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Guest post by Rafe Champion. Be a wind watcher and get savvy about wind droughts

This supports Jo’s post on wind droughts. The point is that we have to strive for “wind drought literacy” in the general population. Apart from people who mess around in sailboats and people who play sports where the wind has an impact on missiles in flight, most of us take little notice of the wind unless it is blowing our hat off or turning our umbrella inside out.

It is really important for everyone to know that the wind is quite often low across the whole of SE Australia due to high pressure systems and sometimes these systems linger for a day or two. Wind droughts are more frequent in individual states.

The easiest way to get a fix on the wind situation is to glance at the NEMwatch widget. It is live and it changes every five minutes. You can read it on your phone and this is the kind of picture you will see.

The bars indicate the amount of power that is being generated and consumed in each state at the moment. WA is not connected to the Eastern electricity grid so supply matches demand while in the SE there are flows between the states

The generation bar is colour coded with wind in GREEN and the takeaway message is to see how much more green is required to replace coal (black and brown) and gas (red). Windless nights are the real killers because both the sun and the wind are off duty.

AEMO RECORDS

The AEMO has a continuous record of the power delivered from all the wind farms attached to the integrated electric power grid covering South Eastern Australia (the NEM). Paul Miskelly used that data for the calendar year 2010 to report that the total wind output across the entire grid fell rapidly to zero or near zero on many occasions in the year.

 During the first 6 months of the year, there are 58 intervals where the output falls below 2% of the installed capacity.
 For the entire year, there are 109 such intervals of varying length, adding up to 155.6 hours, or nearly 6.5 days.

At the time where were only 23 wind farms with a less than 2GW of installed capacity and it was anticipated that the supply would become more reliable as the number of sites increased.

Some years later John Morgan reported that the situation was much the same in the 12-month period from Sep 2014 to Sept 2015 when the capacity of the wind fleet was approaching 4GW.

He found 29 days in the year with the fleet delivering less than 10% of capacity. The lowest was 2.7% https://bravenewclimate.com/2015/11/08/the-capacity-factor-of-wind/

Mike O’Ceirin, an independent analyst, has unpublished information collated from the AEMO records up to the end of 2020 showing an average of 15 episodes per year when the delivery was 6% or less of the installed capacity.

Some of those episodes last for a long time.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF WIND DROUGHTS

The system has to be designed to cater for the worst case scenarios of wind and solar input. Obviously the weakest parts are windless nights because WHEN THERE IS NEXT TO NO GENERATION, NO AMOUNT OF ADDITIONAL WIND AND SOLAR CAPACITY HELP. 5, 10 or 50 times next to nothing is still next to nothing compared with the demand in the grid.

RE enthusiasts regularly report new records for the penetration of RE into the grid and the South Australia is the star performer because on sunny and windy afternoons RE can exceed the demand in the grid for short periods. They are looking at the system through the wrong end of the telescope because generating an excess of RE power for some short periods, or even substantial periods, will not prevent system collapse on windless nights unless there is 100% of conventional power available or there is massive grid-scale storage that is not feasible with current technology.

So read the reports from the Energy Realists of Australia, become a wind-watcher and tell your friends and relations about the NEMwatch widget!

9.8 out of 10 based on 54 ratings

106 comments to Guest post by Rafe Champion. Be a wind watcher and get savvy about wind droughts

  • #

    A very good Article but it isn’t just us blog readers and others that need to make themselves aware of the issues surrounding “Wind Farm” generated electrical energy. How do we get the “Pollies”, Public Servants and Energy Administrators to understand all of this. Does it really need an Energy Crisis to finally wake them up?

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    • #

      The energy folks know all about this, but they have various counter arguments and dodges. Note that the European crisis was not due to low wind. It was due to a low wind forecast that was way too high, so they did not have enough gas on hand to cover it. Reserve gas is a big hidden cost of wind power.

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    • #
      Lawrie

      Whenever such an article arrives I send a copy to both my federal and state member plus a few senators. I realise some recipients won’t read them and in some cases the gatekeepers will not even pass them on but we have to try. It is when we stop trying that we have lost. I do know that my federal member, Dr David Gillespie, reads them because he sometimes answers personally and he is fully aware of the shortcomings of wind and solar and he is a supporter of nuclear power. What makes him different is that he is a well credentialed and very successful doctor and businessman having become a politician in his late 50s. He is not a brainwashed juvenile who has spent their entire lives in the political sphere. Maybe we should demand that representatives have had twenty or so years working in the real world before they can even be considered for political office.

      40

  • #
    Ronin

    South South Australia is in a bit of a drought at the moment, importing from Vic 80% brown coal fired power and 96% of SA power coming from gas, very renewable, not.

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    • #
      Robber

      At 7am this morning, the big “renewable” state of SA power grid had solar providing 0.1%, wind 0.8%, the big battery 0.4%, and the rest – fossil fuels. All through the night, 50% of power was coming from Victoria via that big extension cord. And the spot price – over $300/MWhr.

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    • #
      yarpos

      The “RE” zealots will studiously ignore those periods. Its similar to the weight loss strategy that says there are no calories in food that nobody sees you eat. Just self delusion really and sadly when reality bites it hurts everyone.

      40

  • #
    Erasmus

    Energy Policy: the single biggest failure of government and media in my lifetime.

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    • #
      Kalm Keith

      Depends how you look at it.

      If you’re an “investor” in renewables you see gold.

      If you’re an electricity user, residential or business, you see that stuff that horses and dogs leave on the trail.

      120

  • #
    Ronin

    Right now on Monday morning at 07:52, wind is at 6%, how useless is that.

