This morning on Wednesday Nov 23 South Australia is in a wind drought. The wind-leading state is demonstrating the great green future of Australia as we pretend to transition from coal.
Before sunrise SA was importing power from Victoria and drawing almost 30% of its demand from the wind, with 70% from gas, with a bit of input from diesel generators. The wind CP was 22% of installed capacity and falling.
At 8 (Sydney time) SA was still importing power and the wind was down to 7% of installed capacity, providing less than 10% of demand. The sun was starting to make a contribution but gas was still delivering almost 70% of demand.
Below is a screen shot taken about 8am. The vertical axis shows the Capacity Factor. The upper line is the picture for the NEM in total and the lower line is SA. The coloured lines are individual wind facilities. this is the live display. Check the boxes to get the various state figures.
Reading literacy appears to be in decline and that is causing concern but spare a thought for the prevalence of “wind illiteracy.” This means lack of awareness of the wind supply, especially at the continental scale.
Wind illiteracy has enabled the biggest peacetime policy blunder in our history, that is, connecting intermittent energy sources from sun and wind to the grid. That mistake has been compounded by subsidising these providers and mandating the use of the product.
The result is a mortal threat to the electricity supply which is the lifeblood of modern society since the horse and buggy days. At the very least the price of power will rise sharply, crippling energy-intensive industries, wrecking household budgets and feeding inflation in every sector of the economy where electricity is an input.
The root of the problem is the combination of extensive and protracted wind droughts, the need for continuous input to the grid to match demand, and the lack of grid-scale storage to fill the gap in supply on windless nights.
Did anyone involved in planning the transition to intermittent wind and solar power think about the wind supply in the way that irrigation planners presumably pay attention to the water supply?
Did anyone call the Bureau of Meteorology or seek advice from some wind literate person who might have warned them about the widespread wind-lulls that occur when high pressure systems hover for a day or three, as they do, several times a year.
These are not the result of recent climate change. In the history of the Lameroo district in the Mallee of western Victoria:
A drought of a very different kind occurred in March and April of 1934. Because Lameroo sits above our underground water supply, windmills (wind pumps) were used to draw water to the surface for stock water and personal use. The period from mid- March to the end of April was almost completely windless; therefore no water. Farmers were soon desperate for stock water. Source
Paul Miskelly accessed the AEMO records of the power delivered from wind farms attached to the grid. During the calendar year 2010 the total wind output across the entire grid fell rapidly to zero or near zero on 109 occasions in the year. Source
He showed that these droughts occurred when high pressure systems fell over the area, these are visible in the weather maps that show the high and low pressure systems that move from west to east across the continent.
He flagged the need for a fleet of fast-acting gas plants with enough capacity to match the installed wind capacity, on standby mode “to balance the wind’s mercurial behaviour.”
In 2010 there were only 23 wind farms with less than 2GW of installed capacity and it was anticipated that the supply would become more reliable as the number of sites increased. John Morgan reported that the situation was much the same in the 12-month period from Sep 2014 to Sept 2015 when the capacity of the wind fleet was approaching 4GW. Source
The problem persists with almost 9GW of installed wind capacity at present. Mike O’Ceirin, an independent analyst working with the Energy Realists of Australia, has an interactive site using the AEMO records. Source
The records can be interrogated to the depth and duration of all the wind droughts from 2010 to the latest serious episode which lasted over 40 hours through the 7th, 8th and 9th of August.
People need to become wind savvy and alert to the Achilles heel of the intermittent energy system, that is the nights when the wind is low and there is next to no RE input. During these periods no amount of additional installed capacity will help because there is next to no grid-scale storage to save the excess power generated on sunny afternoons.
RE promoters celebrate record high inputs like the wind just before the drought in August and the solar input for an hour in SA on the afternoon of Oct 16.
AEMO recently started to promote a massive fraud on the data dashboard with a record of Renewable Penetration. See the tab at the top of this page.
