison

      It might come to that. Live under intolerable conditions in Australia rapidly descending to Third World status (where the Left want us),

      Or

      Live under a Chi-comm dictatorship where at least things would get done and there would be law and order but no human rights.

      Of course, innovation would eventually be stifled as it always is in dictatorships and once the US and Europe fall they’ll have no one to steal intellectual property from.

      90

    • #
      Lance

      All things considered, No, you do Not need to give up your freedom to have a reliable power supply.

      However, what is required to have both your freedom and reliable power include:

      Abandoning Magical Thinking
      Learning about maths, engineering, economics, etc.
      Understanding that politicians in the large have no idea about the items above.
      Removing and replacing political idiots with critically thinking, patriotic, sane, people.
      Eliminating the dysfunctional Uni departments and professors who focus on What to think instead of How to think.
      Ignoring the Green idiots who have zero grasp of anything mentioned above.

      In effect, AU has allowed far too many incompetent idiots, hucksters, thieves, and ideologues to occupy positions of power and authority, for far too long. Those idiots have squandered the Nation for the sake of their profits, ideology, and egos. In return, they have hobbled your lives, ruined your economy, and if not stopped, will enslave you all.

      Most Western Nations have done the same, so you are not alone. Same solutions apply to all.

      180

      • #
        YallaYPoora Kid

        I agree with you Lance however I live in Victoria which is as close to magical thinking and CCP rule as you can get. At least we are still permitted to write freely on some blogs without getting censored or imprisoned.

        70

        • #

          Lance, plus that one extra necessity — backbones.

          Most nice people are totally untrained, unprepared, and give in to righteous indignation in an instant. That is our challenge, not only to help them see how daft these ideas are, and how much they personally pay for the whims of the Green-Left, but also how techniques of intimidation and coercion run most of our national conversations on any contentious topic.

          Gone is the civility we need to run civilization.

          150

          • #
            Michael Spencer

            “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything!” – Mark Twain.

            And thanks for your honest reporting Jo!

            60

      • #
        Philip

        When did the bad ones take over ? I say after Menzies died. Howard was a brief reprise, kind of. The people before that did a pretty good job.

        00

    • #
      Hanrahan

      They would not need to ship iron ore and coal or uranium or even gas to China because we have all those in abundance in Australia. Real industry could be built locally.

      Premier Joh had the dream that Qld and WA would become steel manufacturers using each others’ resources. ‘Twas a pipe dream.

      It is cheaper freight-wise to ship Australian resources to Asia and import the steel than to ship anything using coastal shipping which must, by agreement with the MUA, be on Australian flagged and crewed ships.

      Guys, WAKE UP! Militant unions are destroying Aus.

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  • #

    Hydrogen is a complete pipe dream and having actually worked with it, it has significant safety issues that will at some stage cause catastrophic problems…But the Left remain deluded.

    We need to also do the sums on hydrogen. I did these for the proposed 5% hydrogen addition at Tallawarra – and these sums, which are easy to do, show that the addition of hydrogen will only increase power prices, significantly. In fact if one tried to run 100% hydrogen they would not be able to sell the power as it would be so far above conventional power sources in price. But again, the Left sit happily in their delusion here.

    When will we have engineers like myself involved in the decision making here. If its Batteries, hydrogen, windmills or panels we have huge cost issues which are being waved away but will cause massive problems. But it seems the Left does not do engineering – they just prefer the politics.

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    Ross

    If you follow the Twitter feeds of both Angus Taylor and the CSIRO they are continually boosting the prospects of Hydrogen as the future fuel. Apparently its “Green hydrogen”, because those fanny things will actually contribute some electricity towards the hydrolysis process. CSIRO are all over it because they can see a river of fund money coming their way. Some of it they have already received. Somewhere in the recent past a politician or bureaucrat signed Australia up to some Hydrogen pledge and at the time they probably thought it was harmless. Even yesterday, there was a tsunami of comments regarding the unreliability of coal. This story probably wont even rate. We’re all post truth these day after all.

