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More bad luck! Snowy Hydro can’t run much because it has *too much water*

Would you like blackouts or floods with your Green Burger?

Hydro power station no. 3 Snowy scheme

Tumut Generation Station No. 3 Snowy scheme | Joe “velojo” A

Here in Weather-Dependent Renewable World the chief crash test dummy is struggling because of yet another bit of terrible luck. We desperately need the only reliable renewable energy we have to generate while reliable but-badly-maintained-coal is breaking — and our national grid sits on the edge of blackouts.  But Lordy No! Oh the schadenfreude — the dams are all full. Seems we have too much water thanks to the La Nina we didn’t predict, and the excess rainfall that wasn’t supposed to happen, and the dams that weren’t supposed to fill. Now if Snowy Hydro releases too much water to make electricity they may flood lower areas.

You can’t make this stuff up. Hydroelectric dams serve two purposes and sometimes they conflict. If we are lucky, we might avoid both blackouts and floods, but we won’t avoid the bonfire of electricity bills that are coming.

Ponder the impossible quandry of the Green religion. Like the Escher puzzle of Energy — It’s always the weather’s fault. If only we could use enough renewables to get perfect weather we could solve this! And perfect weather is just a hundred trillion solar panels away…

 

Snowy Hydro’s water problem shows how weather is a driver of the energy crisis

ABC News

As Australia’s power crisis began to ramp up early this month, Snowy Hydro was called on to increase production.

But the hydro-electric generator remains significantly constrained by a surprising problem — too much water.

Oh woe is the journalist trying hard not to get the message about relying on weather dependent generation:

It’s only one example of how weather extremes have deepened the nation’s man-made power crisis.

Snowy Hydro’s biggest power station is Tumut 3. At maximum output, it can generate 1,800 megawatts of electricity.

The huge volumes of water used by Tumut 3 are either pumped back up the hill to an upper reservoir or emptied into Blowering Dam.

“Generation from Tumut 3 Power Station is significantly constrained by the current storage levels in Blowering Reservoir and the release capacity of the Tumut River. “In order to meet the predicted energy demands in the coming days, it is possible Blowering Reservoir will fill and spill, potentially exceeding the Tumut River channel capacity. “In this scenario, there is potential for the inundation of low-level causeways and water breaking out of the river channel onto agricultural land adjacent to the river.”

Green motto: If in doubt, blame the weather. Never ever admit it was your own arrogant damn stupidity, your fantasy plans, your lack of humility and your inability to add up.

The real world is so complicated

Ben Kefford at LinkedIn does an analysis that explains the dilemma for the generators bidding. In this case Snowy Hydro was afraid that when the Administrative price cap was forced on the system that many other generators would withdraw (which happened). That would leave them pumping far too much water — and risk the flooding in lower areas. To stop the flooding they would have to pay exorbitant daytime rates to pump water back up to the higher dam at blistering prices above $250/MWh. Normally, like a battery, they try to buy-low, sell-high, in terms of finding cheaper parts of the day to run the pumps. But at the moment, there are no cheap hours.

And then there was the possibility that those dollars would not be recouped for up to five months leaving them with a cash shortfall of millions:

While it is true that there is a compensation mechanism via AEMC for recovering opportunity costs lost via generating during administered pricing periods, the actual methodology for calculating storage opportunity costs is not clear, and the mechanism has been rarely used in the past. Notably, under the Rules there is also an upwards of 90 business day (4 – 5 month) delay in determining these costs, including public consultation plus draft and final methodologies.

With an average output capacity of 260 MW in the week leading into the APC, continuing to operate the same way and keep the same price spread would require $18.2 million* in revenue claims per week which are potentially being delayed up to 5 months. Over the unknown period of time which the price cap would remain in place, this turns into a massive liability.

So finally when the APC did hit, not only was Tumut 3 left with little viable economic options for releasing capacity from the upper reservoir, it became evident that the race for the exits from other limited fuel generators was going to put enormous pressure on the lower reservoir if they were called upon. Taking all of this into account – we begin to see that it made unfortunate sense to follow suit.

