RE fails in SA as usual


Checking at 6.30 Sydney time, South Australia has turned the corner as the sun went down in the mid to late afternoon after exporting power since late morning and is now importing bigtime. Check the live display and the dispatch summary. The wind across the South East has been at drought level all day, with NSW doing better than most while at present in SA and Victoria (the wind leaders) the windmills are delivering 4% of installed capacity.

Gas is providing 2/3 of the generation in SA and coal is delivering over 80% with the brown coal clunkers cranking at 95% of capacity. Not bad for equipment that is unwanted. But Sandgropers and Victorians would have cold dinner without them.

Bright and early on Sunday morning and the RE enthusiasts are predicting that RE will establish a new record of penetration into the grid this afternoon after a rousing performance yesterday.

But right now SA would be black without coal power from Victoria. The top bar in the chart represents demand and the bottom bar is the local supply.

The wind in SA is contributing 260MW compared with Gas at 450 with another 450 from Victoria.

This is the picture an hour later as shown by the NewWatch widget.

The wind has picked up but not enough to make up the gap to meet demand.

The picture will change during the day as the sun comes up, this is the dispatch summary, this is the widget and this is the Aneroid 24-hour rolling display.

10.15 in Sydney. As the sun builds up SA is no longer a power mendicant state but lo and hehold, Victoria is importing! There is next to no wind in SA, Victoria and Queensland as you can see in the Aneroid display if you tick and untick the boxes to look at individual states. 80% of local generation in Victoria is brown coal compared with 2% from wind.

Early this morning the much maligned “ageing” brown coal clunkers were delivering 91% of installed capacity! OK, they are out of service occasionally, but solar is out of service every night and widespread wind droughts are more frequent than individual coal station downtimes.

In response to comments. The briefing notes of the Energy Realists (see here!) go to 830 state and federal politicians. We know that most will be intercepted by green staffers and trashed but the point is to put them on notice that they can never say that nobody warned them. The wheels will fall off before long. In the meantime we have to get the best information in the clearest possible form to our friends and relations and anyone else who is prepared to discuss the matter.

I like to think that we are getting better at explaining the key issues even though things are going to get a lot worse before we can hope to make much impact on public opinion. Simplicity and graphic visual displays will be the key to convey the critical issues – wind droughts, no grid-scale storage, the flood protection wall effect. Sustainability has to be measured by the low points of RE supply, not the high point or the average penetration.

Noon update. All the states now have negative prices, mostly near -$30 with SA the standout at -$92. Imagine a market where the goods are not worth anything! Apart from the subsidies provided to the wind and solar providers. The usual suspects find this to be very exciting and a sign of success. Well us we know, RE can displace coal but not replace it!

The stolen climate debate

Richard Lindzen is probably the dean of climate science. In this very short video he explains how the real science of climate was stolen by three groups of people in defiance of the majority opinion of genuine scientists associated with the IPPC.

The reputable scientists who contribute to deliberations of the IPCC agree on the fundamentals – the climate has always changed, since the Little Ice Age there has been about one degree C of warming, life on earth depends on CO2 and CO2 makes a minor contribution to the beneficial warming that we have enjoyed lately. There is no way to accurately predict the future climate and its impacts. There is no prospect of catastrophic warming.

There is a difference between two sub-sections of that group. Some think that problems may arise if warming persists for a long time. The others have no worries at all.

So why all the fuss?

Lindzen identifies three groups on the fringe of the IPCC who convey the IPCC message to the world, based on the short summary that is produced by the IPCC secretariat when they shepherd the members of the panel as they hammer out the distorted version of the science for public consumption.

The three groups that end up holding the megaphone are activist politicians, the green NGOs and the media. Their careers and the success of their organizations are based on climate alarmism and their grip on politicians and the public has so far enabled bogus science to drive out the real thing. See the video and circulate it. Only five minutes!

