Barry Bones was delighted to tell us that his electric jug went on this morning so we just need to relax and enjoy unreliable energy firmed by gas. Many people may find that reassuring but they need to appreciate that we are at the point where about 10% of our power comes from wind and solar when it is going well. Besides Sunday morning is a low point of demand.
We can live with that small amount of unreliable energy, at least on Sunday mornings, because we still have almost enough fossil-fuelled power to meet demand almost all of the time. And when there is not quite enough, some of the big users have to back off. There will be more and more of this, and also the shutdown of whole suburbs that has been rare up to date.
As for whole states getting into trouble, the AEMO has warned that this is on the cards for Victoria next summer.
This is with 10% in the system (on a good day), what happens when it gets to 15% and 20%? The answer is that the power gets more expensive and the supply becomes less reliable. It has to get more expensive because for the indefinite future we will have two supply systems. However the economics of the system will tend to drive reliable power out of business. This will be an interesting process to observe, unless you run a business with ovens or freezers.
The Germans led the way down this road and they are now building coal-fired power stations, phasing out pumped hydro and they have not reduced their CO2 emissions since 2009.