Admittedly it is labelled “highlights” but that will mislead the unwary who don’t realise that the highs are useless as long as the lows persist. It is directly comparable to the fence around the cow paddock where the gate is always open or there are permanent gaps. Doh! The cows will get out regardless of the height of the fence.
The transition from coal is limited by the lowest level of RE input on windless nights and until that rises to meet the full demand we had better keep all the coal and gas capacity that we have at present or be prepared to eat breakfast and dinner cold, and in the dark in winter.
In the early afternoon we have sunk into a wind drought with the Capacity Factor (% of plated capacity that is being delivered) near 6% and the wind is contributing almost 4% of the demand. The level of demand is as low as it ever gets in the daytime, being a mild Sunday afternoon, and with plenty of sun about the penetration of RE at present is 60%.
A guest post by Bill Stinson, one of my colleagues in The Energy Realists of Australia and author of an important survey of damage inflicted on the planet through the life-cycle of wind and solar projects. The Dark Side of Renewable Energy.
“As ye sow, so shall ye reap” – Galatians 6:7.
Australia is without leadership. Australian politicians live in a fantasy world, believing that Australia is somehow immune from the energy crisis currently affecting Europe and the United Kingdom. For at least the past twenty years, Europe and the United Kingdom have, lemming-like, invested hundreds of billions of Euros building wind farms and PV solar farms, which depend upon the vagaries of the weather to generate electricity. This reliance has left them so vulnerable, that they are now rushing to bring mothballed coal-fired power stations and nuclear reactors back online, in an attempt, to save their citizens from what is predicted to be a harsh winter.
Australian politicians continue to legislate and enter into United Nations agreements, which will deliver the same disastrous energy outcome for Australian citizens and businesses, that has now befallen Europe and the United Kingdom.
If you were told that by paying subsidies on your energy bill you would be subsidising an increase in the cost of your energy, would you continue to accept that this was a sensible thing to do. This is what Australian citizens and Australian businesses are doing right now.
Every energy bill collects environmental subsidies which support the development of wind farms and PV solar farms which hastens the closing down of reliable, affordable and dispatchable energy from coal fired power stations. When these coal fired power stations are taken out of service, unlike the European and United Kingdom governments who mothball them, Australian governments condone the destruction of our coal-fired power stations, so they can’t be repurposed, using small modular reactors for energy production.
Australian governments continue to pursue policies supporting the rollout of environmentally destructive, technologically inefficient and toxic wind farms, PV solar farms and batteries. Images of coal-fired power stations being blown up is a metaphor for the disastrous energy policies of governments of all political persuasions, both State and Federal.
We are fundamentally changing our energy generation capability from reliable coal-fired generation (which can easily be upgraded to nuclear generation) to environmentally destructive, technologically inefficient, toxic, unreliable PV solar and wind generation from a tenuous forced labour supply chain.
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 Journal. According 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!
Wind at 7 this morning. Across the NEM the wind is delivering 8% of demand at 20% of capacity (the average is 29%.). Victoria and Tasmania are deep in drought with practically no wind and Tasmania is burning diesel to protect the level of water in the dams.
SA is exporting power to Victoria while 40% of local generation is gas.
Three quarters of the power across the NEM is coming from coal and gas, with 16% from hydro and 3% from solar.
It’s like the West left their children alone in a room with The Chinese Communist Party
Karl Popper got a scare when he first saw populism in the US in 1950 during a presidential election. He delivered a talk to the Mont Pelerin Society on Public Opinion and Liberal Principles, warning that public opinion is not accountable and it can be manipulated.
As central banks obsess over far-off dangers, a tsunami of energy-price bankruptcies approaches.
Throw enough mud and it sticks, and TAI’s partisan analysis of climate change and energy leaches into the public debate like a toxic sludge. TAI is often quoted by The Guardian Australia, and then regurgitated online in blogs such as Renew Economy, Crikey, The Saturday Paper and The Conversation. One could be forgiven for thinking TAI is an extension of the Greens political party; their anti-fossil fuel headlines touted by the likes of Zali Steggall on social media.