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      ghl

      ” Somewhere in the recent past a politician or bureaucrat signed Australia up to some Hydrogen pledge and at the time they probably thought it was harmless”
      Now what does that remind me of? Oh yes, remember just after Malcolm lost the PM job, he represented Australia at a CAGW conference? I have no idea what he signed.And a totally unrelated and random piece of news, Malcolm is starting a hydrogen venture of some kind jointly with Fortescue Metals.

      I don’t know what made me connect those dots.

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  • #
    Dipole

    Pure H2 will flame when in contact with O2, but I gather that contained H2 is “safe”, and after watching the safety video,that if there is leakage that leakage, I imagine should have been vented externally.

    Perhaps the leakage of H2 occurred within the plant and combined with the O2 in air then “exploded”

    A quick search shows that it is “flammable” but, but, but, does it explode ?

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  • #
    another ian

    “Lets see how we go with less coal power”

    https://catallaxyfiles.com/2021/05/26/lets-see-how-we-go-with-less-coal-power/comment-page-1/#comment-3863758

    (Originally put on Tues Unthreaded)

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    Ronin

    With the big push for ruinables, can anyone see the commie QLD govt spending anything to rebuild Callide #4 unit, I can’t.

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    • #
      hypersonic

      Beyond economical repair

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      • #
        Hanrahan

        The alternator is fully enclosed and the hydrogen coolant is kept at a + ve pressure so it is “impossible” for O2 to enter. If this held true then the explosion would have been external and the alternator would be OK.

        Somehow I doubt my assertion held true. For such a big explosion it would need to have been contained ergo the human element I have been talking about comes into play. Was someone asleep and allowed the reserve H bottles to run out and pressure within the alt. drop enough to allow air to enter?

        Pure speculation
        on my part but I’d wager incompetence/laziness/bloodymindedness caused this. Wanna bet the hydrogen leak had been logged for repair but not done?

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        • #
          Chris Morris

          If you read my comments over on the original Pundits post, it was not a hydrogen explosion. It was a turbine blade coming through the casing. The generator was not involved.

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            Ronin

            The fire would have been fed by the lube oil supply.

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              Hanrahan

              Was there a fire?

              Link please.

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            • #
              Hanrahan

              Neither Ronan nor Chris have explained “the biggest explosion I have heard” comment by townsfolk.

              We can go around in circles but we are guessing. The one thing we know for sure is that we will never know unless someone has an inside source.

              The fire would have been fed by the lube oil supply.

              Lube oil in the jet engine is not good. A busted oil line feeding oil into the combustion was what nearly brought QF 32 down.

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            Hanrahan

            It was a turbine blade coming through the casing. The generator was not involved.

            Link please.

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      Just Thinkin'

      They’ll fix it. Because they have to.
      Remember, it is half of the “C” Station.

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    Mike Jonas

    “The battery will have the capacity to power up to 57,000 homes every year, and store 150mWh of energy,”. 150mWh between 57,000 homes is 2,631 kWh per home per annum. ‘Typical’ residential consumption is in excess of 5,000 kWh per annum.

    https://www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/files/Environment/What_is_a_Typical_Energy_Consumption_Presentation.pdf
    So that 57,000 homes has just shrunk to 30,000 homes or less.
    But those ‘typical’ households use gas too, and that’s got to stop, they say, so that super-large and no doubt super-expensive battery isn’t looking too crash hot.
    Maybe they should forget the battery and go straight to hydrogen. That really is crash hot, as the Callide power station just discovered.

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    • #
      yarpos

      150 milliwatt hours wont power much of anything (sorry, just releasing my inner pedant)

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    • #
      Chad

      Mike Jonas
      May 27, 2021 at 9:58 am ·
      “The battery will have the capacity to power up to 57,000 homes every year, and store 150mWh of energy,”. 150mWh between 57,000 homes is 2,631 kWh per home per annum. ‘….

      Errr.. NO!
      150MWh will only supply those 57000 homes with 2.63 kW FOR 1.0. HOUR maximum !
      It is totally useless as a power supply.
      If you wanted it to supply that 2.63 kW for a year….it would need to be 8760 times bigger..
      ….IE approx 1,314 GWh !!……at a cost that would buy several hundred Nuclear power plants !
      Its main function will be for FCAS ..Frequency Control and .Auxilliary Services.
      At best, it should prevent the “cascade” shutdown of working generators , when a single major unit fails..by preventing the frequency variations as seen on Tuesday.