The bureaucrats designed a poor market then blame the market or the players when they fail. The Greens and renewable-delusionals were blaming the generators for greed and gaming the system — as if they were withholding generation during wildly high priced market times.

These people have no idea.

h/t David B in Cooyal

9.9 out of 10 based on 82 ratings

44 comments to More bad luck! Snowy Hydro can’t run much because it has *too much water*

  • #

    No wonder our failed weather Nostradamus has retired from public life.
    How much Schadenfreude can a non-believing public bear?

    210

  • #
    DLK

    So even the rain that falls isn’t IS actually going to OVER-fill our dams and our river systems

    projection updated.

    210

    • #
      crakar24

      He made his suit case full of case from the gullible and ran away years ago.

      Those very same gullible still frequent this site on occasion hoping for his return some day

      140

  • #
    Hanrahan

    A more mundane Q: As an interested observer where do I look on AEMO site to find Tumut 3 generation, NSW or Vic? They both have a stake in Snowy I believe.

    30

    • #

      https://anero.id/energy/hydro-energy

      Thanks Andrew Miskelly for doing what all our government agencies could not. It’s all there.

      120

      • #
      • #

        Once you get to that link Joanne provided, see that graph, well at top right, click on MW, and that’s the power output from hydro across Australia.

        Now, underneath the graph, and at the bottom of those ‘codes’, untick the boxes for each State and also the Total box as well, and the end result is a blank graph.

        Okay, now go to the top row, and tick the box for Tumut Three.

        What you see here is profiteering, sorry, the output from the Units at that Pumped Hydro plant. They were upgraded from the original 250MW to some at 280MW and some at 300MW. You can see that on the ‘steps’ when you hover your mouse over it.

        Note that it’s only online at the morning peak and the main evening Peak, umm, when the cost of ALL power is so high, and the income from operation is maximised. (the sale of power as the water comes down those huge pipes and across the turbines which drive the generators) The water is pumped back up the hill to the top reservoir when the cost for power is at its cheapest, now in the middle of the day, and in the main utilising coal fired power. (oh, how cool is that, to be making so much money)

        No other site in Australia does this. So let me explain.

        Oh, wait a minute, there is one. See this link here. This is the NEMWEB output, and it is updated every five minutes, See those blue links. Each one each individual one opens up a save box. You save the zip file, and then open it as a Spread sheet. On that spread sheet is each individual power plant from EVERY source across the whole of the AEMO coverage area. The actual output for EACH current five minutes for the power plant is listed……. and then, five minutes later, a whole new spread sheet in a zip file is generated with the next five minutes of data for every one of the 400 PLUS Individual Units and plants.

        Okay then, what Andrew Miskelly has done here is to write his own program to use that data and construct what you see as the output of each power plant of each type in the Country, and just like that SCADA site, Aneroid also operates in ‘real time’ with that same five minute UPDATES. What it does is to put it into a platform more readily accessible, and easier to understand.

        Andrew has all this data for every source of power generation and for every power plant in the Country and it dates back to March of 2014 ….. EVERY single day of that time.

        Now the last time Joanne used this diagram, (and I’m really sorry I have to keep harping on about this guy) Peter Fitzroy, called it a ….. ‘vanity’ site. Okay Peter Fitzroy. Every time you come here and comment it’s a flat out admission that you just have no idea about how to use the Internet, and you get away with it every time. You must really laugh about that, thinking how you get away with it every time. Well Peter, ….. We ‘get it’.

        Until you have even the vaguest comprehension of what has been done by Andrew with that Aneroid site, then you need to look long and hard about what you write about it. There is ….. NO OTHER site in the Country that does anything even approaching what has been done here.

        You could spend years looking at the site, well, I have, and every so often, even I see something new I haven’t seen before.

        Joanne said it correctly ….. what all our Government agencies could not!

        Oh, one last thing here, and back at the Hydro link. Untick Tumut3, so blank graph.

        Now tick just the box for Tasmania, and also the box for Total. The upper line is ALL hydro across the AEMO, and the lower line is all of Tasmania, so that hydro graph, well almost half of all the hydro power generation (probably more even) is just Tasmania. You can also see on that upper line, how hydro ramps up and down with the two main peaks that are so prevalent in Winter.

