Wild Experiments? Alice Springs fossil fuel grid becomes too unstable with more than 13% solar power

By Jo Nova

Ponder how destructive solar power is: It only takes 13% solar to push a small grid to the edge

A little bit of solar power causes mayhem on a perfectly good grid.

NT Electricity Grid Map (Click to enlarge) Darwin is 1,300 km or 800 miles in a straight line from Alice Springs.

The Renewable Crash Test Dummy Country is aiming to be using 82% renewable electricity by 2030, but instead of making sure this works on a small scale at any one of our remote microgrid locations, where electricity is expensive to start with, we thought we’d do the experiment on the whole nation instead.

So it is “sobering” to see how this fails at Alice Springs. If there was a place on Earth that is well suited to wind and solar power, it surely is Alice Springs which is 1,200 kilometers from the Northern Territory’s main electricity grid. Surrounded by a million square kilometers of largely uninhabited arid land, if we can’t plaster enough solar panels and windmills here to support a town of 25,000 people with no heavy industry to speak of, where can we?

Yet the bare truth is that solar […]

Just as power grids struggle, the AI and EV electricity monsters turn up for breakfast

By Jo Nova

As Western grids are teetering, people are suddenly realizing demand for electricity is about to skyrocket

Unstoppable demands are about to meet immovable rocks. A year ago the grid managers thought they had their five year plans figured out, but now the same experts think we are going to need to add twice as much generation as they did then. The watt-hogs have arrived to chew on some gigawatt hours.

The usual slow grid planning processes are getting upended. Take the US State of Georgia for example. They have scored lots of new electric vehicle and battery factories, a few large “clean energy” manufacturing projects, and have attracted a bunch of energy-sucking data centers, but all of these things add massive loads to the grid.

In the last 22 years demand for electricity hasn’t growth much, so in 2022 Georgia Power were expecting to close their coal fired plants pretty soon, and not even put forward a new plan til 2025. Instead Georgia Power are knocking on the state regulators door to let it expand generation. They’re now expecting winter demand will grow 17 times faster than their previous plan, and summer use will explode to […]

Germany: You will own a car and a heater but you can’t use them

By Jo Nova

Oh the irony — Green heat pumps and EV’s will need to be curtailed on a Green Grid

We’re watching the real time collapse of parts of the “Climate Industry” in on itself. The left eats its own. The EV’s and heat pumps the German government was coercing people to use are so incompatible with unreliable expensive energy, they will be among the first appliances to be restricted in the new clean green economy.

The truth is — Solar and wind power can’t power EV’s. In Germany the network regulator is working on ways to limit electricity to hungry EV’s and heat pumps so they don’t crash the grid.

The federal grid agency will throttle the charging power so EV’s will get just enough charge for a 50 kilometer trip from two hours of charging. Home owners will be offered a discount if they give control of their chargers to the government. Effectively the rich will charge their car or turn on their heater whenever they want. The poor will “save” €110 to €190 they never needed to spend with their old car or their old heater, and go withou electricity at peak times.

EV chargers, […]

New York narrowly missed a disaster last Christmas Eve: gas pipes froze and 127GW of electricity vanished

By Jo Nova

Our cities are more fragile than we imagine

During the winter storm called “Elliott” last Christmas, gas pipes came close to freezing in New York. The gas shortages are not just deadly themselves in cold weather, but more of the electrical network is dependent on gas now rather than coal, and therein lies double jeopardy. As the gas crisis escalated, so did the electrical one: at its worst there were “90,500 megawatts of coincident unplanned generation unit outages, derates and failures… “. This was on top of 37,000 megawatts of generation that was already out of service, so 127 gigawatts in toto*. Some 18% of the normal resources of the Eastern Interconnection was missing.

At 4:25am on Christmas Eve in North Eastern USA the grid frequency fell to 59.936 Hz, just below the trigger point of 59.95 Hz.

If the gas had stopped flowing completely during the big freeze that lasted five days, water pipes would have frozen, and not only would the water stop flowing out of taps, and toilets stop flushing, but pipes would have burst — rendering thousands of apartment blocks and offices unusable, and possibly water damaged too.