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  • #
    Saighdear

    Aye ( with a very big sigh ) and the uk is gonna show how to lead by being super daft. THe Saudi of wind power, etc and according to Gridwatch https://gridwatch.co.uk you can see especially for Past month of MARCH, there has been a dearth of wind power …. and as I keep saying, would anyone going fishing in a lake with few fish encourage results by using more rods in that same Loch? No wind – so we’ll make more windNills.
    I was watching an episode of “Naked & Afraid XL All Stars” in Africa , tonight. ONe guy on his own managed to survuive for around 20 -odd days and do well: the others whom he found / tracked down, couldn’t organise a P-up in brewery, let alone collect firewood in amongst the trees etc etc. We see this stupid behavour in our Politicians around the world too. Look at Covid – all around , pretty well all agreeing to do NONSENSE acts, as with the perceived Climate emergency as well. is it really PRIDE at fault? much like a Bairn getting a new toy for Christmas / Birthday and is so overwhelmed with it that it is “HIS” and no one else should touch it, yet he is helpless in opening the Parcel and fitting the batteries to be able to sensibly use it …. Seen that kind of people – drunk with their own stupidity / ignorance … IMHO.

    250

    • #
      Lawrie

      Did you vote for Scottish secession? I do note that the UK as a whole is being committed to renewables supported by 7 nukes and some more local gas. Scotland OTOH is wildly optimistic about renewables.

      20

      • #
        Saighdear

        There is a great deal of theorising about secession so that it is difficult to identify a consensus regarding its definition, … ” well Yep & Nope to your question.
        I am british, was ‘for’ the EEC but wanted Brexit from the EU, and fear Independence ( an to be rejoining the EU ) as it may lead to conflicts as in recent times, locally and not so far away. Scotland unfortunately has never been a fully fledged member of the UK like as in the phrase ‘England & Wales’ we have had separate Education, Agri advisory services, etc. we have always been the odd-one out – hence so much resentment towards ‘ the english’ – can you blame us ?
        AS for being wildly optimistic …. huh – IF so many of our National Youth is so well educated with degrees and diplomas, etc, begs the question ‘what did they learn’ that they do not know so many BASICS of Life and so derive these Bonkers demands. As I keep saying ( and if only they cared to look / see/ watch ) that if the wind don’t blow, any’s a number of wind Nills is going to produce power. Nobody in their right mind installs Solar Panels to work in the dark, do they. and of course we have the “DarkSKY Project” – yes it is Very dark nowadays in the absence of a High Full Moon. ( referring to Solar being so good it works at night – as they claim).
        BTW the Media Forecasts told us we would have SNOW + -10C this week…… results in: wet light snow at sea-level and little frost, snow forecasts of depths quickly tumbling to just 1-2 CENTIMETRES instead of a foot. we call this March/ April Lambing Snows and normal April showers are taken to be short and heavy , maybe with Hail, sleet or snow ( & Thunder with the Hail )

        20

  • #
    Paul Miskelly

    Great post Rafe.
    Thanks for the mention of my early paper. In that regard, I want to acknowledge all the help given to me by Tom Quirk in analysing the AEMO data over these many years. Tom’s analysis was crucial to our determination in the paper of the reliability and hence the dispatchability of wind generation.

    And as to data sources, let’s not forget, as pointed out by “Robber” yesterday, the huge amount of work done by TonyfromOz at:
    https://papundits.wordpress.com/author/tonyoz/ .

    Regards,

    Paul Miskelly

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    • #
      Rafe Champion

      Thanks Paul, I kept this post simple and put in a link to one of the Energy Realist posts that ends up with an account of the sites that dedicated windwatchers use. For people who are not dedicated the NEMwatch widget is ideal because you can have it on your phone and get the picture at a glance.
      Tony from Oz was the first to post regularly (I suppose daily is regularly) to explain what is going on, he did it all by himself, a truly remarkable solo effort.

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  • #
    Ross

    As an introduction, I could post a comment on wind power that would be long and complicated. I wont. As a reliable power generation source its useless. Simples. The craziness with the positioning of the WMPI’s (Wind motion power installations- pronounced wimpy) in Victoria, Australia is that they are mostly in the S/w corner of the state. Hence, always all affected by the same weather patterns. Same goes for South Australia and even Tasmania. But even within that area in Victoria the WIMPI’s are still situated far and wide in isolated locations. What should have happened way back in the late 1990’s when they started this crazy experiment with unreliables, is that all the WIMPI’s should have been restricted to one smallish area only. Probably at least the most wind reliable area. Installed maybe 1000 turbines within a 100 km corridor. Then, connection to the main grid would have been less problematic and also the forecasting of the wind droughts and their subsequent downtimes would be more easily managed. More farmers would have benefited from the tower payments and less countryside would have been despoiled.

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  • #
    Ronin

    How many more of these ‘Sentinels of Stupidity’ have to be built before it dawns on somebody that this isn’t the way to generate reliable power.

    140

    • #
      Neil+Crafter

      But they do generate reliable subsidies…..

      140

      • #

        Yes they do, very big subsidies.

        Take the Hepburn Two Windmill Facility for example which according to its audited 2021 annual report received the following revenue for the year.

        Electricity sales – $294,000
        Renewable Energy Certificates – $213,000
        Other Revenue – $28,000
        Government Grants – $1,060,000

        Total Revenue – $1,596,000

        And with banks offering 0.25% per year interest investment in windmills makes a lot of sense.

        91

  • #
    a+happy+little+debunker

    If it can’t run 24/7/52 then it is a secondary power source rather than a primary source.
    You can have all the secondary sources in the world – but they will never be a primary energy source.

    161

  • #

    The other half of the equation is that the standard wind turbine takes a lot of wind to produce power. Nearly 10 mph just to start up and a very rare 33 mph sustained for full power. So low wind is enough for a drought, not no wind.

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    • #
      PeterS

      Yes but they don’t care about such facts. The just want net zero emissions and that’s that.

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    • #
      Rafe Champion

      Yes Miskelly and Morgan were far too strict in their definition of a drought, also Mike O’Ceirin at 6%.
      I draw the line at 10% so you don’t have to do sums to work out the number but of course you are right, in the case of South Australia they are so wind-dependent that any time below the average (29%) can be problematic, especially during the night. And of course the wind is below average half the time:)

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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      And if the wind is strong they shut down. Much as sailing ships reduced sails.

