JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Approaching a tipping point in the power supply

Guest post by Rafe Champion

We are installing wind and solar power at a great rate and the expectation is that this will go on and RE will increasingly penetrate the system as coal power fades away. In the SE we still have just enough conventional power to get by almost all the time but the tipping point will come when we lose another couple of coal stations and we will need to have a continuous supply of RE. There will not be enough conventional power to keep the lights on through windless nights. The point is that RE can DISPLACE coal power but not REPLACE it.

Note from Jo: With the sad demise of Catallaxy, I invited Rafe to continue here blogging about energy and electricity in Australia. So the format of the blog will flex somewhat to try to fill some of that void.

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Big batteries could be bigger bombs than Beirut Fertilizer

Sudden tragic release of stored chemical energy in Beirut

It turns out storing Megawatts of high density energy in a confined space is “like a bomb”. Who could have seen that coming, apart from everyone who understands what a megawatt is?

Clean, green, noisy and explosive.

And they are “unregulated” in the UK.

GWPF

UK’s giant battery ‘farms’ spark fears of explosions that can reach temperatures of 660C

Amy Oliver Mail on Sunday

…according to a troubling new report from leading physicists, these vast batteries amount to electrical bombs with the force of many hundreds of tons of TNT.

With the potential for huge explosions, fires and clouds of toxic gas, they could devastate towns and villages nearby, says Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University and co-author of the report.

The batteries, designed as reservoirs of spare electricity for when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine, are spreading around the British countryside. And this, says Prof Allison and his fellow scientists, could spell catastrophe.

It’s like a potential bomb,’ he says. ‘When batteries catch fire, you can’t just squirt water on […]

Wind power “headed for disaster” in Germany

Is this the future of wind all over the world? The salad days of wind power in Germany are over. Bad news is rolling in from several directions. Twenty years of hope-n-subsidies has run aground. Profits are grinding down, and hardly any new towers are being erected. People are fighting back against the noise, the views, and the bird chopping. Conservationists might like the idea of wind, as long as it’s in someone else’s forest. Suddenly groups that oppose wind towers are gaining traction, and the red tape and legal battles have grown wings and settled on new developments like a bat plague.

New turbines are now supposed to be two kilometers from any home, and there just isn’t enough spare land to build them on. German wind farms are running out of Germany.

If only they were profitable and provided an essential service, they might still have friends.

Wind energy in crisis as expansion stalls in Germany

Alex Reichmuth; Nebelspalter, via GWPF

Lengthy planning and approval procedures stand in the way of the expansion of wind energy. There is too little designated space for possible locations and too many lawsuits against projects. The resistance to […]

Nothing shows how pathetic solar and battery power are like the pitiful celebrations

Strap yourself in: Solar Power and batteries made a whole town 100% renewable (for 80 minutes).

It’s an Australian first! Put out a press release. No seriously, they did:

Solar and battery microgrid takes WA town to 100% renewables in Australian first

Western Australia has again demonstrated its remote renewable energy generation chops, after successfully powering the Pilbara town of Onslow entirely on a combination of large and small-scale solar and battery storage for a total of 80 minutes.

Only 520,000 minutes short of a whole year.

“The milestone achievement was announced by WA energy minister Bill Johnston on Friday morning after being demonstrated by state government-owned regional utility Horizon Power, which established the solar and storage microgrid next to an existing gas plant.”

Onslow is a metropolis of 847 people sited in one of the sunniest zones in one of the sunniest countries in the world. With at least 3650 hours of sun a year, Onslow vies for a top ten position globally.

If solar power was going to make it anywhere, this would be it. But we all know what keeps the lights on in Onslow and it isn’t solar power.

The […]

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 […]

Fifty years of failed renewables predictions

For five decades, experts have been predicting renewable energy would supply 20 – 50% of the US Electricity Grid. Instead it’s taken twice as long to get to one fifth of the original prediction. (And to get to that pitiful 10%, that includes Hydropower).

Renewable Energy is the wordsmiths Great Hopium. The seductive temptation of “free energy” rolls on, never mind about the vast infrastructure and land it takes to capture a low density energy source. The price for “free fuel” is expensive maintenance, costly transmission, extra stability charges, and eye-bleeding storage costs (or an entire national spare grid for “back up?”).

For fifty years people have been overestimating the renewables transition.