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  • #
    David Maddison

    The Left always demand equal misery for all and that’s just not fair.

    Therefore, consumers should be able to select whether they want ruinables electricity or electricity from coal, gas or ==gasp== nuclear.

    If there is a supply failure on one, they other shouldn’t be allow to make up the deficiency.

    Smart meters can do this once the appropriate software is written.

    Uptake of the ruinables option shouldn’t be a problem because they keep telling us how cheap ruinables are.

    What do you think?

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  • #

    If there’s just one thing I can thank Joanne for here, and it surprised me, is that link to the 61 page pdf document.

    Admitted it was to page 48 and the Hydrogen cooled generator. Hydrogen cooled generators have been in use now for 60 years. It’s an odd thing. While explaining electrical power and its intricacies, you sometimes just skip over things which are so commonplace, you (well, me) think that everyone already knows that, but it was really only ….. ‘commonplace’ for me.

    But hey, that 61 page pdf document. (well, it’s acctually 120 pages as there are two pages to an on screen page) Boring boring boring, 61 pages of it, No one’s going to read it. Just flick to that page 48, have a look, get out, and then onto the next thing.

    It’s from the GE Company, and I’m still working my way through it.

    But think about it.

    How many times have we heard that coal fired power is now a dodo on its last flight to extinction.

    And yet here we have a 61 page pdf devoted just to coal fired power, with pages and pages and pages of new advances in coal fired power.

    Now why oh why would a humungous Company like this be sinking shirtloads of money into what is, so we are told, a dying dodo, a failed enterprise, a stranded asset.

    Trust me on this, coal fired power has a very long future. Just look at Page four.

    And some of you might even find that little something I’m working on.

    Tony.

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    John in Oz

    Looking at Australia’s solar generation capacity (https://anero.id/energy/solar-energy), it appears that we lose 2.5GW of generation every night and nary a word is spoken about this catastrophe, as has occurred with the Callide C Power Plant incident.

    Will there be the same blame-shifting, expert reviews, Royal Commissions and politicians spruiking their favourite power hobby horses over the loss of so much power generation capacity on such a regular basis?

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  • #
    Phillip Charles Sweeney

    The Hydrogen Economy

    In 1975 I gave a dissertation on this topic as a Chemical Engineering student at Newcastle University. It was not received well by the professor – too “pie in the sky”.

    It is important to note that hydrogen is not a primary energy source – it is rare on earth even though it is the most abundant element in the universe.

    Hydrogen is a means of transmitting and storing energy. It is useful for powering inner-city busses for example.

    Currently, the cheapest way of making hydrogen is from fossil fuels.

    Hydrogen production is the perfect partner for a nuclear power station.

    Making hydrogen from wind and solar power is likely to be too expensive for the foreseeable future.

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    David Maddison

    The Left blame coal plant for an extremely rare failure.

    Are they not aware that wind plant fails multiple times every day and is only capable of delivering about two thirds of advertised capacity?

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    • #
      PeterS

      That would not compute in their puny little brains. To much of the left, electricity is the same no matter how it’s generated so it’s always “on tap”. How wrong they are.

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      • #
        Lance

        Always on tap. Until it isn’t.

        A voltage or frequency collapse can occur in seconds to minutes. Once the synchronous generators (coal, NG, etc ) drop out, the synchronization signal for the RE inverters is lost and then the grid tie inverters automatically disconnect and will not reconnect until the thermal plants re-establish the synch signal.

        RE can only, ever, displace fuel costs at a thermal plant. RE cannot, and will not, replace synchronous generation.

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    • #
      Ronin

      And solar fails for 50% of the day every day like clockwork.

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    • #
      John in Oz

      See my comment #24 re solar.

      Is the sun going down a ‘failure’ of the solar generation system?

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      • #
        YallaYPoora Kid

        Yes it is because another generation source has to replace it. At least sundown is predictable timing-wise however the intensity of light prior to shutdown is variable.

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  • #
    Serge Wright

    There is no doubt that the high level of RE contributed to the blackouts. In a 100% thermal/hydro generation scenario the spinning inertia of the thermal generators provides surplus energy whilst the backup comes on line and hydro ramps up. Adding batteries to the RE does help offset this loss of spinning reserve, but at great cost and it relies on the batteries to be charged when needed.