Somehow, like a disaster […]

$160,000 worth of wind and solar power with batteries can’t power two homes alone

By Jo Nova

Let’s run an experiment on a whole nation that we can’t even do easily on a single home

Photo | Daily Sceptic,

Imaging scaling this up for a country?

The Daily Sceptic has the story of an Australian farmer in Victoria who has gone off-grid to try to be as self sufficient as he can, not out of ideology, but for pragmatic reasons. He has two 3 bedroom homes, with 30 solar panels and a 1kW wind turbine each. For storage they have about 30 German lead acid batteries which at current prices is about $15,000 of batteries each. But even so, each house still has bottled gas stoves, and a 6 kVA petrol generator. The generators are set to come on when the batteries get too low, which often happens in the evenings of autumn, winter and sometimes in spring. (He estimates about 60 – 100 hours each year). Even above all that equipment that needs gas, fuel and maintenance and cost about $160,000 in total to set up, they still have to grow, cut and collect, ouch, 100 kg of wood (220lbs) per week in winter for each house.

He warns that anyone […]

Blackouts are coming: Australian grid so fragile, expensive, cement giant already shuts down nearly every day

Image by Vicente Godoy from Pixabay

By Jo Nova

We can’t even run a cement factory all day anymore

Get your candles for summer! Unlike the last three years the Australian national grid won’t be rescued by another cooler La Nina this year. Fears of rolling blackouts are fraying nerves at The Australian Financial Review Energy & Climate Summit. The transition is described as stuttering, gridlocked, faltering, and the government as “desperate”.

Things are so bad, former CEO’s of major generators are warning that “the lights are going to go out” and accusing one Energy Minister of speaking “complete and utter horseshit” because they don’t think we need reliable peaking gas plants to replace coal power. Said Energy Minister has responded by refusing to even take his calls. That’s really going to work. Meanwhile Japan is getting nervous just watching us, afraid we have screwed things up so badly we can’t be relied on to keep sending them gas.

Not only is summer nerve-wracking, but things are already so bad, one of our largest cement producers is shutting down nearly every day because it can’t afford to pay for the peak electricity spikes even in springtime. Here in […]

Panic now: The Australian national grid manager admits blackouts are coming

 

By Jo Nova

We’re on the precipice of a radical experiment with a national electricity grid

The AEMO (manager of the Australian grid) has finally released the major report on problems coming in the next ten years on our national grid, and it’s worse than they thought even six months ago. They euphemistically refer to the coming “reliability gaps”. They could have said “blackouts” instead, but a gap in reliability sounds so much nicer.

Bizarrely, the lead graph of the 175 page AEMO report goes right off the scale, mysteriously peaking in the unknown and invisible real estate off the top of the chart. And they’re not projecting troubles fifty years from now. Those cropped peaks of invisible pain hit from 2027.

And even the pain we can see is apparently quite bad. Two states are already likely to breach “the interim reliability measure” in this coming summer. Ominously, just one day after releasing the report, the AEMO is calling for tenders for “reliability reserves” in South Australia and Victoria. Apparently, they want offers of industries ready to shut down who aren’t already on the list, and they want spare generation too — get this — even asking […]

Don’t look now: Accounting trick destroys national economy

By Jo Nova

How to hide $100b storage, transmission lines, battery costs in a dodgy accounting trick

The cost for our whole national $100 billion dollar energy transition apparently rests on a CSIRO report that assumes we’ve already spent the infrastructure money “therefore” future costs after 2030 are almost nothing. It’s like a Nigerian email scam… except that it has fooled our Minister for Energy.

You have been selected to win a new national electricity grid, just give us your economy…

Chris Bowen, said Minister, thinks wind and solar will reduce the cost of electricity, despite them doing the opposite so far.

The CSIRO GenCost report says that renewables are cheap if we pretend we have already spent the money on the transmissions lines, the pumped storage, the “firming” of the grid. It’s like a used car salesman that says the second hand electric car will be cheap to run while hiding the twenty grand you have to spend on a new battery before it can move out the door…

There is a circular reasoning here that says we assume it’s worth spending bezillions now because renewables will be cheap after we have spent bezillions. […]

Green Australia: where Industry is on Edge, the grid “precarious” and electricity prices up 25%

By Jo Nova

The land that is the Renewable Crash Test Dummy is holding its breath

This time last year, the Australian energy market turned into a kind of Hunger Games spectacle with daily feeding-fest at dinner time where prices were so burning hot that unhedged smaller retailers begged their own customers to leave them and then the whole market was suspended. The bonfire was so big we’re still paying for it, and retail electricity prices are set to rise another 25% in a few weeks.

