SA windpower fails, as usual

It is time for the politicians, planners and commentator to face the fact that wind and solar power have failed in South Australia. This is the wind leader, the trail-blazing pioneer of the new age of “clean” power.

It has become the canary in the coal mine, the red flag, a warning to all who would follow the path to become a “renewable energy superpower.”

The illusion of success is achieved by selective reporting.

Practically every week new heights of wind and solar penetration are achieved and this is greeted with wild applause. The same thing is happening in Britain where they have just announced record penetration of wind power in 2022.

People have to realise that the green transition is not being dragged up to follow higher levels of penetration, it is constrained by the lowest level which is zero on windless nights. The convoy moves at the speed of the slowest vessel, the water breaches the levy at the low point, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the weasels get out of the yard through gaps in the fence even if you build the rest of the fence to the sky.

Forget about solving the problem by installing more wind and solar. And forget about storage, there is effectively none at grid-scale now and none is in sight in the foreseeable future. So-called big batteries are installed to make money out of gaming the system that has been destabilized by injecting intermittent, unreliable, weather-dependent energy. The intermittent energy system is also ruinously expensive and filthy dirty. Fossil power using modern scrubbing technology to eliminate nitrates, sulphides and particulate matter is pristine by comparison.

The conflicting stories describe “a game in two halves” as football commentators say. In the other half of the story in SA almost every day there are periods when they are importing coal power from Victoria or burning gas, and often both. They frequently have recourse to diesel generators, as they did this morning at least up to 10am Sydney time because the wind in SA is only average (CF 30%.)

In Britain and Germany domestic power prices are going through the roof, power-intensive industries are closing down and new coal mines are being opened up.

Has the world gone crazy?

No, just the energy planners, driven by terror of “the breath life”, CO2.

Think about this!  Look at the situation in Britain.

Then ask yourself whether you would invite one of the architects of that power system to come and lead our Energy Market Operator? No?

Meet Daniel Westerman who replaced Audrey Zibelman to become our “energy czar” at the helm of AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Mr Westerman managed the electricity network across England and Wales and has led transformation and change programs across multiple business units and geographies.

His significant commercial and regulatory experience in both the UK and the US mean he is well-positioned to lead a key institution like AEMO through this period of significant change in the energy market.

Famous last words?

More details on the British debacle

London, 17 January 2023 – After the much-lauded battery start-up Britishvolt collapsed into administration, Net Zero Watch has reiterated its warning that the Government’s policy of green interventionism and Net Zero dogmatism is a recipe for economic and political disaster. 

Described as a ‘gigafactory’, the collapsed EV battery factory was meant to be a symbol of levelling-up and would show how a green “planned economy” could herald an industrial renaissance.

UK Government ministers had committed £100 million to the battery project, apparently without a sound business plan, because it aligned with official rhetoric on Net Zero. 

The company blamed Britain’s “ballooning energy costs” for its predicament, and its ultimate collapse.

In recent months, BMW has announced it is moving manufacturing of the electric Mini from the UK to China, where manufacturing is powered by cheap coal. Other carmakers plan to slash the number of electric vehicles they manufacture because rising prices and the spiralling cost of electricity makes them increasingly unaffordable for drivers.

Dr Benny Peiser, Net Zero Watch’s director, said:
“This fiasco was utterly foreseeable and was indeed foreseen by us and other analysts — but not by complacent ministers and incompetent civil servants. BMW’s China exodus and Britishvolt’s collapse won’t be the last casualties of the government’s green command and control economy.”

Throwing money at projects without a sound business plan because they align with official rhetoric on Net Zero is a new pandemic, happening in Australia in the private (Sun Cable) and public sectors (hydrogen hubs) and in the US at a much grander scale under the aegis of the Legislation to Increase Inflation and Debt which has the Orwellian label Inflation Reduction (black is white and white is black.)

Meawhile coal surges in Europe and most other places

And Voices intervene to ensure that there is no more gas coming on stream in New South Wales to avert the collapse of the power supply when coal stations go out of business.

