Rafe’s Roundup 25 Sept

Calling Energy and Emergency Services Ministers

Here is a thought, what is the plan to respond to the collapse of the electricity grid? Is there adequate backup with generators to keep hospitals and other emergency services running? Complete with fuel. And what else? What about the water and gas supplies. And everything else like lifts, traffic lights, cash registers, petrol browsers and ATMs.

What are the messages that all jurisdictions should take away from the South Australian blackout in 2016? Of course everyone assumes that it will never happen again and heroic load sheding should ensure that is the case but lets at least contemplate the worst case scenario as a matter of due diligence. There is an Australian Emergency Management Arrangements Handbook with a lot of words in it, as you would expect, but are the plans in preparation?

The dark side of intermittent energy

A wordy and scary piece on the toxic impact of the Unreliable Energy industry, especially in exotic places. Skip through to pick out the eyes on the impact of wind and solar developments and especially the role of big corporations in the US power industry and the extraction of rare earths in Asia.

Lithium-ion battery mining and production are determined to be worse for the climate than the production of fossil fuel vehicle batteries in an article from The Wall Street JournalAccording to scientists measuring cumulative energy demand (CED)production of the average lithium-ion battery uses three times more electrical energy compared to a generic battery. 

Recent wind droughts

On the morning of Thursday 22 just before sunrise  South Australia (the wind leading state) was importing two thirds of its demand and the local generation was 80% gas!

In the evening at dinnertime WA was down to 1% of power from the wind. In the East the wind was doing better, delivering 3% of the demand at a capacity factor of 7 (severe drought.) Victoria is the big wind state with more capacity than SA, though not per capita, and their windmills contributed 1% of demand at capacity 1.4%. Their capacity factor was below 5% for the previous 24 hours!

Approaching 10pm nothing has changed, the wind across the SE is delivering 4% because the total demand has gone down, still the capacity factor in SA is 1.2 and in Victoria 2.8! 

On Friday morning at sunrise the wind across the NEM was delivering 2.6% of demand at CP 5.5% (of installed or nameplate capacity.) South Australia is importing half its demand with gas providing almost 90% of local generation, wind CP 3.5%. In Victoria the wind is delivering 2%, CP 2.3%, Queensland 1% CP 6% and Tasmania 4% CP 7%.

The NEM has been technically in drought (CP less than 10%) since 10 am Thursday, in SA since 1 am on Thursday, and in Tasmania and Victoria the drought started at noon on Wednesday.

On Saturday the NEM recovered although the capacity farcor stayed under 20% all day (two thirds of the average) while SA and Victoria were under 5% for much of the day.

On Sunday the NEM trended down to reach drought level (10) at noon. Shortly after sunrise SA wa importing 45% of demand wth 40% of local generation from gas. The picture shows the rather limited amount of green (wind) even though only SA was technically in drought. Imagine the extra windmills required to provide hot breakfasts and coffee!

Roundup of partners and fellow-travellers

Drop in to the sites and see what they are up to!

CPAC Speakers for this yearRegister Volunteer to help

IPA         Climate and energy program CIS          The Sydney Institute

Menzies Research Centre Mannkal Economics Education Foundation          

Advance Australia Taxpayers Alliance Australian Institute for Progress

17 thoughts on “Rafe’s Roundup 25 Sept”

  1. What are the messages that all jurisdictions should take away from the South Australian blackout in 2016?

    A recent survey of South Australians found a majority were in favour of nuclear power.

    Seems they’ve had some sense knocked into them.


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  2. A recent survey of South Australians found a majority were in favour of nuclear power.

    Voting by candlelight or speaking into a can with a long piece of string might have helped.


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  3. The emergency management handbook will probably have acknowledgements of tribes, a climate change diatribe, a statement of diversity and inclusivity and a list of those likely to get awards in the New Years honours list.

    Any emergency will still take them completely by surprise.

    But it will be glossy and full of motherhood statements and jargon.

    And will be completely ignored by operational personnel that actually do the work.


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  4. WTF is this ll about? Always asking the naivest questions…almost every day?

    Those who are making billions…trillions?….out of the scam, are not interested in back-up plans, nor keeping lights on for the plebs. THERE IS NO PLAN!

    What was Bernie Madoff’s plan for getting the $50 Billion back to his clients? Or that sheila in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs ripping everybody off? THERE WAS NO PLAN.

    What was Adolf’s plan when it came to housing, feeding, clothing the millions sent to camps in Eastern Europe when it got cold? What was the back-up plan? NONE, FFS!


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  5. Have commented on your post positively twice tonight with extra material to back up your arguments but comments haven’t appeared. As they say when you are over the target that’s when you cop the flack.