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    • #
      PeterS

      Also, the short and long term environmental cost and damage would be enormous if we relied much more on batteries. Of course the left don’t want to hear such facts.

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    • #
      Hanrahan

      In a 100% thermal/hydro generation scenario the spinning inertia of the thermal generators provides surplus energy whilst the backup comes on line and hydro ramps up.

      This inertia is only good for milliseconds. There is a noticeable freq. drop every time a dragline takes a bite.

      At the Moranbah sub there is a big flywheel to help ameliorate this but with limited success. But you are right that spinning rotors do smooth intermittent load.

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    Ronin

    Rooftop solar is producing about 1300MW at the moment, when there is a major outage, every home that has solar will produce nothing if the grid goes down, it is switched off automatically by the inverter.

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    • #
      PeterS

      That’s true. It’s for safety reasons as repairs to the grid are carried out.

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      • #
        Hanrahan

        You need a battery and special isolation breakers from the grid to use your own solar power during an outage.

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  • #
    Hanrahan

    I notice in the graphic above that the sugar mills were the most productive of the non-coal assets, listed as “bagasse”.

    There may have been a stroke of luck there because I don’t think the crush has started yet but the mills likely had their boilers hot prepping the mill. Again a stroke of luck: Before the ’70s oil shock the mills would fire up on oil until the bagasse became available but that changed and the mills now stockpile bagasse from one season to start up the next. As electricity became marketable they upgraded their boilers so they could sell into the market.

    Note that they responded in about half an hour. Good one guys!

    So waddayano the “old” technology saved the day.

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    • #

      Thanks for this comment Hanrahan.

      I had to go and look again at the Aneroid site, and it further accentuates something.

      That light green colour you see on the graph ….. after the failure is not Bagasse, as there was NO power generation whatsoever from the sugar mill plant power stations dotted along the Queensland Coastline, all powered by sugar cane waste. (Bagasse)

      That light green colour you see there is (all of it) from Coal Seam Methane plants.

      That’s actually something I did not check, so thanks for bringing that to my attention.

      At my Post I have added these plants, the Coal Seam Methane ones, (the ticked Braemar plants) and the Kerosene plants, (the ticked Mt Stuart boxes) all in with those Natural gas fired plants, as they are all fossil fuelled.

      This was a case of renewables being completely missing during and after the event, and fossil fuelled plants coming to the rescue.

      That’s why I wanted to do this Post, and get it up early, just a day following the event, as you’ll not see any results until after the Labor Government committee of investigation brings out its report, taking Months mind you.

      I wanted this Post early to show ….. EXACTLY how those renewables failed during and after the event, and that it was indeed fossil fuels to the rescue.

      THAT is what needed to be shown, and my Post does that, now always there for reference, and it’s not opinion, but fact, based on the actual power generation data and their images of that data, proving what happened.

      Politicians can get away with saying whatever they want, whatever their script is, and they rely solely on no one having a clue on where to go and what to look for to PROVE the opposite of what they are saying.

      That’s what this Post of mine does.

      Tony.

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      • #
        Hanrahan

        Shot down in flames. 😀

        That kerosene plant at Mt Stuart is not far from me. The vast majority of locals wouldn’t know it exists.

        In the 70s another RR RB211 turbine was installed outside Mackay. Does it show in your data?

        I knew a RR technician [a wild man] and he used to go to Collinsville. Is there a turbine there too?

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      • #
        Ronin

        Good work Tony.

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    • #
      Ronin

      I think some can dispose of green waste, tree limbs, broken demolition timber , assorted council waste, helps avoid tip fees.

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  • #
    Dennis

    As the public lose interest in and/or fear of a political campaign the politicians create another.

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    Hanrahan

    There most certainly was a human factor in this failure. Will anyone ask? Will heads roll? If it was the CFMEU will anyone remember the RC into trade unions and how they were shown to be lawless?

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    Ronin

    If nothing else, the event shows the volatile and hazardous nature of hydrogen, ok when it stays where it’s meant to, but when it doesn’t, Holy Hindenberg indeed.