      120

  • #

    Almost two thirds (63%) of all the operating Wind Plants in Australia are all located in that area of South Eastern South Australia, and Central Western Victoria, and while a large area, it is fairly compact really, considering the huge size of those High Pressure weather systems.

    When those huge High Pressure weather systems move into that area, hover over that area, and then slowly move on, you can watch as wind generation winds back over periods of ten to twenty hours, then stays low, and then slowly rise again.

    In that area alone, there is a total Nameplate of a little under 5300MW, and there has been periods of time when the total generated power is only coming from less than 100MW of that total and for hours on end.

    There has been periods, and not just one or two, but a number of them, when ALL the wind plants are delivering ZERO power, and imagine that if you will, South Australia, 28 wind plants Nameplate around 2200MW not one tower generating power, and then the same for Victoria, with 25 wind plants, and a Nameplate around 3200MW, also rolling along at zero generated power.

    But that’s not the worst of it.

    A closer look and there has been occasions when not only are both States rolling along at Zero delivered power, but they are actually drawing power from the grid, and not small amounts, but actually enough to see on the graphs, and then note how much power IS being drawn from the grid.

    So, and here, that drawing power from the grid is only actually visible when they are all at zero generated power, it then means that when overall generated power is in fact low, and some wind plants are delivering, then that ‘invisible’ drawing of power from the grid by plants at zero is hidden by the slight delivery of power from the few plants which are in operation.

    So, what I’m getting at here goes right to the crux of what Rafe is saying.

    We need to ‘educate’ the Public about how poor wind generation really is.

    BUT, and here’s the really big BUT.

    The intricate technicalities that some of us are aware of are the things which that same general public would have no comprehension of and while it’s easy for some of us to see, that vast populace would immediately turn off, and then not even bother to come back to visit again.

    So, we need to keep it as simple as we possibly can.

    That’s something I have struggled with for the fourteen years now I have been doing that.

    How to explain something so technical in a manner that the general population, well that percentage who might be interested, or then, from that, interested enough to want to look further, then right from the beginning, it has to be simple.

    So, that’s why I made this simple graph to show wind power and its relationship with ACTUAL consumed power.

    Average yearly wind generation versus average power consumption

    You can scoff if you wish, but keep in mind that the attention span of the people we are aiming this at is low, meaning that if it’s too technical, like my long Series explaining those weather related wind droughts, then they will just immediately turn right away from it all ….. and NOT come back.

    So, it needs to be as simple and punchy as we can make it. Hence that simple graph.

    ALL the information is on that graph, and it’s jaw dropping in nature.

    Tony.

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    • #
      Ross

      One of the biggest problem with that communication – all the wind turbines are situated in the “bush” well out of sight to the >90% of consumers of the trivial amount of electricity that they produce. They only time they actually see them is via cute and cuddly TV ads. Hence, out of sight, out of mind.

      190

    • #
      Lance

      You’ve hit the nail with your observation, that’s for sure and for certain.

      Perhaps it might help to avoid the technicalities and focus on the impacts to the ordinary persons.

      Low wind means spoiled food, sickness, no Lifts, No cell phones, no water, no AC, no Heat, no lights, no EV charging, no refrigerators, deaths at hospital, etc.
      These are things ordinary people think will continue to work, but don’t understand will NOT work if unreliable power is the mainstay.

      Figure out what matters to the common people and then explain how those things will simply not happen. They will “get that”.
      Ask the pollies to guarantee what we know can’t continue with an unreliable grid, and hold them responsible in the media when things fail.

      That’s how you link the reality of results to the fantasy of ignorance.

      170

    • #
      Honk R Smith

      “We need to ‘educate’ the Public about how poor wind generation really is.”

      Perhaps we need to educate the public that the reason for the production of these monstrosities is a lie.
      It’s a religious conflict.
      The public will, and is, accepting inefficient service in the fight against the carbon devil dragon in the sky.

      120

    • #
      GlenM

      Maybe I have a sense of what Cervantes was on about. I often point out that our local array is dormant but most don’t care. I guess that some are that dense that they may well suggest building more! The corrupted minds believe that it is all green and sustainable and renewable. Surely you think that they are a blight on the landscape.

      90

    • #
      yarpos

      Its one thing to have a message , quite another to have a channel with mass reach to deliver it. I dont see that happening until we have an incident that blacks out a few million people. At that stage there will be amazing levels of interest.

      Until that happens and power keeps coming , albeit with 100 band aids applied, this is all just noise to the public.

      20

      • #

        I know it’s an effort but lets not talk ourselves out of doing something useful. That is — of course — exactly what the parasites want you to think.

        Electricity bills are already a problem.

        30

        • #
          yarpos

          Never suggested giving up, thats not my style. However I think realistically not much will change until there is a catalyst. An example is how Germany kept going down the wind path until its Russian wake up call. Their course change has been rapid and public acceptance pretty high.

          10

  • #
    David Maddison

    As any sailor will tell you, wind is random and even though “the wind is free” when it comes, it costs a lot of money to collect.

    That’s why the steam engine was developed.

    190

  • #
    PeterS

    I wonder how many here in Australia will fall this this gem of a lie. I bet a lot. Biden might end up being infamous with his own version of the hockey stick – see graph in article.
    Biden To Save Americans $6000 Per Year With Windmills

    40

  • #
    RickWill

    Solar at present panel prices is an economic fuel replacement for diesel in remote parts of Australia at current diesel prices. Not sure if present panel prices will be maintained given the rising cost of inputs.

    The Q4 AEMO market report makes interesting reading because there are developing trends being driven by rising price of coal and gas:
    https://aemo.com.au/-/media/files/major-publications/qed/2021/q4-report.pdf?la=en
    Gas generation was at its lowest since 2003.