        Tony.

        330

        • #
          Hanrahan

          Who is the market mover in NSW, AGL?

          I have suspected someone is playing ducks and drakes in that market for some time.

          Somehow I don’t trust the ACCC to find much though.

          60

          • #
            Bruce

            AGL?

            Australian Gas Lighting?

            Gaslighting definition (US):

            : psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator Gaslighting can be a very effective tool for the abuser to control an individual. It’s done slowly so the victim writes off the event as a one off or oddity and doesn’t realize they are being controlled and manipulated.

            50

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      No. As part of Turnbull’s Snow(y) job the Commonwealth bought out the NSW & Vic. shares for (I think) $6 billion, so the Commonwealth owns the lot.
      What happened to the money the States got? Well, there have been elections since.

      I wonder whether anyone has thought of releasing excess water down the Snowy River? There is an annual release for ‘environmental needs”. Would avoid flooding in settled regions.

      70

  • #
    Lawrie

    Looking at the Anero.id site I see many small hydro plants and I wonder how cost effective they are. The other aspect is when they are called on to back up wind and solar they have to release water, water which is used for irrigation. Right now there would be relatively little demand for irrigation so that spent water, I assume, just runs to the sea. This brings up the question of what is more important-electricity or irrigation water. I understand that some spent water ends up in a secondary dam that stores it for later use but as the post points out eventually the secondary dam has to be emptied and that water goes to waste. So Bowens water batteries have flaws too. Just think that with coal you burn just enough to do the job- no surplus, no waste.

    130

    • #
      Lawrie

      I forgot to add- do we now use coal as a back up to hydro by using coal power to pump water back up the hill so we can have green energy when it runs down the hill? The more they tinker the more they screw up. I just want someone to take responsibility and admit they were wrong.

      220

      • #
        Dennis

        Don’t laugh, but Snow Hydro have signed an agreement with a wind turbine installation to provide the electricity for pumping Snowy 02 water uphill.

        10

        • #
          PeterPetrum

          So I suppose they have an extension cord directly from the wind farm to the water turbines, do they? Or do they filter out the coal electrons and just use the wind ones? Can someone advise me?

          30

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    The other possibility might be to convert coal (esp. brown coal) into gas. Mostly carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
    Used to be called Town Gas. That could be burnt or converted into liquid fuels e.g. methanol, butanol or higher alcohols or diesel fuel.
    That would avoid the initial separation of CO2 out for capture & storage (at vast expense) which Do Pi Dan would insist happen.
    Methanol can also be converted into petrol.

    Curiously some people in the UK are thinking of this, due to shortage of natural gas and the high price.

    50

    • #
      PeterPetrum

      Yes, I remember that as a kid in Scotland. And what was left over was known as “coke” and once it was burning (it needed a hot coal fire to star it of) it burnt beautifully and almost smokeless. We had both coal and coke in our outdoor coal house and it kept us nice and warm in our old stone house all winter. Bad luck over there now, I guess!

      20

  • #
  • #
    Hanrahan

    I’ve discussed this with greens on another site and they don’t believe me but all storage makes demand a tad smoother for coal. The only state that may temporally have an oversupply from wind is SA and they have no hydro so everywhere else storage helps an otherwise under-utilised coal burner with a market they would not have, even if small.

    If greens understood that wouldn’t they be hissed?

    31

  • #
    Ronin

    WE all know that wind and solar are duds, now it looks like good old dependable hydro has an Achilles heel too.

    120

    • #
      Chad

      Hydro has many forms, …
      Snowy’s version of river retention dams is ok until you add in the need for Pumping back to reuse the water for energy storage. Then you are limited by dam capacities and environmental regulations for downstream water max and minimum flows .
      So not really a problem with the technology, more a political/ enviromental issue.

      60

      • #
        William

        It will be interesting to see what happens to the dams and downstream when this year’s record snowfall begins to melt.