So it’s no surprise that as the cold weather arrives downunder, everyone involved in energy is “on edge”. Suddenly Australian corporate leaders are telling it like it is — the Alinta Gas chief says there is just no way we can build enough renewables in time — he can’t even “see a way” of building enough renewables to compensate for the coal units that are being closed.

The man who used to run the Snowy Hydro Scheme agrees (and then some) — saying we need to build a “Snowy” every year, and we are being lied to (his words) and it will take not 8 years, but 80 years to get there. The […]

South Africa: half the country without electricity, plans power cuts 32 hours long

By Jo Nova

With South Africa only weeks away from the start of winter, the head of the State owned Eskom warns there will be the worst blackouts on record, which is really something because some people are already going 10 – 12 hours a day without electricity at the moment.

The country is allegedly at Stage 6 blackouts with “Stage 8” appearing to be a near certainty (if not there already). But apparently they are making plans to invent a “Stage 16” just in case they need it.

“Luckily” South Africa may meet Climate Goals to cut emissions by 2030, though possibly destroy their civilization in the process.

SA may face power cuts of up to 32 hours, says Eskom

Johannesburg – South Africans should brace themselves for the possibility of being plunged into the worst darkness ever since the start of load shedding, as load shedding up to stage 16, meaning an unspecified 32 hours of power cuts, is anticipated to avert the total collapse of the grid owing to mounting demand.

A document titled “voluntary” NRS048-9 edition 3, which would in unforeseen emergency circumstances allow Eskom to implement drastic load shedding beyond stage […]

Mystery: Australians invest billions in free wind and solar, but prices rise another 20-30%

By Jo Nova

Last winter’s debacle in Australia could be repeated this year, but at even higher prices.

Despite adding more cheap renewables per person than nearly anywhere on Earth, for some inexplicable reason our retail electricity prices rose 18% last year and are set to rise another 20 to 30% this winter.

Last year was a bloodbath on the wholesale electricity market. Those costs have fed through to retail.

 

AER Australian wholesale electricity prices.

The Energy Minister Chris Bowen blames the Russians, and says we need more renewables.

Shock power bill jump to hammer households

Perry Williams, The Australian

Power bills for households will soar by hundreds of dollars a year from July 1, adding to soaring cost of living pressures as the regulator blamed supply challenges and volatility for the steep cost hit.

Customers in Victoria face a 30 per cent jump on ‘safety net’ prices while households in NSW, South Australia and southeast Queensland will see bills soar by up to 24 per cent.

The Victorian ruling by the Essential Services Commission estimates power costs will jump by $426 for residential customers to $1829 […]

Renewable South Australia Islanded, flying by the seat of their pants, afraid of a solar surge on a sunny day

By Jo Nova

The biggest blackout has hit South Australia since the statewide crash of 2016. It’s due to a weather calamity, but the renewables state is struggling to keep the frequency stable for a whole week without the rest of the national grid to lean on. This time they have the back up generation, but they’re going to great lengths now to stop the surges from solar and wind — there’s no where to dispose of excess electricity…

On Saturday afternoon a storm system blitzed out 423,000 lightning strikes and brought down some 500 lines, including the Heywood interconnector that joins South Australia (SA) to Victoria. That is out of action until Friday, so for a whole week the Star Renewables State of South Australia is on its own — Islanded from the national grid. The test is here, and right now at 6am they’re running on 80% fossil fuels and 18% wind, plus millions of dollars has been spent on frequency control, and they’re trying to turn off the solar panels.

The storm caused blackouts affecting 163,000 customers or roughly 18% of the state. Power was restored for most within hours, but there were still 35,000 properties without […]

In perfect hell for grid managers, Global Warming causes coldest start to winter in South-East Australia since WWII

The climate experts didn’t warn us we’d need more electricity for winter in Australia.