    Rooftop added generation over the year from Q42020 to Q42021 was 500MW averaged over the period. Almost as much as the decline in black coal, down 600MW.

    The synchronous condensers in SA were commissioned and they were the major contributor to the reduction in gas because directions for gas generators were reduced.

    Batteries are taking an increasing share of the FCAS demand by displacing that supplied by dispatchable generators.

    The market share of intermittents in Q4 averaged 34.9%. The peak was 61%. Rooftops supplied 32% of the demand during the peak.

    Voluntary curtailment of intermittents was an all time high at almost 10% of potential capacity. It gets harder to stuff more intermittent generation into the system without increasing storage. But there is a lot more storage in the pipeline. Victoria’s big battery made a significant contribution to the share of FCAS taken by batteries.

    Australia has sunk massive investment into intermittent infrastructure that is now reducing fossil fuel demand by more than 1/3rd. Those displaced fossil fuels are achieving unprecedented prices in global markets.

    Having all those sunk costs, there is very little prospect of ever making a case for more coal power in Australia. I cannot envisage the situation where I will not operate the solar panels on my roof and there is every prospect I will replace any that happen to fail. If my off-grid battery eventually dies, I will be looking at a commercial unit rather than my prototype system. The current lithium battery is now over 10 years in service and has paid for itself more than once. My grid supplier is already spending money to strengthen the distribution network that enable all the rooftops to get power back up the system. Those costs are being sunk as I type and will be factored into the cost of grid power for the foreseeable future.

    The wholesale cost of power has substantially declined over the past 4 years. However the transmission and distribution costs are continuing to climb and no changes in the system fuel mix will alter that now. They are sunk costs with guaranteed returns. South Australians are locked into paying for the synchronous condensers for the foreseeable future. But they are using less gas at a time when gas prices are at unprecedented levels.

    The linked chart really highlights the trends in play:
    https://opennem.org.au/energy/nem/?range=all&interval=1M
    The current cost of coal and gas, in combination with all the sunk costs in electricity infrastructure, will underpin the continuation of the trend.

    57

    • #
      Rafe Champion

      FACS is only required to mitigate the impact of unreliable energy in the grid. The green transition is not sustainable but the stability problem has generated a secondary market for enterprising people who will make some money until the wheels fall off when more coal power stations close. SA has clearly demonstrated the failure of the system and they survive with coal power imported from Victoria. Eventually the wind and solar assets and the very expensive transmission system required to connect everything will be stranded.

      As to the larger decarbonization that is supposed to be happening, in the last few years some trillions of dollars have been spent worldwide to reduce the contribution of hydrocarbons to total primary energy from 84% to 82%. With what impact on emissions? It will only get harder as we go further. Meanwhile China and the developing countries are going to burn coal and gas until they get their quality of life up to ours. We may meet them on the way down:)

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      • #
        RickWill

        No matter what happens to the grid in the future, anyone who connects to the grid in the foreseeable future will be paying for ALL the infrastructure that goes into making intermittents functional. They are sunk costs with a guaranteed return. That is how network costs are recovered.

        Wholesale electricity costs in NSW make up about 20% of the total retail price. Those network costs will still exist even if there was a magic wand to change all generation to coal fired. Existing batteries are sunk costs and can still make an income on price arbitrage – any income is economic as long as it covers the operating costs. The capital has been spent and is unrecoverable. Gas generators for peak lopping will become less attractive as gas prices continue to rise.

        What I found interesting in the ISP that was undertaken some years ago was the willingness of distributers to support distributed solar. Whether they could see the economic merit of generation located at the load or that they could increase their business by meeting the rising capacity demand for sending power up the grid, I do not know. But they were pushing for distributed solar rather than grid scale projects.

        There will be decades before the tide turns and I doubt Australia will build another coal fired plant. It is cheaper for Australia to send coal to China nd have it converted to solar panels that are returned and then get mounted on Australian roofs. A change back to all dispatchable generation in Australia will rely on currently unknown generation technology.

        39

        • #
          Kalm Keith

          Unbelievable.

          How can you so blithely dismiss the obvious market rearrangement that tries to hide the actual costs of “renewables”?

          At the moment, coal fired power plants far and away outperform the renewables in any true engineering analysis.

          Renewables are an economic burden on the nation, they are an environmental nightmare and completely unreliable for users.

          Any self respecting engineer could easily construct three cities, on paper, that are powered exclusively by either Coal generation, Solar plants and Wind Turbines.

          Engineers would also be obliged to include full cradle to grave costs going from bare paddock and back at the end.

          There’s only one unsubsidized winner; coal, and it beats nuclear by a significant margin at the moment. Those both beat renewables by a huge margin.

          Let’s look for the truth about this; it’s not in the renewables option.

          KK

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          • #
            RickWill

            How can you so blithely dismiss the obvious market rearrangement that tries to hide the actual costs of “renewables”?

            I have highlighted the costs and make the point they are sunk costs. They are forcing up transmission and distribution costs in dramatic ways and the government guaranteed cost recovery process is not going to change. No matter what happens with generation, those costs are baked in now.

            The electrical grid in Australia has changed, and is continuing to change, to cope with intermittent generation. The cost recovery process is set in stone and government guaranteed. Wholesale electricity price is an ever reducing fraction of the total retail cost of electricity.

            00

    • #
      Lance

      So, let me see if I understand your statements.

      “As long as I can benefit from the pain of others, it is all good.” That’s what you said in net effect. If gaming reality upon the backs of others works for me, then all is well. That works right up until it doesn’t.

      How about you rethink the situation and “get real” with the “reality” that your “game” runs out whenever the rest of the population realizes they are subsidizing your success?

      The transmission/distribution costs you complain about are a direct result of RE generation. The FCAS costs are as well.

      If RE was such a wonderful thing, then why have rates and costs increased? Weren’t costs supposed to go down?

