Blackouts – the new normal?


Early in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith watched his fellow citizens react to an announcement that the government was “raising” their chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. Winston remembered the announcement from the previous day, however: the government was reducing the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. He marveled as everyone all celebrated what was actually bad news, which they should have all remembered was bad news.

Winston thought: “Was he, then, alone in the possession of a memory?”

With respect to that great achievement long ago of cheap, reliable electricity, how many of us in the new normal will even allow ourselves to remember it?


39 responses to “Blackouts – the new normal?”

  1. alwaysright Avatar
    alwaysright

    How many? The same number as the number of fairies at the bottom of my garden.

  2. Vagabond Avatar
    Vagabond

    I wouldn’t worry. Once the aluminium industry is destroyed there will be enough spare capacity to prevent blackouts for another few years and by then they can blame the libs anyway.

    It’ll mean a few thousand lost jobs and a bit more welfare but hey, you can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs!

    /sarc off

  3. Simon Thompson Avatar
    Simon Thompson

    If I had one wish, I would wish to be appointed a Public Serpent Commissar, complete with a baldrick and a shiny pistol. My job would be to reality test all the Public serpents, including would be politicians. Shoot on sight any Serpents with fixed delusions. Sounds harsh, but is desperately needed to save our society.

  4. Shy Ted Avatar
    Shy Ted

    The light on the hill will be your local MP who, miraculously, doesn’t have a blackout. Pop in and say hello.

  5. Roger Avatar
    Roger

    Different context, but…

    Our visiting Saffie regaled us at Christmas lunch with tales of living with up to four blackouts a day. A generator is essential.

    Too bad for the many who can’t afford one.

    And they thought they’d all be driving Mercedes Benzes by now.

  6. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare Avatar
    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Household generators and stored fuel to run them will become the norm for many who can evade blackouts, but this isn’t most of the population, especially apartment dwellers. As with the blackouts of my childhood in the 40’s and 50’s, people will adapt, but back then there was far less dependence on electricity. These days large shopping centes and other buildings will be greatly affected, as will all purchasing, lifts, carparks, traffic lights, home garage entry, and most other usual features of life. They will undergo a sudden halt. For how long? And how often? People will die in the chaos.

    Our insane energy minister pleading a few months ago on TV for people to stop using dishwashers and other energy gobblers during peak hour dinner time was a clue to how clueless he really is, and anyone who turned their dishwasher off then deserves everything that Bowen has in store for us. Let it rip. The sooner the better so that we can get back to some decent base-load power and ditch unproven CO2 fantasies about climate change. Don’t get gaslit – maintain the rage and direct it back at pollies.

  7. MatrixTransform Avatar
    MatrixTransform

    Rolling Blackout
    Screwup Mitigation
    Grid Stabilisation
    Load Shedding
    Maintenance of Essential Services

    Load Sharing … much nicer

  8. Entropy Avatar
    Entropy

    The theologians will blame the coal power plants for being too unreliable.

  9. shatterzzz Avatar
    shatterzzz

    The light on the hill will be your local MP who, miraculously, doesn’t have a blackout. Pop in and say hello.

    back in the early ’90s when blackouts were quite common in Sydney my local State member had himself connected to the local hospital priority line .. Fortunately, I and a few others were on the same conductor and blackouts became distant memories for several surrounding streets …

  10. Damon Avatar
    Damon

    “in the 40’s and 50’s, people will adapt”
    In those days, kids didn’t have phones that needed charging. I suspect that there would be diminished levels of tolerance.

  11. WolfmanOz Avatar
    WolfmanOz

    Damon says:
    December 29, 2022 at 11:21 am
    “in the 40’s and 50’s, people will adapt”
    In those days, kids didn’t have phones that needed charging. I suspect that there would be diminished levels of tolerance.

    100% agree.

    Also the media will turn as no-one will be able to consumer media (TV, streaming services etc) as there’s no power.

    Our dependency for our way of life on energy is such that once the shit hits the fan then there’s going to be a lot of very angry people.