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  6. Since the blackout not that much has changed; an interconnector upgrade and another installed to facilitate input from Victoria and NSW, a “big” battery installed at tremendous cost that will last a couple of hours for about 10% of users. Otherwise SA relies on gas, kerosene and imports from Victorian coal fueled plants to keep lights on when the wind is troublesome and the sun not shining.
    https://d.docs.live.net/f383b99bd7f85eb1/Documents/The%20South%20Australian%20Blackout.docx


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  7. Not only are our governments crippling the supply-side of electricity, but they’re pushing full steam ahead on doubling the demand side with electric cars and other boondoggles.

    I’ve only just become aware that the dream of “Green Steel” requires much more energy (electricity). Its about 500kWh per tonne for a standard electric-arc furnace, and a whopping 3500kWh per tonne for ‘green steel’ (2600 kWh for the hydrogen and 816kWh for the rest)

    It only becomes commercially viable if electricity is priced at less than $20/MWh.

    Oh, and

    .. commercial steel production using hydrogen instead of coking coal is still decades away with no commercially viable options available anywhere in the world, [BlueScope chief executive] Vassella said.



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  8. Rafe,
    We are going to have to reap the rewards of stupid to learn the lesson . You and others have been pointing out the facts for some time now and the majority don’t or wont listen . The Media and “our” ABC are ignoring reality for complete fantasy . Plan for the worst and hope for the best….


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  9. I demand my indigenous energy culture preserved. Where is my Energy Voice to Parliament? Energy Treaty now!
    Blackout Life Matters!

    …oh and a government grant would be great as well.


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  10. Currently, renewable energy sources account for about one-third of California’s power supply; natural gas accounts for 40%. But read what is being implemented for the future: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/09/25/california-ban-natural-gas-heaters-and-furnaces-by-2030/
    California’s grid has already failed several times. But seems we here in Oz are going down the same path. But in our case we can’t import energy from our neighboring countries when the grid falls over. Oh dear, we will just need to go back to wood fired heating. Can’t imagine Zalli Steggall and the teals out at the wood pile with the axe and dealing with the redback spiders.


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  11. Rafe, this thread is valuable as it brings the matter to the fore in my aging thinking.
    At the household level those that can afford the capital investment will presumably look hybrid solar/battery systems that can operate independent of the grid if needed.
    I have reviewed a hybrid option from time to time and found the return was not good enough.
    It may become a necessity. Such a system would not run our property in summer when Bore pumps etc are working and would only cover basic light and household power.
    That wont fix the broader electricity based systems.


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  12. Got back from South Africa this weekend. Experienced load shedding most days from 6pm to 8 pm. It occurred during the early hours of the mornings too. Bloody nightmare. A modern society and economy cannot function in this situation.


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  13. “Here is a thought, what is the plan to respond to the collapse of the electricity grid?”

    Well there’s your problem – you expect:
    a) they have a plan
    b) they implement said plan
    c) plan works.

    In terms of a plan, their only plans are to get re-elected and to put off any issues until they are no longer elected, and can use them against the other side.
    In terms of implementation, COVID response as well as bush fire action-lists from previous royal commissions clearly shows a plan is useless, no matter how carefully constructed.
    Both of which make whether the plan works or not moot, because even should it exist, and even should it be good, it will never be implemented.

    In NSW at least, electricity generation and large scale distribution used to be done by the Electricity Commission (now TransGrid and individual generation owners) and they financed their own planning and construction with the “target” of cheap and reliable supply. Askin killed that by taking their income from sales and giving them a fixed amount for running costs. Later governments then required them to find their own finance for construction, and pay for it from their “allowance”. They were also required – as all state GovCo institutions were at the time – to train many more tradies and engineers than they really needed. That wasn’t such a bad thing, as this gave a whole bunch of well-trained and skilled labour to private enterprise at fairly low marginal cost.

    But like everything GovCo gets into, it started as a good idea to placate public fears, worked well for a little while, then got politicised and screwed over until they decided it was better to sell it all off.
    No doubt we will enter the same cycle again, based on current trajectory – or at least, something similar. Perhaps keeping the “private” part but adding subsidies for the “public good”.
    Which would, of course, be worse than GovCo just taking over completely – sure, GovCo is inefficient at everything, and private is much more efficient. Private is definitely more efficient at scamming GovCo subsidies for no public benefit. Certainly Telstra, for instance, is no more efficient nor easier to deal with now than they were when they were fully GovCo owned – it’s just that instead of the profits being eaten up by ridiculous union and GovCo rules, they are siphoned off into private hands.


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