      The “end game” is when there is a grid collapse because of all this unstable bullcrap and the inability of the remaining synchronous generators to overcome the problems caused by intermittent generation.

      Today, it is a game for those who want to play. Tomorrow, it will be a nightmare for the general populace who have to deal with the manifest failure of RE to do what we know they cannot do: Dispatch grid scale power as a Load following resource in real time, with adequate reactive power, voltage control and frequency control. RE is nothing but a political parasite upon an otherwise well functioning system. To pretend otherwise is denial, arrogance or ignorance.

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      • #
        RickWill

        You can view it how you like but I have adopted a pragmatic approach to the reality of the situation. I do not pay more taxes than is required and I take opportunity of government incentives on offer if they provide personal benefits.

        It is obvious to me that the grid is in a downward spiral. That happened the first time an intermittent generator was permitted to connect. Wind and solar offer no benefit of scale. There is already an economic case for suburban residential properties in Australia to go off grid. The case will get even better as the penetration of intermittents on the grid increases with ever rising costs for transmission and all the other add ons.

        The sad reality of modern life is that the majority of people think that climate models produce something useful. Go to Canberra and suggest to anyone you meet in the street that climate models are less than worthless. These are the people responsible for the development of the electricity grid.

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        • #
          Lance

          Ok. That is rational thinking. Pragmatism is a valuable thing. Soften the inevitable collapse.

          Thank you for explaining that. I’m not judging you and have no right to do that, but I’m trying to understand.

          You’ve provided a valuable insight.

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          • #
            RickWill

            Pragmatism is a valuable thing.

            Probably the flip side of zealotry where beliefs override understanding.

            I have created new knowledge on how Earth’s energy balance is achieved – essentially two temperature limiting processes; one on ocean heat uptake at 30C and the other heat loss at -1.8C. The new knowledge is detailing the process of deep convection. I determined the physics of that process and have even provided the CSIRO with the information and their obvious climate model flaws but they do not want to know.
            http://www.bomwatch.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Bomwatch-Willoughby-Main-article-FINAL.pdf

            There is a point where you simply go with the flow unless it is completely unpalatable. The flow on grid power meanders and is an interesting ride – I have a technical interest in on-grid and off-grid power. Reality is a tough task master and the Germans are getting a good dose of reality now. Australia is better placed from a natural energy perspective. Australia is flat out getting enough people to mine our mineral wealth and send it to China for conversion; providing medical and aged care and looking after tourists as well as the business of government that gobbles an increasing portion of our creative effort with little to show for it. Australia is the best continent to extract energy from the weather – rich in wind, solar and vast open spaces. If we have to eventually come to rely on it then it can produce more energy out than in and still give a reasonable standard of living. Maybe the only continent where that is possible.

            I now know that I can certainly live without grid power much like I live without public transport. It would be challenging for us to live without municipal water supply. I have lived in a few suburban locations that were unsewered so it is a service that can be eliminated. I have actually lived off grid in early childhood but that lacked the overall convenience of modern day living and was a family choice for matter of weeks each year rather than necessity.

            With my pragmatic approach to energy, I have operated a suburban house without any energy costs for the past 5 years. That is courtesy of a substantial subsidy on electricity for being an early adopter of rooftop 11 years ago. The subsidy continues for two more years. 5 years ago I installed a wood burner that allows me to get rid of wood from the block that I would otherwise chip. I also had access to wood on my son’s nearby property but since he moved I collect extra wood from State forests within an hours drive. Wood is a great store of energy. I currently have about 2000kg cut for use, which will provide household warmth for around 1,000 hours.

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            • #
              Peter C

              Thanks Rick.

              Most importantly can you elaborate on your plans to go off grid when the price gets too high?

              I don’t have solar cells, nor anywhere very good to put them. What should I do?

              20

              • #
                RickWill

                Peter
                My decision time on battery will be closer to 2024. There is some prospect of moving from Melbourne to a more rural setting closer to middle son in Tasmania.

                If we stay here I expect I may install a commercial battery. That will depend on the prospect of a return and staying where I am.

                I do not know your circumstances but if you are stuck with only grid power then your only option is to reduce your demand. If you are paying for gas and electric services then there may be merit in dropping gas. I think gas prices are only going up.

                Lighting is almost negligible and is usually LEDs. In Victoria LED lights are offered free.
                House insulation is important for energy demand. We do not have double glazing but do have good curtains and shutters to manage heat and cooling requirements. All external doors seal well.
                Trees make a big difference to heating and cooling requirements.
                Modern appliances are more energy efficient than older appliances. The energy demand of appliances should be considered at the time of purchase. The standby demand on some electrical items is significant in the overall energy used.
                Solar assisted water heater might be a value option if you have limited roof space. I have not looked at heat pump water heater in the last 5 years but none were recommended back then.

                The best place to start is to know where all your energy is going. Then do a value analysis on the options to reduce consumption. It would make economic sense for us to go all electric now that we have the wood burner but my wife prefers gas cooktop over any electric options so I am stuck with the gas service.

                I did the energy analysis before I retired and undertook investments that offered a return. The wood heater was always on the list but a bit slower to get there than most other stuff. Most of the trees on our land are now 20 years old and produce a lot of wood. I have a 12kW chipper that I hardly use since installing the wood burner.

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      yarpos

      Pretty irrelevant waffling about component costs and sunk costs when we are headed towards a supply crisis unless governments wake up quite soon.

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      • #
        RickWill

        You will be paying for the sunk costs on transmission and distribution while ever you are taking grid power in Australia. They are baked in and will continue to rise as the grid is adapted, at high cost, to cope with intermittent generation.

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    TdeF

    “will not prevent system collapse on windless nights unless there is 100% of conventional power available”

    Even if we were able to switch to 100% wind power, we cannot afford to decommission a single thermal power station. Tell that to the Premiers of SA, Vic and NSW.