The graphs comes from the JPMorgan, Energy Review. Even back in 1970, the need for 24 hour supply and frequency stability were well known.

A search online did not find a copy anywhere of Bent Sorensen’s original 1970-ish prediction, but it did find about 500 articles and nine of his books, showing that if at first you don’t succeed, you can make a career out of it.

Joe Biden is also marching down Failure Boulevard:

What are the odds?

Globally we used to get […]

Wednesday’s mass failure of $20 billion worth of Wind power in Australia

What grows on a wind “farm” ? Debt-cows

On Wednesday nearly all the wind generators in the country failed. About 4,000 turbines across five states of Australia were hit by some kind of simultaneous fuel crisis. At one point all the wind power in our national grid was only making 3% of Australia’s electricity, and that was the best part of the day. At its worst, all those turbines produced about 1.2% of the power we needed. It was that bad.

Across the nation, something like $15 to $20 billion dollars of infrastructure ground to a halt.

Welcome to the clean green energy future:

The black line in this image is the total power generation across the day, and that equates equally to power consumption across the day. The green colour rolling along the bottom is wind generation, all of it, across the day. Who pays for the battery back up for these dysfunctional non-farms?

As Rafe Champion would say — it was a “choke point” all day.

It would be nice to believe this incident was due to all the old failing wind towers that used to be reliable workhorses. If only. Then there would be hope […]

Germany shuts too much coal, lasted 8 days without them, now admits they can’t close them

Emden, Germany by Gritte

On January 1st, Germany shut 11 coal fired plants with about 4.7GW of generating power — supposedly as a part of the Big Phaseout. But eight days later the wind wasn’t blowing and according to Pierre Goslin the system got so unstable that the managers had to turn back on some of the coal power.This on-off-cycle repeated so many times that one large plant — Heyden –was restarted six times in the next eight weeks.

The Federal Network Agency have reclassified the four of the big plants as “system relevant” which means they have to hang around on standby ready to rescue the grid at any time. So the largest efficient and cheap generators on the grid will be paid to sit around waiting for the unreliable expensive energy to fail.

2021 German Coal Plant “Phaseout” Lasted Only 8 Days…Put Back Online To Stabilize Shaky Grid

The Federal Network Agency has now confirmed that it has reclassified the Heyden, Datteln, Walsum 9 and Westfalen power plants, which had already been shut down, as system-relevant and that they now must remain […]

Africa to double coal fired power by 2030

In the next ten years, Australia will close a couple of coal plants, while Africa will build 1250.

Africa is going to double its energy and almost all the increase is coming from fossil fuels. This is hard to explain, given that renewables are “free” and Africa is poor. But at the end of the decade unreliable renewables will still make less than 10% of the energy in Africa.

Thanks to the GWPF:

Fossil fuels to dominate Africa’s energy mix this decade – report

Power Engineering International

A new study into Africa’s energy generation landscape uses a state-of-the-art machine-learning technique to analyse the pipeline of more than 2,500 planned power plants and their chances of successful commission.

African power generation, 2030, graph.

The study predicts that in 2030, fossil fuels will account for two-thirds of all generated electricity across Africa. While an additional 18% of generation is set to come from hydro-energy projects. These have their own challenges, such as being vulnerable to an increasing number of droughts caused by climate change.

This is only the start. Most countries in Africa are not even in the race yet:

South […]

Time to boycott Slave-made Solar Panels?

How many Australian houses are covered in the trappings of slave labor? The EU has discovered some ethical rats inhabit their roofs.

Tim Blair spots some turbo-powered hypocrisy among those that normally lecture the rest of us on ethical consumerism.

Solar: Slavery Sourced, Green Endorsed, Tax Subsidised

Ethically-sourced food, clothing, coffee and even magical healing crystals are a big draw to concerned green types, who profess to worry deeply about the origin of anything they buy.

But the same types aren’t too fussed over the origins of their holy solar panels.

Indeed. Awkward news came out last month that “Nearly every solar power panel sold in the European Union has its origins in China’s oppressed Xinjiang region.”

Fears over China’s Muslim forced labor loom over EU solar power

Politico

Panels include components produced in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, where there are concerns about forced labor camps for Muslim minorities, including Uighurs.

The solar industry and Brussels lawmakers argue Europe’s renewable energy push should not come at a human cost amid long-standing international concern over reports China has detained 1 million people with Muslim backgrounds in camps […]