If only carbon dioxide make winter nights warmer, Australians wouldn’t have been using up stockpiles of coal and gas in the last six weeks, and setting winter-time demand records. These geniuses got everything wrong.

Coldest start to winter in decades for eastern Australia with power grid under strain

The Guardian

Early June temperatures in Melbourne didn’t go above 15 degrees for first time in 70 years as cold weather pattern starts to break

Eastern Australia’s giant cold snap is finally breaking down but not before temperatures reached lows not seen for seven decades or longer and pushed the country’s main electricity grid to the brink.

The extended chill was caused by an unusual weather pattern that locked in cool pools of air over southern and eastern states, triggering the deepest snow dumps in the alps since 1968, according to Ben Domensino, a senior meteorologist at Weatherzone.

Australia so cold it’s already setting winter electricity demand records

It’s not about record cold snaps, it’s more of a long run of below average days. In a sign of […]

In an emergency, we need coal

So it’s a new record. In the 20 years since the National Energy Market formed it has never operated on such a vapor thin margin. Only a few days ago Paul McArdle at WattClarity thought a mere 15% instantaneous reserve plant margin was a headline event, but tonight the grid survived (so far) on a tiny 3% Instantaneous Reserve Plant Margin NEM-wide. Things were so tight the NSW Minister for Energy sought emergency powers to force coal companies to provide fuel to coal generators for the next 30 days on his say so. Presumably next on his list would be emergency powers from God to make the wind blow.

Two years ago Australian taxpayers spend $13 billion a year in climate action (Moran). As researchers at ANU noted, Australia was leading the way — installing more megawatts per person than any other nation on Earth. (Blakers) Despite being the fastest growing and sparsest population, on the most remote nation which was practically a quarry and farm built on coal and uranium deposits, Australian political leaders rushed to compete for green booby prizes in Beautiful Weather Contests.

And the toll from the bonfire in prices is just starting with Iron […]

Welcome to a weather dependent nation — whether you can use your dishwasher depends on the wind

Renewable Crash Test Dummy: Friday edition

For energy-nerds following the Australian experiment, today is a big day. On the up-side, three coal turbines have rebooted adding another 1200MW to the grid. On the down-side, the wind has slowed and 3000MW has disappeared. On the hope-side, another 4 coal turbines may possibly get back in gear by Sunday, and you never know, the wind might pick up. Though it doesn’t look good.

Wind generation. June 16, 2022, Australian NEM. | Anero.id

It doesn’t matter how many wind farms we build when one High Pressure cell arrives to sit on them all

And here is the cell that stops a million dishwashers.

One high cell to stop them all | BOM

This is where all 76 Australia NEM grid wind farms are which could, in theory be generating as much as 9.8GW but are turning out 10% of that now.

Map of Wind generation Australia

Ninety percent of Australians are being asked to be careful with their electricity today while we wait for the wind to start blowing again or the weather to warm up. And millions of dollars is being burned in electricity bills (assuming […]

Blackout risk in five states continues: Wholesale energy market suspended, Australians told to use less electricity

The Renewable Crash Test Dummies: Test in progress

A LaTrobe Valley Coal Plant

Day #3: Huge Yallourn coal plant in Victoria loses 2 of 4 turbines. The AEMO suspends the whole market. Blackout warnings continue. Australians are being asked to conserve electricity. It’s just another day in the forced transition we don’t have to have.

How much lower can we go? Half of the generators from the ultra cheap brown coal Yallourn plant went phht yesterday. This was “unplanned”. It normally makes 20% of Victoria’s electricity. It’s owned by EnergyAustralia (China Light and Power) which is keen to close it early in 2028 and has a special secret deal with the Victorian government to do so. Perhaps China Light and Power is scrimping on those maintenance costs?

Warnings about potential blackouts exist for all five states on the National grid during the next 48 hours. The Minister for Energy, and the head of the AEMO, and several state Ministers have asked Australians to turn off all the non-essential electrical items. The NSW Minister asked people not to use their dishwasher tonight. Go first world modern nation! Meanwhile Matt Canavan wonders why people can’t use their dishwashers but the […]

Still teetering: Blackout warnings across the Australian grid next three days

All the rules are breaking.