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Anchor What
Anchor What
January 18, 2023 8:39 am

Hydro-electric power, that is to say turbines driven by water pressure, does work.
But, such is the grip of the enviro-loons on the enfeebled intellects populating government at all levels and the MSM, we don’t build dams any more.
Result: insufficient hydro-electricity and insufficient flood mitigation.

January 18, 2023 8:51 am

In a past life about 35 years ago I had some contact with an ALP front “community” organisation packed with the worst kind of left wing apparatchiks and true believers. Two of the most intractable were a hard boiled couple with the same surname as the “energy czar” of the AEMO. They were of an age when they could have been his parents. It would be interesting to delve into his history. It was quite an education for me.

January 18, 2023 8:52 am
January 18, 2023 9:36 am

green “planned economy” could herald an industrial renaissance

Because planned economies have worked so well we need to add “green” to turbocharge the idiocy.

Set controls for the heart of the sun!

Shy Ted
Shy Ted
January 18, 2023 10:14 am

Shovelling your taxes into maaates pockets works perfectly.

January 18, 2023 10:29 am

One day my head is going to fall off, ..because I keep shaking it every time I read more bullshit about greensworld fairy tales .

January 18, 2023 11:01 am

A failure to teach arithmetic in primary schools has led to this ludicrous situation.
Green lunacy stems from innumeracy.

January 18, 2023 11:32 am

The illusion of success is achieved by selective reporting.

It is deceptive practice aimed at propping up and promoting a failed scheme so it can continue to be replicated elsewhere ripping off billions from taxpayers and consumers and naive investors including superfunds, whilst stroking the egos of government officials and politicians too eager to promote themselves as visionaries of the future* that they fail to do a risk management analysis as to its true impact on our economy and environment. Think of it this way, if it was successful they wouldn’t need to cherry pick the results this way. (*Note I am fully aware that there are some who see this as a means to achieve a political reordering and control of means of production by stealth.)

January 18, 2023 11:39 am

Superb stuff Rafe! Thanks for your efforts on this.

January 18, 2023 12:10 pm

We are “controlled ” by idiots!

January 18, 2023 1:52 pm

Mr Westerman managed the electricity network across England and Wales and has led transformation and change programs across multiple business units and geographies.

Meanwhile, Britons who can’t afford to heat their homes this winter are being advised by their parliamentarians and local councils to make use of “warm spaces”, public buildings such as libraries which have central heating.

Because – and I quote their slogan – “Everyone has a right to keep warm.”

Except when the library closes for the day everyone has to go home to their cold, dark house or flat and make do as best they can through the night.

As with covid restrictions, the energy crisis is cementing in place a two tier society : those with enough money to escape privations imposed by government policy and those with no choice but to accept them.

One can’t imagine this will be tolerated indefinitely.

January 18, 2023 2:37 pm

Blah blah. Why don’t you get Greta to write this crap?

January 18, 2023 4:03 pm

“The illusion of success is achieved by selective reporting.”

From “Yes, Prime Minister”:
“We have to find something else to talk about!”
“What about health?”
“Everyone knows the costs are completely out of control!”
“Right – ‘We are spending more than ever on health…’”

January 18, 2023 4:36 pm

This I think sums up my frustration
“Together, the new batteries have a combined capacity of 2.0GW / 4.2GWh. That’s enough to power the entire state of Tasmania for more than three hours using stored renewable electricity.”

Yes, at a cost of $2.7b. So just to power Tassie for 24 hours will cost $21.6b. Tassie is less than 2% of Aust Popn, so times that by 50 to get a national figure. So literally $1.08 Trillion NOT billion, Trillion. For one effing day. If we get a week of low wind overcast weather its 7 Trillion. Then 15 years later when the batteries are all buggered we get to spend it all again. That’s an amount of money that reduces Australia to Sub Saharan third world nation status and ARENA the guvvie agency literally thinks it is something to brag about.

January 18, 2023 9:01 pm

Damon , I dont think Greta has any spare time to write anything . It is strongly rumored she has discovered boys ..and things !.

