Solar fantasy comes to earth in South Australia

UPDATE. Thanks to Steve trickler in comments, a piece from Jo Nova on the hype and misinformation put about two years ago when this project was mooted. The writing was on the wall when you looked at the pathetic performance of the SolarReserve plant in the US.

A company called SolarReserve is planning to build the new Aurora 150MW solar thermal plant at Port Augusta, which is apparently a copy of their Crescent Dunes plant in the US. But that project has been offline for most of the time since last October.

ANOTHER UPDATE
A comment from Jo Nova on the axing of this project and the interconnector that the SA Labor leader thinks is bring dirty brown coal power from NSW. (actually the brown coal is in Victoria).

That interconnector is a $1.5 billion project that will allow South Australia’s erratic electricity to help destroy baseload power in New South Wales just like it did in Victoria. Electricity prices are predicted to fall, but SA already has one interconnector to Victoria and prices have only gone up everywhere within 1,000km of that.

It takes big national planning to make big problems. Indeed, without the Heywood interconnector SA couldn’t have managed a state-wide blackout in 2016.

In the real economy, $1,500 million dollars buys a lot of electricity, or 6 gas fired plants, or most of one large advanced coal plant that could produce 2000MW of cheap electricity for 50 years (or indefinitely, as long we keep the maintenance going).

Kids are running the country.

ORIGINAL STORY
A small item on page 31 of The Weekend Australian reports that the US SolarReserve proposal to build a 150MW solar thermal plant near Port Augusta has not attracted enough investors to back up the $110M of federal funds that Nick Xenephon (Nick who?) extracted in return for his support of company tax cuts.

SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas blamed the plan to build an interconnector with NSW. “They are prioritizing NSW dirty brown coal over SA renewable energy.” As Jay Weatherall said last year “Port Augusta is a symbol of South Australia’s transition from old to new”.

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33 Responses to Solar fantasy comes to earth in South Australia

  1. SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas blamed the plan to build an interconnector with NSW. “They are prioritizing NSW dirty brown coal over SA renewable energy.”

    So basically it isn’t economically viable?

  2. jock

    The labor leader is so utterly dim that he doesnt realise nsw generators are black coal users. We dont have brown coal in nsw. That’s victoria .

    Having talked to some people in government on energy including the redoubtable don harwin ( is there a menu that can survive his scrutiny? ). There is little doubt they dont understand energy economics or even their carbon mitigation schemes. When you point out that with wind and solar being intermittent and unreliable. They say get a battery. You know one that lasts 15 minutes. And you still need back up via gas or coal. They miss the fact that you could be building four generating units to provide exactly the same unit of electricity. They dont seem to get that there is enormous redundancy in the generation system. And that it needs to be paid for by users.

  3. Mark M

    Preparing for our 97% apocalyptic future climate, which is academically here, now … or will be, soon … or, might be …

    Almost 6000 solar panels to power our campus –

    “Flinders University’s draft sustainability plan is aiming for zero net emissions from electricity by 2020. Flinders also aims to reduce campus electricity demand by 30% from a 2015 baseline, through renewable energy generation and storage.”

    https://news.flinders.edu.au/blog/2018/08/23/almost-6000-solar-panels-power-campus/

  4. Dr Fred Lenin

    My government would build a coal fired station five times bigger than the one the reds blew up ,I would name it the “weatherill memorial coal fired power station “. It woukd join the ones to be built in Vic. NSW and Qld. And I waould start on a nuclear plant on the Uranium mines in SA .

  5. John Bayley

    In addition to the worthy comments above, it also needs to be pointed out that thermal solar is basically a failed technology.
    Euan Mearns’ Energy Matters blog has had some detailed articles on that topic.
    Anyone interested, have a read.
    http://euanmearns.com/energy-externalities-day-9-solar-thermal-or-concentrated-solar-power-csp/

  6. The Countess

    Dr Fred I like your thinking. You’ve got my vote.

  7. Confused Old Misfit

    That so called sentient adults can be seduced by this global warming scam to the point were they tacitly approve of politicians distributing their tax dollars to rent seekers, charlatans, con artists and politicians (please excuse the redundancies) beggars belief.
    Any aspirant for public office, at any level, who espouses CAGW should be laughed into oblivion.