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    • #
      Robdel

      The incident and its length provides a good foretaste of carbon neutrality or zero emissions by 2030.

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  • #
    Analitik

    Just out of interest, I had a look at South Australia’s thermal generation assets as listed on the Aneroid Energy site (which derives its information from the AEMO published files)

    The total thermal generation capacity hasn’t actually changed much since the pre-renewables times – it still totals to over 3.2GW.

    What has changed is the mix of peaking to baseload capacity. Pre-renewables when Playford and Northern were still operational, the ratio was just under 20% peaking to about 80% baseload (as you would expect from the peak vs base demand).
    The ratio is now a staggering 47% peaking to 53% baseload due to the need for rapid response to the “peaks” caused by renewables intermittency.

    So far from “displacing” thermal generation, renewables have merely increased the requirement for inefficient peaking capacity at the expense of more efficient baseload plants. Great “progress”, eh?

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    • #
      Richard Owen No.3

      Analitik:
      But don’t you see? Peaking plants are essential for the use of renewables (otherwise even more expensive batteries would be needed) so their emissions don’t count. See above comments on burning wood in Europe.
      The same has been happening in the EU and the UK, where renewables have made low emissions CCGTs unprofitable and shutting down, has increased the reliance on coal-fired (esp. as nuclear is phased out) and OCGTs (peaking plants) and diesel. As these last make renewables possible, the Greens prefer to ignore their emissions (and costs) when used as backup.
      I am surprised that Peter Phitzroy or other trolls hasn’t been along to chide you.

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      • #
        Analitik

        Hence the ‘due to the need for rapid response to the “peaks” caused by renewables intermittency’ part of my post.

        There are also CCGT plants now operating mostly in open mode (secondary steam plant largely bypassed) to provide rapid response at the cost of huge decrease in thermal efficiency but allowing them to operate in an economically “viable ” manner.

        Also some nuclear and even coal plants resort to venting steam in order to prevent negative pricing events when there are unexpectedly favourable conditions for renewabubble generation. That and capacity payments are the only way some of these can maintain operation.

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    Dave

    This event had little to do with Hydrogen. It was caused by a steam turbine disk failure which destroyed the turbine casing (think QF32 effects). The damage spread to the associated generator causing a lube oil and H2 fire. There is far more energy in the oil than the H2. Very lucky no one was killed. The turbine was commissioned in 2001.

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    David Maddison

    If things get desperate enough in Australia, we could hire the Russian Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power plant which can provide 70MW of electricity.

    Then again, the government would probably prefer people freeze in the dark than use something, gasp, ==nuclear==.

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    pochas94

    Let’s get the facts before we point the fingers. This could well have been a coal dust explosion.

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    • #
      Hanrahan

      How???

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      • #
        pochas94

        Well, you see, over the years fine particles of coal dust settles out on the rafters. Then, something knocks it loose and it disperses over the available space. Then it finds an ignition source. Then, boom!!

        Also, the Hindenberg was a deflagration, not an explosion.

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    • #
      Ronin

      In the turbine hall, of course, why didn’t we think of that.

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    R.B.

    I don’t know why the glass-half-full mentality. If not for renewables, the lights over the whole state would have gone.

    They give the engineers practice in keeping the grid stable. Would have been half asleep munching donuts, otherwise.

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    • #

      If not for renewables, the lights over the whole state would have gone.

      Immediately following the failure and resultant blackout, at 2.25PM, the total power delivered from ALL renewables amounted to 400MW out of a total of 4400MW, so 9.1%.

      The breakdown from those renewables was:

      Wind – Zero
      Rooftop Solar – Zero
      Solar power plants – 300MW
      Hydro – 100MW

      Phew! Dodged a bullet there, I’m sure.

      Tony.

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    • #
      R.B.

      They give the engineers practice

      Just taking the piss.

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    David Maddison

    This is an opportune time to remind people what Donald Thorne really said in his oft misquoted 1964 “lucky country” quote.

    Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.

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    • #
      Tilba Tilba

      It was Donald Horne (not Thorne) … and his quote has had a long and interesting history.