  12. Bruce in WA Avatar
    Bruce in WA

    Blackouts? Get used to them.
    Time-rationed electricity supply? Get used to it.
    Meat and fish shortages? Get used to them.
    “Get gas out of the kitchen”? (Quoting Albasleazy) Get used to it.
    No more ICE cars? Get used to it.
    No more air travel or cruise ships ‘cos “not green”? Get used to it.
    No private ownership of firearms? Get used to it.
    Increased immigration? Get used to it.
    Public denunciation of Christianity? Get used to it.

    What a wonderful Australia our grandchildren will inherit. /sarc

  13. miltonf Avatar
    miltonf

    There has been a United Nations Association in this country for many years. Who are they, what are they up to I wonder?

  14. Petros Avatar
    Petros

    Should we call them greenouts?

  15. another ian Avatar
    another ian

    “The light on the hill will be your local MP who, miraculously, doesn’t have a blackout. Pop in and say hello.”

    Isn’t that called a target?

  16. Heathen Avatar
    Heathen

    The article citing Duke Energy blackouts presumably refers to the current problems which arise from extreme weather. No system is designed for extremes, which often cause kit failure and always cause unusual loads. We aren’t in the zone yet of wondering whether it’s renewables. The closest actually is China, though they have about 50% excess capacity in coal and problems with supply more likely to do with price controls.

  17. Peter Avatar
    Peter

    Currently in South Africa. It sucks. “Loadshedding” today only 4am to 6:30am, 10am to 2:30pm and again 6pm to 8:30pm. Politicians houses, of course, are exempt.

  18. flyingduk Avatar
    flyingduk

    Household generators and stored fuel to run them will become the norm for many who can evade blackouts

    Which is why they will be banned….

  19. Louis Litt Avatar

    Going to see bil today who is a geologist in Kalgoorlie. He said in 1910 scientist discovered co2 traps heat. Can sone one give me a reply to this.
    I have the base element , people covered.

  20. tommbell Avatar
    tommbell

    As the new Green authoritarian Uniparty carries on with the good work of the Covid-hysterics (same faces funnily enough) and lauds rolling blackouts as a necessary step in preserving the “future” for our grandchildren, as Forest Wardens armed with condign powers patrol “old growth” forests to stop poaching of timber for fuel, as more and more laws are passed imposing ever more Draconian penalties on “deniers” with the fine print conferring extraordinary quasi-judicial powers on State functionaries, as new health “emergencies” are periodically declared in lockstep with the climate “emergency” then, maybe, some serious popular action might take place. In places like France, I’d have slightly more confidence – but the Frogs have their own existential demographic issues to deal with too. In Australia where a majority seem comfortable with Big Government (provided the benefits keep rolling in) I have less confidence. Will only total destruction of our economy encourage gormless Aussies to turn off the TV and get involved??

  21. yackman Avatar
    yackman

    The question in my mind is given that supply will likely become unstable what can an individual household do to mitigate the problem even though the return will not be economic. ie. a utility & convenience investment.
    On a property that uses a house pump from tanks or in emergency from a Bore we already use a generator for backup via a three way isolation system and 15 amp connector to switchboard.
    It is all manual at present however friends have Honda auto start and as yet no battery.
    Battery storage would need to be around 25 kwh (four Teslas?) with the conversion & control systems to allow operation when isolated from the grid. Even with 25 kwh storage certain appliances would be switched off. Finding a reliable contractor is a challenge.
    Has any reader built this type of system?

  22. Pogria Avatar
    Pogria

    Rafe, thanks for the Nova link. Scary stuff.

    Crime, of course, is rampant when the lights go out, showing that coal not only provides power, but it keeps people safe, reduces crime, and to some extent keeps civilization on the rails.

    The above is the key quote. Once this happens here, perhaps then will the populace rise up.