  8. BoyfromTottenham

    SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas blamed the plan to build an interconnector with NSW. “They are prioritizing NSW dirty brown coal over SA renewable energy.”

    Er, um, as far as I am aware, NSW doesn’t have any brown coal (dirty or otherwise). SA Labor = Fail.

  9. Judith Sloan

    Also SA Labor supported the inter connector.

  10. Steve trickler

    A good journo would bring this up.

    Peter Malinauskas is a dickhead.

  11. Entropy

    Clearly the solution is to blow up the interconnector just like they did with their coal power plant. Then SA wouldn’t have to put up with that clearly evil energy produced in NSW.

  12. Colonel Crispin Berka

    Yes but the only reason they chose solar is because they were heeding the God Emperor’s warning that wind turbine noise gives you cancer. /s

    https://i.imgur.com/4UqGj2u.jpg

    RIP South Australia.

  13. Boambee John

    Entropy at 1501

    I don’t think the interconnecter has been built yet, it may still be at the planning stage.

    Scope for saving some money, cancel it? Undoubtedly much of the money will be begged from the Commonwealth government, go sic ’em Friedeggburger.

  14. yarpos

    You have these idiots in SA and then you have Shorten in an ABC interview saying electric vehicles take 6 or 8 minutes to charge. Is there not one technically competent mind in this whole loop?

  15. You have these idiots in SA and then you have Shorten in an ABC interview saying electric vehicles take 6 or 8 minutes to charge. Is there not one technically competent mind in this whole loop?

    This is obviously a rhetorical question

  16. Leo G

    What is it about parasitic renewable energy schemes that makes them so attractive to “progressive” politicians?
    What sympathy could there be, for an industry that receives support and advantage from other industries without giving a net useful or proper return, from government officials who receive support and advantage from others without giving a net useful or proper return?

  17. Bruce of Newcastle

    Poor birds and bats in South Australia have enough trouble dodging all the wind turbines to want to be fried on the wing as well.

    ‘Streamers’: Birds Fried in Midair by Solar Plant, Feds Say

    Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume from birds that ignite in midair.

    Environmentalists seem awfully keen to destroy wildlife in South Australia. Could it be they really aren’t environmentalists?

  18. egg_

    Ivanpah CSP plant in the USA covers 1,420 ha (3,500 acres) is rated at 329 MW gross and cost $2.2 billon to build.

    WTF?
    That’s one huge bird roaster.

  19. egg_

    Basin & Range Watch Sues Bureau of Land Management for Withholding Bird Mortality Information

    Embarrassing birdy MacNuggets?

  20. Fang

    One day dirty big asteroid will be making a beeline through our little planet! What will these num skulls have to say about that?

  21. duncanm

    That’s one huge bird roaster.

    Indeed it is

  22. GD

    My government would build a coal-fired station five times bigger than the one the reds blew up , I would name it the “Weatherill memorial coal-fired power station “. It would join the ones to be built in Vic. NSW and Qld. And I would start on a nuclear plant on the Uranium mines in SA.

    You’ve got my vote Doctor!

  23. OldOzzie

    SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas blamed the plan to build an interconnector with NSW. “They are prioritizing NSW dirty brown coal over SA renewable energy.” As Jay Weatherall said last year “Port Augusta is a symbol of South Australia’s transition from old to new”.

    Port Augusta at the head of the Spencer Gulf has to be one of the ugliest areas around and a logical place to put a Nuclear Power Station – Uranium from Roxby Downs 260km and 2hrs 36mins up the road then dump the waste at Maralinga – probably the most stable geological area in the world and you already have let atomic bombs off at that site – only 869 Km and 14hrs 58mins from Port Augusta – Perfect Solution and no nasty Brown Coal from NSW (and we pay these Cretins Money to run us)

  24. amortiser

    So he talks about transitioning from the “old to the new”.

    Last year I noticed that wind generation in SA seemed to be capped at about 70% of nameplate or between 1200 and 1300 megawatts. The generation graph rose and fell as wind power does. On a really good day it will get quite high but it plateaued at about 70%.

    I thought this was odd so I sent an email to AEMO seeking an explanation as to why generation from wind seemed to be capped.

    I received the following reply:


    You’re right in observing that under certain circumstances, the cumulative generation from wind farms in South Australia is constrained.