The price market broke on Sunday night and now the interconnectors rules are broken too. The whole Eastern five state “National” grid is flying seat of the pants — the reserves are so incredibly thin that there are LOR3 forecasts — meaning Lack Of Reserve Level 3 rolled out for all five states. It doesn’t mean blackouts will happen, but it means all the protective layers of this onion are gone. The system is running bare.

UPDATE: There were some blackouts in Sydney’s northern suburbs last night. “Millions of homes” were apparently told to conserve their power in Brisbane and Sydney. Welcome to RenewableWorld!

ht/ WattsUp, Eric Worrall, and RicDre

The price market broke on Sunday night when for the first time the AEMO imposed somewhat anachronistic price setting clauses it had never used. By fixing the wholesale price in Queensland, market bidding suddenly phase-changed into a twilight world where prices were set too low (at an obscenely high $300/MWh, but not high enough now), and generators didn’t want to bid. So offers to supply “Yo-Yo’d” and the AEMO had to run emergency orders of a different kind to […]

Australian grid teeters on edge of blackouts tonight

The Queensland grid is in crisis — the forecast price for nearly the entire next 24 hours is $15,000 per megawatt hour.

I have never seen a graph like this one. It’s a “white knuckle ride” as Paul McArdle describes it. The IRPM (or Instantaneous Reserve Plant Margin) is just 8%. “This shows total Available Generation of 31,679MW ready to supply aggregate ‘Market Demand’ of of 29,201MW at this point … so a surplus of only 2,478MW NEM-wide.” But only last week there was a record day where the grid demand was 32,000MW — the highest winter demand day for years.

AEMO

Reserves are incredibly thin, not just in Queensland, but also in NSW.

AEMO

Market Notices from the AEMO are flowing like confetti. There is an Actual Lack of Reserve Level 2 (LOR2) in Queensland as of 6pm to 8pm. There is an LOR2 running for NSW as well, and an LOR1 for Victoria. If things shift up to LOR3 that means blackouts are likely, and LOR3s are forecast — in QLD tonight and in NSW tomorrow night. The margins are thinner than they look. Because extra generation on one part of the grid may […]

EnergyAustralia (a Chinese company) tells Government we need a plan to end Australian coal

EnergyAustralia is 100% owned by China Light and Power (CLP Group) and owns a suite of generators that include coal, gas, wind farms and battery storage in Australia. It was sold by the NSW government for $1.4 billion in 2011. According to Wikipedia, the mothership company, CLP, owns “a number of power stations in Asia” and most are either coal-fired or fossil fuel power stations. It also owns Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company.

Yallourn Power Plant, | Malcolm Paterson, CSIRO

 

A year ago the same company that announced it was speeding up the closure of Yallourn coal power plant to 2028 instead of 2032, now warns the transition “may not be smooth” and the governments plan to pay incentives to keep them open “may not be enough”. But back in March last year, when EnergyAustralia said it wanted to close Yallorn, it also said that it wanted to show that the transition is possible “without disruption”. In fact the Managing Director raved at the time “”We are determined to show Australia, that it is possible to move from the old to the new in a way that does not leave people behind.”. Blah Blah Blah, eh?

The […]

Cold snaps and blistering electricity prices downunder — where one state burnt $2.4b in electricity in May

And the bonfire continues

As cold fronts sweep across the south east of Australia electricity prices are setting records nobody wants to set. The wholesale prices for electricity –across a whole month — soared past $300 a megawatt hour in three states of Australia. In NSW the cumulative cost of wholesale electricity for May alone worked out at $2.4 billion dollars. It’s enough to build a power plant. Back in 2015, before Hazelwood old brown coal plant closed and Australia installed more renewable energy per capita than anywhere else on the planet, the average price in NSW was $35/MWh. Back then it cost $260 million for the whole month. (And Hazelwood wasn’t even in NSW. ) The point is not about one coal plant, but about how recently the system still worked and how fast it fell apart. Hazelwood coal plant in 2017 was 53 years old and still selling electricity at $30 per megawatt hour when it was shut down. Since then the whole grid has so much more capacity yet so much less ability. There’s no resilience left. A few speed bumps wiped out the whole road train.

 

Wholesale electricity prices are higher across the […]