  23. RobK Avatar
    RobK

    Yackman,
    There are always work-arounds, often at considerable cost. A plug-in hybrid car comes at a $15k premium to an IC Engine car and generally doesn’t have a spare tyre-but can double as an 70kW battery charger on wheels while looking chic parked in the garage. Couple this with $20-30k of islanding capable inverter and associated battery and miscellaneous “smarts”, it’s easy to be on the right side of the bollards for a modest fee, which should include provisions for bollards upgrade. Simples.

  24. RobK Avatar
    RobK

    Has any reader built this type of system?

    Similar setups are not uncommon in rural areas near the edge of the grid and beyond. It helps if there’s an electrician and engineer in the business.

  25. RobK Avatar
    RobK

    He said in 1910 scientist discovered co2 traps heat. Can sone one give me a reply to this.

    LL,
    That experiment was conducted in a laboratory jar. The earth’s atmosphere is an open system predominantly regulated by water /water vapour. The simplistic projection of a radiative gas in a jar to be an analogy for a large, coupled, complex stochastic open system is not valid for policy formulation because it is irrelevant.

  26. Boambee John Avatar
    Boambee John

    Rob K

    An idiot named Chris Warren used to tout around a modern version of that system on Don Aitkin’s blog before Don closed the blog down as his last days neared. He would never try to explain how the demonstration worked, but minor details like CO2 concentration levels way above those in the atmosphere did not seem to be familiar to him.

  27. flyingduk Avatar
    flyingduk

    It is all manual at present however friends have Honda auto start and as yet no battery.
    Battery storage would need to be around 25 kwh (four Teslas?) with the conversion & control systems to allow operation when isolated from the grid. Even with 25 kwh storage certain appliances would be switched off. Finding a reliable contractor is a challenge. Has any reader built this type of system?

    I have previously installed an autostart generator system for my house, but didnt go for any batteries because it was uneconomic – the batteries were many thousands of dollars per ‘day’ of storage, whereas 20L of petrol would run my system for 20 hours. Further more, there would have been the cost of any associated solar panels, and the separate shed and underground cabling to house the batteries – if you doubt the need for this, google ‘tesla fires’ or ‘house battery fires’ and see what you get. I did the ‘electric car fire’ module with the CFS a couple of years back and the takehome message was ‘ order 10 tons of water and quarantine for 3 days’ (lithium batteries keep re- igniting for days until all the energy is discharged).

    Things I did learn:

    1) My house, when just ‘idling’, drew less than 1kW.
    2) Running a few lights, and a reasonable suit of appliances (NOT stove and kettle and water pump and oven and aircon simultaneously) drew 5-7kW.
    3) Dont put in a huge diesel as they dont like low load running – they can suffer from cylinder glazing. The exception is if you have a battery to charge, in which case you run the big diesel hard to recharge the battery,, then shut it down.
    4) Autostart systems are convenient, but must include a mechanism to shut off the street (or you might send power out to the grid – which the linesman working on a fault wont like).
    5) My autostart system *had to have* a working 12v battery or it would shut off the street supply, then NOT start the generator – this happened once.

  28. Robert Sewell Avatar

    Entropy:

    The theologians will blame the coal power plants for being too unreliable.

    That’s precisely what they’re doing now.
    I have a sparky nephew who is convinced the whole grid instability problem is getting worse – he believes it will come good when the last coal plant is taken off line.
    Why?
    Because then the renewables will be able to stop subsidising them.

  29. Robert Sewell Avatar

    Flyingduk:

    Household generators and stored fuel to run them will become the norm for many who can evade blackouts

    Which is why they will be banned….

    No, the home gensets will be confiscated for Essential Services. One will be keeping the Duty Sergeants Bar Fridge running.
    And I’m not joking about that either. That’s how low the Police are – in my estimation.

  30. Robert Sewell Avatar

    Tommbell:

    Will only total destruction of our economy encourage gormless Aussies to turn off the TV and get involved??

    Yes.
    That’s the short answer.

  31. Boambee John Avatar
    Boambee John

    Robert Sewellsays:
    December 30, 2022 at 4:54 pm
    Entropy:

    The theologians will blame the coal power plants for being too unreliable.

    That’s precisely what they’re doing now.