    And without the appalling dishonest and fundamentally illegal compulsory RET scheme which doubles incomes from wind and solar while doubling the cost of coal and gas and diesel, no one would buy expensive, flakey wind and solar power. Unreliables and unfixables are a money pit, which is where they will all end up.

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      RickWill

      Even if we were able to switch to 100% wind power, we cannot afford to decommission a single thermal power station.

      SA has decommissioned its only coal fired power station. Victoria has decommissioned one of its coal fired power stations. NSW is not far from decommissioning one of its coal fired power stations. So Premiers will probably go on doing what they have been doing and expect engineers to come up with technical solutions.

      The dispatchable requirement is being met with a mix of gas, hydro and batteries. Batteries are currently the fastest growing dispatchable source. Gas generation was the lowest in Q4 2021 since 2003.

      The price volatility due to intermittent generation guarantees a solid income for any battery installation. Most days there is around $300/MWh to be made out of price arbitrage. That will recover the cost of a battery without even considering the cost recovery through FCAS payments.

      In the present overcast and low wind conditions across Australia, the price is heading toward the $14,300/MWh during the even peak. If the battery operator can jag about 100 of those excursion for a discharge cycle, they will have their battery paid for. And price volatility will increase as the Premiers shut down more dispatchable plant.

      Coal station will have to be paid a capacity payment to survive. That market will come into place in 2025 and add more to electricity bills.
      https://www.energy.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-12/Capacity%20mechanism%20scope%20of%20works%20document%20-%20December%202021a.pdf

      These things are baked in now. They are not easily reversed:

      The NEM is rapidly transitioning to a lower-emissions generation profile, characterised by higher levels of near-zero marginal cost variable renewable generation. The draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) step change (central) scenario forecasts a transformation in the NEM, consisting of a significant investment in renewable generation, storage, and firming generation, with coal plant exiting by 2043. The modelling anticipates a near doubling of electricity consumed from the grid as transport, heating, cooking and industrial processes are electrified; construction of nine times the NEM’s current utility-scale wind and solar generation capacity; and treble the firming capacity that can respond to a dispatch signal.

      All coal gone by 2043!

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      • #
        TdeF

        “rapidly transitioning to a lower-emissions generation profile”

        What rubbish from a National Energy grid we didn’t need. Everything was fine until ultra Green public servants in Canberra nationalized energy so they could control it.

        It’s all fantasy, cost piled on cost to cover fact that it doesn’t work but if you keep throwing money at it and making people rich, you can pretend it’s all working. Just like Germany, Japan and increasingly, America. But Germany and Japan have just woken up. They can cover the planet in windmills and not succeed, at any price. There is no replacing fossil fuels except nuclear and even that is very limited.

        And when you hear politicians talk about future technologies saving the day, duck and hide. Your wallet. Consensus science is being replaced by a Cargo Cult of new technology to come. And windmills are the new Easter Island statues, the new Henges, the new pyramids of utter uselessness.

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  • #

    Nothing comes from nothing. Intermittent is the operative word.
    When the wind ain’t blowing those intermittent turbines jest stand there
    doing NOTHING.

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      OldOzzie

      Or Go Green with an EV – forget about where Electricity comes from

      Family home is destroyed and cat killed after Tesla catches fire while charging in garage

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      Graeme No.3

      No, they are drawing electricity from the grid. (Keeps the computer controls functioning as they wait for wind. The blades also have to be turned occasionally to maintain bearings – nothing new about that, big ships often turn their propellers over (slowly) while berthed in harbour).

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      • #
        Lance

        Turning of cantilevered shafts is to prevent Brinneling of a stationary bearing.

        https://treehozz.com/what-causes-brinelling-on-a-bearing

        If the shaft of a wind turbine “sits there”, then it causes a dent in the bearing race. That dent becomes a catastrophic failure point if rotational stress induces any kind of cyclic fatigue failure.

        So, Wind Turbines require grid powered turning, gearbox heating, etc, so they might further destabilize the grid that keeps them alive. Yes, it is true.

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      • #

        I should have said ‘doing nothing *positive*.’

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    • #
      Peter C

      Nothing Comes from Nothing.

      I was at first reminded of the love song by Maria and Captain Von Trap in “The Sound of Music” film.

      However the idea is older and more profound:

      Nothing comes from nothing (Latin: ex nihilo nihil fit) is a philosophical expression of a thesis first argued by Parmenides. It is associated with ancient Greek cosmology, such as is presented not just in the works of Homer and Hesiod, but also in virtually every internal system—there is no break in-between a world that did not exist and one that did, since it could not be created ex nihilo in the first place.

      Parmenides

      The idea that “nothing comes from nothing”, as articulated by Parmenides, first appears in Aristotle’s ‘Physics:

      https://www.parmenides.me/nothing-comes-from-nothing

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    William

    Unfortunately the renewables sheeples wilfully ignore logic and empirical data and facts that challenge their belief system. In many cases I have given up trying to reason with idiots who parrot the words of the renewable snake oil salesmen and somehow have a belief that wind and solar can power a modern economy.

    They refuse to even see that in Europe, Germany, England and others aren’t calling for more renewables as the Russian crisis expands, they are looking to coal, gas and nuclear power. Nor is Japan expanding renewables rather it is looking to reboot nuclear to prevent an energy crisis as energy becomes the new weapon in warfare.

    I can see how cults can be formed and manipulated by the unscrupulous for their own benefit. Renewable zealots are alarmist zombies.

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  • #
    Peter

    Is there a good reason to use drought instead of lull?

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    • #
      Graeme No.3

      It comes from the German word. A “tribute” to their insanity??

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      yarpos

      the semantics matter how?

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      • #
        Peter

        Because in Science and Engineering, precision matters, particularly precision of language.

        Metaphors can be useful, particularly for describing a complex mechanism in simple terms, but can be harmful when describing a simple mechanism with terms that don’t properly apply.