        21

      • #
        Bruce

        Newtons LAWS determine that there is NO SUCH THING as a Perpetual Motion Machine.

        We are facing an onslaught of terminal cretinism ruthlessly backed by a pure unmitigated MALICE.

        00

  • #
    Richard+Ilfeld

    “The bureaucrats designed” a poor market…
    Hayek was right.
    If you use those words, failure is the only option.

    71

    • #
      David Maddison

      Milton Friedman once said of Friedrich Hayek:

      Over the years, I have again and again asked fellow believers in a free society how they managed to escape the contagion of their collectivist intellectual environment. No name has been mentioned more often as the source of enlightenment than Friedrich Hayek’s.

      62

  • #
    David Maddison

    What is the maximum power that can be produced with water discharged into the Tumut river without causing flooding?

    21

  • #
    David Maddison

    Australia has no lack of supply of energy.

    1) We have a lack of supply of intelligent, caring and competent people in government, both politics and administration. Their loyalty is not with the Australian people but with the UN and WEF and sone of the world’s most evil and corruot people.

    2) Apart from those that post here, we have large numbers of professionals and others who are knowledgeable who might understand what’s going on but don’t have the cojones to speak up.

    3) We have a journalistic class who are mostly clueless, unintelligent and of a Marxist orientation and never ask the questions that need to be asked.

    4) We have a clueless and dumbed-down populace that at some point decided not to be critical thinkers and decided they were going to live in ignorance of the world around them. They tend to believe everything groups 1, 2 and 3 tell them or don’t tell them.

    192

    • #
      Bruce

      Was it not Sir Isaac Newton who, a few years back, had a thing or two to say about “Perpetual Motion”.

      We are facing a concerted assault by the terminally cretinous, forcibly backed by wall to wall MALICE.

      40

  • #
    David Maddison

    If the Snowy Hydro dams are already too full now, what happens at the end of winter when the snow melts?

    71

    • #
      b.nice

      Blowering will be on full allowable release until then. Deep rivers downstream .

      71

      • #
        GlenM

        I lived in Tumut for several years. Lovely spot. Blowering is good for flood mitigation and irrigation as it is the last storage in the Snowy system. The worst floods in Australia’s history were at Gundagai where in the 19th century before Burrinjuck and blowering were built led to hundreds of deaths.

        70

    • #
      another ian

      Aw Come on! Be sporting. Pull the plug and wash a few more carp down to Lake Alexandrina!

      30

    • #
      William

      Posted my comment (above) before I scrolled down to your earlier comment David – I too wonder!

      10

  • #
    Philip

    KISS. Isnt that in engineering 101 around about week 1 lesson 1 ?

    10

  • #
    Stan

    A government-designed “market” is not a market.

    41

    • #
      Daffy

      Now, I was just about to say that! A government designed market is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron…done by real morons. One doesn’t ‘design’ markets, one merely participates in them freely. If this is not one, you are not in a market, but a socialist train wreck.

      81

  • #
    R.B

    A headline in the At Home magazine in Saturday’s paper.

    Soaring electricity prices and global warming have us thinking twice about turning on the heater this season

    it’s lunacy.

    31

  • #
    Dennis

    Soon after the Labor Government of Victoria effectively closed down the brown coal fuelled Hazlewood Power Station with a loss of 20-25 per cent of electricity generator capacity Victoria Government was shocked to discover that Snowy Mountains Hydro dams were very low on water supply and could not guarantee electricity supply.

    Many diesel generators were quickly purchased and located around Victoria, Mornington Peninsular for example and Gippsland Region generally, and other locations.

    31

    • #
      Philip

      That reaction purchasing of diesel generators will extend to households too, many will buy a generator. Im personally eyeing sources of trees for firewood for fuel.

      10

  • #
    Maptram

    Just heard on the afternoon TV news, reliance on fossil fuels is being blamed for last week’s energy problems. Don’t know which channel, I only heard what was said, wasn’t watching the TV.

    Nothing to do with shutting down fossil fuel powered generators and putting greater reliance on unreliable renewable energy

    As has been said before, the journalists believe what they are told and don’t ask the relevant questions.

    30

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