A number of reasons are being given for what was a relatively minor power blackout in South Australia, for example in Giles Parkinson’s excellent article, dud forecasts, lousy software, failing gas plants. However, the reason is actually more simple than that – no-one gets paid for despatchable standby power, only power actually used. South Australia needed standby despatchable power when record demand was forecast, and didn’t have it.
In the AFR Mark Ludlow tells us that the second unit at the Pelican Point gas-fired power station has not operated since April 2015, so it was effectively mothballed. When the need for extra power became obvious and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) approached Engie, the owners of Pelican Point, there was simply no time for a cold start. Continue reading What really happened in the SA February blackouts