Thanks to Cliff Boof in the comments for this great commentary on Twiggy Forest and the quest for wealth from green hydrogen! Not quite on topic but a great contribution to the current debate on RE rorts.

Helpful comments from Roger and Cassie, the video is a few years old and Lindzen focussed on the climate debate. Since then it has become more apparent that other groups are implicated, notably school teachers, the RE industry and behind them the world of finance and banking that can see rivers of gold from a carbon tax and all the other “investments” in short-term assets that would be stranded without subsidies and mandates. On top of the massive power of specific vested interests is the pervasive community support for the religion of environmentalism and the climate scare.

Read and weep for the green jobs in Australia

The future of Australian industry is visible in Scotland where the green revolution was supposed to generate hundreds of thousands of new, well-paid green jobs. A longish piece but full of meat and a grim warning for us.

In summary, the massive expansion of windfarms in Britain was funded by Britain and built in China using cheap coal power (ignore the reference to dirty power). There was some work in Scotland early in the piece but now those facilities are wastelands.


Shortly before losing office in 2010, the former prime minister Gordon Brown went further, boasting that Britain’s offshore industry was already ‘ahead of every other country’ in the world.

In his glittering green future, offshore wind alone would generate ‘up to 70,000 jobs by 2020’.

The pledges continued under David Cameron’s coalition. In 2011, the Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne, later jailed for lying over a speeding conviction, addressed the annual conference of RenewableUK, the green energy lobby group.

‘Renewable energy technologies will deliver a third industrial revolution,’ he said, ‘blazing a trail of start-ups and jobs.’

Nowhere was the hyperbole quite so extreme as in Scotland where the former SNP first minister Alex Salmond boasted that the country would become ‘the Saudi Arabia’ of renewables.

His deputy, John Swinney, claimed building wind farms off the Scottish coast would create ‘28,000 direct jobs and a further 20,000 indirect jobs in related industries by 2020’. In Methil, the promises have turned to dust.

Certainly, since 2010, there have been plenty of new offshore windfarms. Britain’s capacity has doubled to 10 gigawatts, and under Mr Johnson’s 10 Point Plan For A Green Industrial Revolution, which he launched last November, it is set to quadruple again by 2030 — so creating (of course!) ‘tens of thousands’ of new manufacturing jobs.

In 2018, Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Unite trade union revealed that far from the promised 28,000 Scottish manufacturing jobs in offshore wind, there were just 1,700. And since then, the situation has deteriorated.

Last month, Scotland’s only factory making turbine towers, at Campbeltown in Argyll, closed permanently.

So no one is making offshore towers in Britain, although turbine blades are still made at the Danish firm Vestas on the Isle of Wight, and Siemens Gamesa in Hull.

As for solar energy, Britain’s only large panel factory, in Wrexham in Wales, shut down in 2013, with the loss of 615 jobs.

A report by Strathclyde University last June said that in 2019 there were 1,190 full-time Scottish manufacturing jobs across all types of renewable energy, including hydro power, solar, onshore and offshore wind, and a further 1,000 ‘indirectly’ employed in the renewables supply chain.

Parallel universes

I have never been a fan of the parallel universe theory in physics but I can see that it is a real thing in climate and energy matters. Check out the contrast:

The British universe.

The alternative universe in Australia.


This picture will change, right now at 9.30 both Victoria and SA, the wind-leaders are importing power. This picture tells the story and shows the flow of power between the states. Those are live displays and they will change, especially when more solar power comes on line.

Sure enough at 9.50 SA is exporting as solar kicks in. But RE enthusiasts don’t want to get carried away, without coal power SA would have gone black overnight and they would be looking at a cold start if they wanted a hot breakfast. Gas is still providing almost as much local generation as wind.

At breakfast time on the east coast when there was hardly any solar, and none in SA (later sunrise), SA was importing 20% of its demand (coal power from Victoria) while gas provided more than half of the local generation. The wind was a tick above average (CP 32% compared with 29%) and of course the situation is worse when the wind is below average, which is half the time, not to mention periods of almost dead calm.