January 18, 2023 9:27 pm

Thanks for the posts Rafe, but I shake my head at the utter stupidity of it all.

January 18, 2023 9:28 pm

I considered a lewd reply, but I think “and things” is adequate.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
January 19, 2023 7:39 am

A very relevant article from Epoch Times:

The Renewable Energy Problem That No One Talks About (18 Jan)

South Australians will not soon forget when this happened to the entire state network in 2016. The state-wide blackout started late in the afternoon during some poor weather conditions, and thousands of people had to drive out of the city without any streetlights or traffic signals.

After the 2016 blackout, energy security gained its rightful place as the highest priority for a few glorious and brief weeks.

A package of actions was taken by the South Australian government over the next couple of years, including the installation of a large-scale battery (following a promise by Elon Musk to construct it within 100 days or provide it for free), the building of a new diesel power station, and providing incentives for new natural gas exploration and production.

Additionally, two synchronous condensers were installed. Synchronous condensers are large, heavy rotating shafts, similar to what is contained in a turbine, but they don’t produce electricity—they just help to stabilise the frequency of the network.

In the subsequent years, each of these responses was vindicated. The diesel generator has been used at several critical times. It was also found that the primary value of the large-scale battery was to stabilise the network.

A recent example of a near-miss occurred in late November 2022. During a significant weather event, the main transmission line connecting South Australia to the rest of the east coast was broken near Tailem Bend.

South Australia’s electricity network became an island. For system stability, several rotating generators had to remain online. Yet the amount of solar energy the state can generate during the day can exceed demand. The network operator needed to curtail more solar generation than they have direct control over.

In response, the market operator began phoning behind-the-meter solar power providers and using social media to ask commercial and residential solar panel owners to switch off their panels. Thanks to these phone calls, they managed to turn off about half of South Australia’s solar power and thus prevent another shutdown.

The system was highly vulnerable, yet the whole event barely made the evening news.

That’s an excerpt, RTWT. The interesting thing is it’s made it to ZeroHedge via Epoch Times. Which means a lot of people will see it. But don’t expect the MSM to cover such things.

January 19, 2023 10:09 pm

The Great Aussie Migration
Colo[location] and cloud providers move beyond the east coast

To SA… hahahahahaha

“For us, the greater issue is the variability of the grid,” Burley said. “In Australia, there’s a good bit of instability occurring. And so, in Adelaide, we maintain the 72 hours of backup generation on-site fuel.”

January 20, 2023 4:08 pm

NFA – Point taken abut the poor choice of location but I wonder if your quote above has predicted the future. Either at some point Governments come to their senses or a vast number of private citizens and businesses will buy themselves a back up diesel or petrol generator.

January 20, 2023 10:43 pm

Has the role of batteries changed? At one point they did “nothing but” stabilise the grid, they didn’t actually power anything. Do they now actually store electricity for uses other than grid stabilisation?

Robert Sewell
January 21, 2023 6:51 am


Either at some point Governments come to their senses or a vast number of private citizens and businesses will buy themselves a back up diesel or petrol generator.

We just had a shutdown for six or so hours – the second in six months. I don’t count the small blackouts any more.
Fortunately, I have a diesel genset and was able to save about $2k of food and meat. Still waiting for an electrician to wire it all up for the house.
When the grid does go tits up, we’ll all be in real strife. Unfortunately the price of diesel means I’ve only got a weeks worth on hand, and you can’t get longterm 44 gallon drums. Yes, there’s other ways around the problem, but it ain’t getting easier.

Robert Wood
Robert Wood
January 22, 2023 12:24 pm

Has the role of batteries changed? At one point they did “nothing but” stabilise the grid, they didn’t actually power anything. Do they now actually store electricity for uses other than grid stabilisation
This is a prime example of how the renewables advocates keep changing the goalposts with the batteries. Initially they were installed to supply power when renewables weren’t available, but now they’re in use to “stabilise the grid”, especially since it’s shown that renewables are nowhere near “grid-stable”. Anf the advocates keep changing the narrative to push their twisted agenda.

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