    This occurs because AEMO (the operator of the power system) needs to maintain sufficient fault levels in the power system. Fault levels in the power system (also known as system strength) are provided by synchronous generators such as gas-fired generation, hydro and coal-fired generation. Sufficient amounts of fault level are needed to keep voltages within acceptable operating limits. As such, AEMO is sometimes required to limit the amount of wind generation, particularly on windy days, so that there are synchronous generators online providing fault levels.

    So these clowns installed a “new” generation system that could never meet its nameplate capacity without crashing the grid.

    They are headlong on the road to implementing this approach nationally. This is what happens when political decisions trump technical limitations.

    We are heading for disaster.

  25. duncanm

    OldOzzie
    #2981452, posted on April 7, 2019 at 9:25 am
    Port Augusta at the head of the Spencer Gulf has to be one of the ugliest areas around and a logical place to put a Nuclear Power Station

    too right. Its absolutely criminal that Australia does not utilise the safest energy source on the planet. We have all the right fuels and conditions right there.

    Imagine, subsequently, the wealth we could create with raw material processing (bauxite, iron ore) rather than shipping dirt out of the country.

    Australia has the potential to a leader in supply of clean raw materials (steel, aluminium) to the world’s manufacturers.

    Instead, we sit on our collective arses and fret about too much plant food and nasty words.

  26. cohenite

    amortiser

    #2981507, posted on April 7, 2019 at 11:27 am

    So he talks about transitioning from the “old to the new”.

    Last year I noticed that wind generation in SA seemed to be capped at about 70% of nameplate or between 1200 and 1300 megawatts. The generation graph rose and fell as wind power does. On a really good day it will get quite high but it plateaued at about 70%.

    Correct. Renewable energy comes in surges and in the wrong form, DC, rather than AC. Coal/gas/nuclear and hydro produce synchronous energy which is AC at the grid frequency which is 50Hz in Australia The amount of renewable energy coming into the grid depends on the level of conversion infrastructure, condensers which are huge inverters. If there is not enough conversion infrastructure the level of renewable energy has to be capped.

    It’s hard to get a picture of the costs of the conversion infrastructure in Australia right now but it is certainly less than the 16000MW of installed wind and solar. I would reckon the infrastructure must be nearly the same cost as the cost of installing the wind and solar in the first instance. That 16000MW costs about $500 million per 100MW, so about $90 billion.

    On some days that $90 billion produces no power at all.

    A good article on the problems of conversion of renewable energy into grid compatible energy in England is:

    https://www.irishexaminer.com/business/unreliable-renewable-energy-is-hitting-quality-245524.html

  27. RobK

    As such, AEMO is sometimes required to limit the amount of wind generation, particularly on windy days, so that there are synchronous generators online providing fault levels.
    This problem relates to the Hosting Capacity (HC) of the grid at each particular section. Hosting Capacity can be improved by adding more conductors or adding rotory condensors (which are power conditioners that allow upto twice as much real power to be transmitted). The problem of designing for renewables is that the mix is constantly changing.
    This technical paper describes the situation:

    State-of-the-art of hosting capacity in modern power systems with distributed generation

  28. Kneel

    “The amount of renewable energy coming into the grid depends on the level of conversion infrastructure, condensers which are huge inverters. If there is not enough conversion infrastructure the level of renewable energy has to be capped. ”

    The bottle neck is not a lack of inverter capacity.
    The bottle necks are frequency control, and grid infrastructure.

    Several tonnes of rotating inertia per generator helps to ensure frequency stability – it takes a lot of power to change the rpm of that shaft! Solar PV and wind use inverters, which have no rotating inertia – they faithfully follow the grid frequency where ever it goes. In order to have stability, we need that inertia. So there can only be as much “inverter” generation as can be supported by currently on-line (even if not supplying generation to the grid) rotating generators.
    True, simulated inertia from inverters is possible, but this is problematic for renew-a-bubbles because they don’t have predictable output power and so are useless when needed most.

    Grid infrastructure is an issue because the grid is designed and built to facilitate large generators at known, single locations, feeding power via various branches to the entire list of consumers of that power. It is not designed or built to feed power from one section of the consumer grid to another – it’s more like a “livestream” than a “peer-to-peer file share” system, but home rooftop solar requires the “peer-to-peer” style.

  29. Ben

    People have said to me that the “transition” to renewables is like when we went from horses to cars.

    I say it’s like going from cars to bicycles.

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