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    Greg in NZ

    To quote a 1970s Greek pop song:

    My friend, the wind, will come from the hills…

    Venti, Aeolus, Amun, Enlil, Ao – names for the invisible yet powerful ‘mover’ – the wind. Uncontrollable in mythological times (sacrifices sometimes helped) and today, similarly beyond man’s grasping hands (but hey, loads of free money!).

    If I know the direction of the wind – from whence it hails – and its velocity, my 3- to 5-day prognosis is as good as, if not better, than Metservice’s or NIWA’s or the BoM. The ‘professionals’ only mention wind when there’s a gale-force cyclone or snow blizzard on the way (tie-down your trampolines and small livestock!). Reading the clouds, or nephology, aids in ‘seeing’ what the weather will bring. We all need to talk more about the wind, or lack of it.

    My friend, the wind, go back to the hills…

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    Serge Wright

    There is almost a comical irony here – instead of fearing large storms and cyclones we will fear calm weather. I can already see the news headlines of “State of emergency declared after calm weather and clouds crash the grid, causing a national system black with $billion losses”.

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  • #
    Peter Fitzroy

    Wind Droughts? in a grid the size of the east coast of Australia. Next you will be calling cloudy days ‘Sun Droughts’

    do you think that this will be news to those windfarms or the grid operators?

    Yes, wind and solar is less reliable and less capacity compared to coal gas or nuclear, but wind and solar do not have the climate and pollution impacts of the fossil or nuclear fuel industries.

    However, to pretend that in a mixed grid (including hydro, batteries, peaking gas) that wind and solar can not do the work required is chicken little stuff

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    • #
      Forrest Gardener

      These are not the droids you are looking for.

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    • #
      Ronin

      At 15:30, wind on the NEW graph, ie all the East Coast, is contributing a blazing 6% of demand, way to go.

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    • #
      yarpos

      Dont really observe the weather much then.

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    • #
      b.nice

      Oh dear.. you really haven’t paid any attention to the number of time that wind energy is basically zero across the whole of the eastern grid, have you.

      To do any good in a grid system, wind and solar have to be backed up 120% plus by reliable on-demand supplies, AND have huge amounts of highly expensive batteries etc installed.

      Why not just have one solid reliable system and stop wasting all the tax-payers money on pipe dreams, unicorn farts and other fantasies.

      Currently, wind is providing only 4% across the whole NEM

      SA, postcard for Australian “renewable energy…. is 76% gas, and .. 6% diesel. One has to laugh out loud !

      The whole “renewables” thing is a crazy sort of farce, that could only happen is a world gone totally loopy with anti-science.

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      • #
        b.nice

        Now 7:03pm east coast time

        SA is 84% GAS and 4% diesel… battery has basically run out… already, even after being charged by mostly gas electricity.

        NEM is 73% fossil fuel, 20% Hydro

        Wind remains well and truly in the “why bother” percentages. And solar.. zero of course.

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      • #
        b.nice

        9:20pm SA

        Wind actually contributing a bit, so they have turned off their diesel generators.

        Interconnects providing about 1.5 times what wind is.

        Gas still providing 83% of the small amount SA is generating.

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    • #
      Rafe Champion

      Have you seen the documentary film “Planet of the Humans”? That is a wakeup call to the RE industry.

      Have a good look at the environmental impact of RE as well.

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    GreatAuntJanet

    The ‘gelding’of the oil and gas industry in Canada, in favour of renewables – entertaining little video from Saskatchewan

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  • #
    Ian George

    Slightly OT but does anyone know when the BoM changed the cyclone intensity categories from Saffir/Simpson to Aust Cyclone Severity Scale. We have Cat 1 cyclones measuring 65kmph rather than the S/S scale of 90kmph. Does that mean we’ll have more cyclones or will all the earlier ones be updated?

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    • #
      William

      What will likely happen is that historic cyclones will have their wind speeds standardised to create a benchmark data base. This homogenisation may require wind speeds and damages for earlier cyclones to be corrected as very clearly, old storms cannot be be more dangerous than today’s CO2 powered monsters so their windspeeds must have been overstated. Perhaps it will be the ACORN-cyclone severity 1 Data Base.

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      • #
        William

        I should add that to maintain BOM standards, the wind speeds will be homogenised against wind speeds measured 2000 kilometres away.

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        • #
          Ian George

          Yes, William, that’s par for the course – they do that for the temps.
          However, it seems that after checking previous cyclones that BoM have used the same scale (although prior to 1970 it is difficult to establish as many cyclones have no information recorded). Nowadays, cyclonic winds are measured by satellites (Dvorak) rather than the land and ship wind anemometers used in the past. This always gives a higher wind speed thus can result in a cyclone being classed in a higher category. Cyclone Debbie was listed as a category 4 although I remember ATT the highest wind speed was 132kmph at Middle Percy Island. There is also some recognition of wind gusts rather than sustained winds which comes into the BoM’s calculations.

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  • #
    Neville

    Thanks for the article and the comments. Amazing that most people don’t understand any of this data and evidence.
    And these types will happily vote for Labor or the Greens in a couple of months.
    BTW that small hybrid King Island system is very unreliable and again has wind at 19%, solar 1%, battery ZIP and Diesel generator 60%.

    https://www.hydro.com.au/clean-energy/hybrid-energy-solutions/success-stories/king-island

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    • #
      David Maddison

      Amazing that most people don’t understand any of this data and evidence.

      Most people here don’t appreciate the staggering stupidity of the Sheeple.

      For example, today I saw somebody trying to do a rapid antigen test and she was rubbing the swab against the outside of her cheek. I explained it had to go on the inside…

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      • #
        Ronin

        ‘For example, today I saw somebody trying to do a rapid antigen test and she was rubbing the swab against the outside of her cheek. I explained it had to go on the inside…’

        Australian version of Walmart people.