    This is Homer P’s line over at CL’s blog. He offers no evidence to support this position.

  32. custard Avatar
    custard

    My best friend works with Western Power and he assures me the WA grid is on very shaky ground, his bosses know this, but believe only a big failure will get the government to do something meaningful about it!

  33. Robert Sewell Avatar

    Custard:
    He’s probably on the right track with that.
    I’ve been hoping for a collapse like the one in New York ’77 just to wake people up to the cost of failure.
    Not to kill people – although there will be casualties, nor to cause vast economic damage, but to at least get some measure of preparedness in equipment etc to repair the damage.
    Because there’s only one thing worse than a severe localised grid crash, and that’s a nationwide grid collapse that can’t be restarted because too many transformers have been destroyed and there ain’t no spares.

  34. Rockdoctor Avatar
    Rockdoctor

    Louis Litt, not able to delve into atm as I am in transit international. Secured NYE flight finally from an overbooked variety.

    My 2c on what has been supplied. Your mate sounds like he needs to get back to the facts in geological record and not the cool aid he is obviously supping. Rock lickers should know better FFS. Kalgoorlie really, does he work for the government or ABC per chance?

  35. Pogria Avatar
    Pogria

    flyingduk, if you are around, are there LPG generators?
    I am planning on installing emergency gen, but read that, of all the fuels, LPG is the only one you can store pretty much forever as it doesn’t go off.

  36. Kneel Avatar
    Kneel

    “Can sone [sic] one give me a reply to this.”

    If latent heat transport by water can make a max temp difference of 50C desert vs 35C tropical island, and a min temp difference at the same locations of -3C desert vs 15C tropical island, what role does CO2 play when we can barely pull its effect out of the noise over 100 years, and then only in min temp data, not the max temp?

    If reductions in CO2 are important, why have we not replaced our coal generators with HELE coal plants, which produce the same cheap, reliable and dispatchable power for 30% less CO2?

    If renewables deployments to date have only reduced our reliance on fossil fuel energy by 1% (approx. 84% to 83%), over a period of 10 years and at a cost of energy increase of 100% , how long will this transition take, and how much will it ultimately cost in both dollars and lifestyle?

    If, as the numbers appear to show, Australia is a net sink for CO2, and yet levels keep rising, in what way are we to blame? Surely it is the fault of those countries that are net sources of CO2 that are to blame, not those like us (and, perhaps surprisingly to many, the USA) who are net sinks.
    That we are a net sink of CO2 while being net exporters of minerals, energy and food, surely makes us heroes not villains in the “climate wars”, and yet we apparently owe a “climate debt” to others.

  37. Kneel Avatar
    Kneel

    “Because there’s only one thing worse than a severe localised grid crash, and that’s a nationwide grid collapse that can’t be restarted…”

    It’s not the “grid scale” side that is the issue with a black start, it’s the local loads.
    At above 132kV, the grid is fairly resilient – there is sufficient battery power and private comms to disconnect all load, and for example Eraring in NSW has gas turbines of sufficient capacity to “cold start” a single generator, which can then bootstrap the next, getting actual generation and large scale grid distribution online pretty quickly.
    So the “backbone” part of the grid can be restarted easily enough.
    It’s the local grid load (suburban level) that is the problem – all those fridges, lights, aircons, factory machines etc that are left turned on that have a huge startup power requirement, and are difficult to isolate individually, that are the problem – great care is required to slowly ramp up the load while allowing the generators to match capacity to demand.
    Any failure at this level can rapidly put you back at square one, and as above, for large amounts of “end user” load, the system cannot be remotely controlled once it “goes black”, and getting manual control takes people on the ground, which takes time, transportation and coordination – and the longer the “end user” load is off, the harder that is to do (phones go down, petrol pumps stop working etc).
    It can be done, but it’s not a matter of just getting enough generators fired up – as above, that’s the easy part! It’s keeping the grid stable while everything gets power back that needs careful management.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Ryan flies to Canberra in the most expensive business class seats every week. And she decided to run for parliament…