Imagine the situation in SA and Victoria when Yallourn goes off line. In Victoria at the moment the wind is almost down to drought level and coal accounts for 70% of local generation.

Tasmania, the battery of the nation, has been in deficit this morning with next to no wind.

The real cost of unreliable energy

The frog and the scorpion arrived at the edge of a river at the same time. Both wanted to get to the other side. The scorpion asked the frog for a ride on the frog’s back because the scorpion could not swim.

The frog objected, saying that the scorpion might sting him if he was on the frog’s back.

The scorpion replied that he would not do that because if he stung the frog as they crossed the river he would drown himself.

Continue reading “The real cost of unreliable energy”

Wind power fails in SA & Victoria

SA took the lead in the green power race, blowing up their last two coal stations and achieving accolades as a “clean energy superpower”. Victoria caught up quickly to take the lead with by far the most installed capacity. The numbers are changing all the time but these are quite recent figures for the installed wind capacity in each state of the National Energy Market (SE Australia).

NSW                      2,140MW             16 facilities

Qld                             630MW            2

SA                           2,140                     22

Tas                            560                      4

Vic                          3,100                     25

NSW reached the same capacity as SA with a smaller number of facilities, reflecting the larger size of modern turbines, nowadays in the order of 3MW per turbine. On-shore turbines are dwarfed by the offshore behemoths that get bigger every year, the latest coming in at 15MW!

RE boosters measure success by the ever-increasing penetration of RE in the electricity grid and especially the high points in SA on Sunday afternoons. This enables them to live in a world of denial about the failure of the system due to the lack of RE at the low points of supply on windless nights.

How hard is it to understand that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link? And the flood defence is only as good as the lowest point of the barrier – never mind the high points or the average height of the defensive wall?

The weak links and the low points of the RE wall are the periods of  high demand (breakfast and dinnertime) when the wind is low.

A week of near-drought conditions recently showed the failure of the system in SA.

The chart below shows the amount of wind power generated in South Australia hour by hour through August. The dotted line across the chart at 219MW is close to 10% of the installed capacity of 2,100MW and it marks the upper level of supply that I regard as a “wind drought”.

From the 12th to the 18th the supply was mostly under the line and consequently they were importing power every day of that week at breakfast and dinnertime. They were importing at lunchtime as well during that period and this is unusual due to the amount of solar they have.

South Australia may be a net exporter over 12 months but that is beside the point because they depend on imports whenever they are in drought. When other states, led by Victoria, get rid of more coal power they will not have spare power during wind droughts to prop up SA.

Another failure at breakfast-time 5 Sept

The wind across the NEM was a little better than average (34% of installed capacity compared with 29%). In SA it was slightly lower than average (25%) and in Victoria it was 30%. Sunday is a day of low demand but at that time both SA and Victoria were importing power from Tasmania and from Queensland via NSW. Almost half the local generation in SA was gas power and 70% of the local generation in Victoria was coal power.

When the wind is lower then obviously those states are even more dependent on fossil fuel and any significant reduction in the current capacity of coal power in the NEM will put them in the dark during wind droughts.

That is just about the end of the RE story until there is feasible and affordable grid-scale storage because there is no way to deny the reality of wind droughts. They are clearly visible in the AEMO records and Tony from Oz has been monitoring the situation for years using these records. It is about time for more people to pay attention. See here. That is the Introduction to his comprehensive wind generation series.

Mike O’Ceirin has an interactive site based on the NEM records and this link takes you to a list of periods when the whole of the NEM was in drought (under 10% of installed capacity) during 2020.

On 18 occasions the duration of the drought was ten hours or more and in June the drought on the 5th and 6th lasted for 33 hours. Other droughts in June lasted for 18, 16, 14 and 9 hours.

For more instructions on wind watching check out the addendum to this post from the Energy Realists of Australia.

Pay attention to the low points of the RE supply instead of the high points!