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  • #
    Ronin

    I found this interesting, I hope you can use it.
    Wind speed is given in meters/second, as it appears on some windmill sites.
    Windmill cut in speed 3 to 4m/sec.
    ” cut out speed 24.5 m/sec.
    ” reset speed 20 m/sec.
    Something else I didn’t know, windmills need power available to cut in if there’s been an upset involving a trip, power needed to yaw into wind, set blade pitch and close circuit breakers, it’s also a safety feature just like our rooftop solar panels.

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    • #
      David Maddison

      Engineering considerations are irrelevant.

      The only consideration is: are they still capable of harvesting subsidies?

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    David Maddison

    What are they teaching in engineering schools these days?

    Unreliables cannot possibly pass as a viable properly engineered system, yet a lot of “engineers” are apparently prepared to work on them and ignore basic engineering principles.

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    • #
      yarpos

      “I could have never have known so well how paltry men are, and how little they care for really high aims, if I had not tested them by my scientific researches. Thus I saw that most men only care for science so far as they get a living by it, and that they worship even error when it affords them a substance.” Goethe

      I have been guilty of this in corporate life. I know what I am being told to do is complete BS and will end in tears, but I know you will pay me exceedingly well to execute this disaster on time and on budget. Part self preservation , part malicious compliance. Happily the carnage was inflicted on a company that could well afford and not society in general. Only when you get to a more senior level can you have the “this is an extremely courageous decision boss” discussion.

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    • #
      Ronin

      “What are they teaching in engineering schools these days?”

      Most likely they are well trained but knowing the project is a bomb and risking their neck by sticking it out, they persist knowing/hoping it’s their boss who will take the fall.

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      • #
        PeterS

        Exact same excuse used by many scientists for CAGW and many doctors for COVID-19. Not good enough I’m afraid, not unless one actually desires we eventually crash and burn.

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  • #
    Ronin

    Using basic electrical engineering principles, uncontrolled generation such as S&W would not be allowed on the grid, only clean dispatchable power permitted, but we are in interesting times as we shall find out in a few years time.

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    b.nice

    Some really good commentary on the utter brainlessness of the US Democrat anti-CO2 “green deal” agenda.

    https://www.cfact.org/2022/03/27/bidens-plan-to-starve-america-of-fossil-fuels/

    The are closing down all their own mining, oil, fossil fuels etc, even the things needed to build the things they say they want to build (1000’s of wind turbines, and expecting that they will get the huge amount of materials needed to “build back worse” from “somewhere else”.

    Its all so incredibly dumb that you can only assume that Arkham has let loose all its inmates and installed them as Democrat politicians.

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    Ronin

    It is to be hoped that the people voting in this Federal election are taking note of what the Left are doing worldwide, this is full on idiocy, they’ve got bats in the belfry and they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.

    Just wait till Albanese gets his sticky fingers on the levers of power, almost all the Rudd, Gillard, Shorten failures are there just waiting to square the ledger in their favour.

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    • #
      Hanrahan

      But the lukewarm conservatives cry “But ScoMo isn’t perfect, how can you vote for him”.

      I’m old and my memory is supposed to be failing but I remember well how under Rudd/Gillard our Border Patrol craft bloody escorted illegals to Christmas Is. Tony gave them an unsinkable life boat with, I assume, a compass that could not point south and a fuel tank that couldn’t be opened and torched and pointed them from whence they came. Absolutely brilliant.

      So libs dumped their best ever PM IMHO because their ABC didn’t like him.

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      • #
        Hanrahan

        Are the same lukewarmers STILL listening to the ABC?

        I hope they enjoy Albo, the reincarnation of Rudd/Gillard.

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  • #
    Ronin

    Wind power on the NEM, a staggering 1.8% of total demand.

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  • #
    UK-Weather Lass

    Here, in the UK, we have no lack of windy weather except when a high pressure weather system sits itself over our islands and remains there for some time. Of course it can be too windy and the turbines cannot function safely. It is constant weather change that creates wind power’s intermittency and unreliability.

    As I mentioned in another post the problem with wind is not the turbine it is the simple fact that there is no energy storage provision to make the technology complete and purposeful. And making a battery powerful enough to store a lot of energy is beyond our technology unless we convert the turbine power to pump water into a hydroelectric scheme. Such technology was applied to smaller systems in Scotland where the terrain invited the use of hydroelectric schemes, but that terrain is not so easily found in the rest of the UK where control of water is more critical to avoid harm to populated areas.

    Dale Vince, founder of the Stroud based company, Ecotricity, boasts that wind power already provides the UK with twelve times our energy needs. Of course he doesn’t mention the small problem of how you store any excess electricity for the times that A) the energy is needed, and B) the energy is needed but the wind isn’t blowing. He doesn’t tell anyone how he intends to harness all that power in a safe and sensible way with the technology to connect and power the grid with baseload on demand. Baseload generation is not his specialty although he has made a lot of money out of wind, solar and biomass. His company made a loss in 2019 on revenues exceeding £193m but he does not appear to understand why his claims about ‘twelve times UK needs’ is specious in the extreme because he goes unchallenged by the politicians and the woke. He also claims that nuclear receives much more subsidy than wind and solar and is therefore more expensive. He doesn’t mention that at least nuclear, even at small scale, can generate baseload on demand. Is Dale Vince a snake oil salesperson? I leave that for you to work out.

    That is the unfortunate position the UK is in. Because these ‘green’ entrepreneurs and cheerleaders are allowed to tell porky pies unchallenged by an equally misinforming media we have made big and costly mistakes no one in our ruling classes will admit to since they have been party to them. No one wants to risk stepping out of line. Or perhaps there is a secondary reason.

    We know there has been much fraud in our SARS-CoV-2 mitigation and it remains very obvious to some experts that there is the same corruption present in the so called renewable market which is why we continue to get things wrong. Hopefully we will see a U-turn on fracking which will benefit other countries and not just the UK. It seems a long time since we last exported an energy source because we missed the golden opportunity of exploiting nuclear midway through the 20th C.

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