Tag Archives: SA blackout

Australia puts the brakes on wind

Wind power, seen as inherently evil by our national government, was in danger of taking over in South Australia. So something had to be done to slow it down, right?

How about if the wind blows strong providing cheap power we mandate that the gas must be turned up as well, so the wholesale price goes up instead of down?

It seems absurd, but that is what has been done. Continue reading Australia puts the brakes on wind

Climate clippings 200

1. Murdoch media continues the energy wars

The Murdoch media continues to lay the blame on renewables, a notion specifically rejected by AEMO, leading to a Twitter battle between SA minister Tom Koutsantonis and The Australian’s Adelaide bureau chief, Michael Owen.

2. AEMO embraces change in the SA blackouts report

Continue reading Climate clippings 200

What really happened in the SA February blackouts

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

Politicians lie, while corporates game the electricity system

I can’t make up my mind whether Malcolm Turnbull’s brains have fried, or whether he is just plain evil. I think of Godwin Grech, and think the former. My wife is convinced it’s the latter, and she’s usually right about people.

Anyway politics reached a new level of absurdity last week, as Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into the parliament, which ended up between a crazed Barnaby Joyce’s legs, while in Question Time Turnbull’s answer to every question about the omnibus bill to change social security entitlements (and save a heap of cash) was to rant about Bill Shorten, blackouts and dreaded renewable energy in South Australia.

All the while, fossil fuel generators are gaming the system, to extract more from electricity consumers, while the market regulator ends up splitting the profits.

Two politicians from South Australia, Premier Jay Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis, are very angry, and they’ve had enough. Continue reading Politicians lie, while corporates game the electricity system

Climate clippings 190

1. BoM says 260km/h winds knocked down network in SA blackout

    The Bureau of Meteorology says wind gusts up to 260km/h from a “supercell” thunderstorm and multiple tornadoes were recorded on September 28, destroying transmission towers and causing the state-wide blackout in South Australia.

That’s as strong as Cyclone Tracy, which flattened Darwin, and almost as strong as Cyclone Yasi. Continue reading Climate clippings 190

Renewables under attack – again

wind-farm-hero_250The Coalition government and the Murdoch press were already mounting a full-scale attack on renewable energy when the AEMO report on the SA blackout presented information in such a way as to cast further doubt on renewable energy. AEMO stands for Australian Energy Market Operator. That is AEMO is an operator in the game, not an independent watchdog. In fact an operator that may not itself have acted prudently.

On top of this Chris Uhlmann of the ABC has been virulently critical of the rush to renewables, using what turns out to be techno-babble to sound convincing. His views have skewed the ABC network coverage across all platforms.

So what happened? Continue reading Renewables under attack – again

Climate clippings 187

1. Arctic sea ice volume collapse

The collapse of the Arctic sea ice volume has been even more dramatic than the extent, as shown in this graph:

volume_1-ntec4r4n_axudzpkbhvb9q_550

It’s down from 16,855 cubic kilometres in 1979 to 4,401 in 2016, that’s an ice loss of about 74%. Continue reading Climate clippings 187

After the blackout, a new dawn for renewable energy

sa-storm_4377924-3x2-940x627_250One of the more eye-catching comments on the SA blackouts was from AGL Energy’s CEO Andy Vesey telling the All Energy conference in Melbourne that a secure power system would be rooftop solar and batteries in a distributed power system with power being generated at the point of consumption. He also said that politicians were blaming the South Australian blackout on renewable energy because technological disruption was confounding their “mental models”.

Greg Hunt, a man clearly in a muddle, went in hard, as reported by Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy:

    In an opinion piece written for the Australian Financial Review, and reported as the front page lead “SA blackout could have been avoided” – Hunt claimed that a coal-fired generator could have kept the lights on in Olympic Dam and Whyalla and avoided much of the damage, and he also chastised the states for chasing unrealistic targets.

Continue reading After the blackout, a new dawn for renewable energy

Saturday salon 30/9

1. Stupidity over SA blackout

“Ignorant rubbish” is what Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews called Malcolm Turnbull’s initial comments on the SA electricity blackouts. “It’s the weather, stupid”, is more or less what Bill Shorten said, and he was right. The press has reported two ‘tornadoes’ in the north of SA which made pylons look like this:

sa-storm_sept-16_1475185969725_550

The questions to be asked in this case are not about the reliance on renewables, rather on why fractures to the grid 200 km north of Adelaide took the whole state down. Continue reading Saturday salon 30/9