      There is no doubt that for most of us, having been born white in Australia has been akin to winning the lottery – you can achieve things here (like material security, social status, even national acclaim) without having great deal of talent, or even being committed to hard work. Most countries are far harder in most of these aspects.

      But there is another side. Australia is a really hard country for the vast majority of the population to make a living. Sure, there is a ruling elite – the top 20% who have occupied the best best houses in the very best suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne for 4-5 generations. They stroll into daddy’s law firm after an easy degree at a top university.

      But for most of us, it has been a harsh land in many ways. And for millions of migrants between say 1850 and 2000, it has been an incredibly hard grind. But there again, I look across my street, and third general Greek teenagers are heading off to private schools that cost $40,000 a year. Lots of those migrant have done really well.

      And in many ways we have punched way above our weight, and in others, we have severely under-performed. But outside that pampered 10-20% at the top, nobody gets it handed to them on a platter – and this applies particularly to those who live outside the major cities – the farmers, the farm labourers, the miners, and thousands of others who populate small-town Australia.

      It’s a Lucky Country, but also a really hard one. We are wealthy because we dig stuff up, we grow food & fibre, we offer great education, and we have the best beaches in the world. We are not second-rate meatheads – we are educated, bright, and innovative. And have a sense of humour. Donald Horne’s Australia is long gone.

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      • #
        Richard Owen No.3

        Can I recommend C.Northcote Parkinson? A historian. He pointed out that a country where immigrants could rise through the status ranks with hard work, education and (above all) talent and determination wasn’t necessarily the worst off in the World. (and for what it is worth, he was using the UK from 1830 on as the example). The stultifying effect of high taxation was strongly emphasised.

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        Old Cocky

        You’ve lost me there. How can being being white like most of us be akin to winning the lottery while at the same time being a hard country for the vast majority of the population to make a living?

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        • #
          Tilba Tilba

          The white Anglo-Irish-Euro middle class or upper, with stable solid families, tertiary education, or trade qualifications – for this group it is a good life lottery to win.

          But being a solid part of that means that one doesn’t lose sight of the millions of migrants and long-term working poor, and of course Indigenous Australians … for whom many things are tough. Go and stand on a busy corner in Footscray for half an hour … to see that Australia.

          But with hard work and talent, a lot of those migrants progress steadily over a generation or three. There is no contradiction in my comments – there is more than one Australia, and most of them are good.

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          • #
            Old Cocky

            Thanks for trying to reconcile the contradiction, but the majority succeeding without much talent or effort and a hard struggle for the majority is still contradictory.

            Now that the groups have been implicitly redefined to cover partially overlapping minorities, it gels better.

            Perseverance and a little good fortune would be worthwhile additions to the third paragraph, and it doesn’t just cover the migrants.

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  • #
    MrGrimNasty

    Hydrogen accidents in the news are not that uncommon; A production plant in the USA, a car fuel cell refuelling station in Norway etc. And of course in nuclear accidents it is often a major feature.

    But there are far more natural gas explosions, in the UK flattened houses and deaths are quite common, certainly several a month in recent times.

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    Senex

    Here’s another completely different reason to be wary of the “Hydrogen Economy”, especially if you are a “Climate Change” true believer. The whole rationale for replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen is to reduce the man-made output of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When hydrogen is burned in air, the result is mostly water vapour, and presumably traces of ammonia etc. since we are not talking pure oxygen. Water vapour is considered to be a much more potent “greenhouse gas” then CO2, indeed the main concern about CO2 is its presumed amplification of the effect of water vapour. Not only would there still be an impact on global climate according to popular (note I didn’t say “correct”) climate change theories, imagine the local effects in densely populated areas. An increase in water vapour in the air above urban areas would cause a persistent, significant rise in relative humidity, which would have a real impact on local climate.

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    CHRIS

    Noted Senex, and a very good pragmatic argument for the role that H20 vapor plays in the Earth’s climate. Of course, you must also include the UHI effect and its impact on the environment, which is constantly growing. There are so many parameters to consider, it is no wonder that pure science is smothered by quasi-religious dogma.

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

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    Philip

    yeah but we’ll have batteries in the future, amazing advancements are happening all the time in batteries, and at a rapid rate that gets more rapid every day.

    This is what I hear on talk back radio.

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