Wind at the choke point on Tuesday 25 Feb

2pm Friday update. Wind is currently delivering 2.44% of demand across the SE, operating just under 10% of plated capacity.  In SA it is only blowing 6% of installed capacity but that provides about half their demand with some 0.02GW  (not a screen shot) left over to prop up NSW and Victoria. Not counting Rooftop Solar that is contributing 6GW across the whole SE Aust system.

On Tuesday 25 the wind dropped to a very low point across SE Australia and this demonstrated the “choke point” when parts of the grid will die unless sources other than wind can provide practically 100% of demand. South Australia would have gone black without coal fired power from Queensland via NSW. Below is the picture across the whole of SE Australia. Wind is the blue band at the top, just to confuse the issue hydro is green unlike the other AEMO display that I usually use where the hydro is blue and the band above it is wind in green. The slider is set at 11am because that was the lowest point of the wind supply that day.

Wind did not fit into the screen shot. It was 3% from 9 am to 11am and gradually increased to 5% at 6 and 5.5% at 6.30. Field Solar was 7% for most of the day, down to 3% at 6pm shortly before sunset. Rooftop solar is not recorded on this display, the other display indicates that Rooftop pv provides about as much as brown coal between 10am and pre-dinner drinks in the evening.

Below is the picture for South Australia, the wind superpower of the nation. Wind  provided 8% of the local mix from 9am to 11am and rose to peak at 38% at 6pm. For much of the day SA would have topped up with coal power from the east because the demand would have been much the same from 11 to 6 but I don’t have a picture of the Dispatch Overview to know how much was coming and going. The hydrocarbon Gas provided 70% of the local mix at 11am and declined until dinner time with the sun shining and the wind rising, then it peaked over 80% in the evening when the sun went down and the wind faded. Not a great day for RE in the RE state!

In Queensland Wind contributed 1% all day and field solar  8%.

In Victoria Wind provided 7% all day and field solar  4%.

In Tasmania that day Hydro was 94%, Natural Gas 4% and Wind 2%.

The point of the story is that on that day the wind contributed  next to nothing across the SE, from 3% in the morning to peak at 5.5% as the sun was setting. Field solar did little better with 7% during the hours of full sunlight. 

Look at the situation without Liddell.  You might say that the 10% from field solar and the wind is helpful but it was not necessary because the coal stations could have provided if black coal ran at full capacity capacity. At 6.30 in the evening it was delivering 13.9GW and it can go up to 16GW. It would be a stretch to make up the difference without 1.7GW from Liddell.

Morning survey. At 8am Friday morning Sydney time Qld, NSW and Tas are producing more power then they need while SA is slightly in deficit and Victoria is down 0.7GW. This picture is not a screen shot.

Wind is contributing 6% of the  23GW required across the system (not a screen shot). That is 18% of plated capacity.

Approaching 10 in Sydney wind is down to 4%.


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10 Responses to Wind at the choke point on Tuesday 25 Feb

  1. There’s been global warming just about the entire week our way and the liquid form has been rather persistent as well.

    It looks like we need more wind power. Oh, wait, the environmentally concerned locals are vehemently protesting such monstrosities.

  2. Bruce of Newcastle

    Someone ask Albo how he’s going to get to zero net CO2 by 2050. Is he going to put a wind turbine every 500 m all over Australia? Batteries piled up like skyscrapers? Pumped hydro in every valley up and down the Gt Dividing Range? He’s dreaming!

  3. He’s dreaming!

    No, no, Labor has a track record on major project successes. Just think of BER, NBN, Insulation etc. Oh, wait.

  4. Robber Baron

    The solution is simple Rafe.
    1. We need to sun to shine constantly for 24 hours a day.
    2. We need the wind to blow constantly for 24 hours a day.

    You’re welcome.

  5. Tim Neilson

    1. We need to sun to shine constantly for 24 hours a day.

    Geoengineer the earth into a disc, make it stop rotating so one side constantly faces the sun, and put all of humanity on that sun-facing side.

    Taxpayer funding for that project needs to be made available immediately. Anyone who opposes it is a stupid evil denier in the pay of Big Fossil Fuel.

  6. BoyfromTottenham

    Thanks, Rafe – an interesting post as usual.
    I found the difference in volatility of supply between the two screenshots particularly illuminating. In the first (the whole of SE Aust), there were few and fairly small abrupt changes, which I guess made balancing supply and demand by the rotating generators relatively easy. On the other hand, in the second (SA only) the relatively frequent and large abrupt changes in the proportionately much larger ‘renewable’ sources had to be balanced by corresponding large and rapid changes to the output of the gas-fired generator/s. Must have kept the gas generator operators on their toes! Lots of lessons to be learnt here – but will they be?

  7. MPH

    Heard a new angle (video below) on what happened in Germany as they basically have two parallel generation systems to supply the same as ever demand, since the expectation of reliability remains the same and we all know what renewables can achieve in terms of reliability and utilisation.

    The video below is probably the best summary of transition issues I’ve ever come across and any remotely rational AGW believer should then be convinced that local adaptation is the only possible way to address the risk.

  8. yarpos

    0.02GW is a misuse of units, doesnt look good in this type of analysis

    the idea that 20MW props anything up is nonsense, the idea that is has any impact in NSW is also a nonsense.

    This together with the idea that QLD power flows to SA via NSW (and the not mentioned VIC connector) also creates the false impression that power is freely transmissable.

    Cherry picking snapshots really doesnt acheive much and is a very convoluted way of showing wind doesnt do much. The “renewables” luvvies could equally cherry pick days when wind is doing just fine.

    The long term fuel mix stats on the AEMO site show the real picture in SA, and despite having mutliple times demand in nameplate wind they still mainly run on gas over recent days, weeks and months.

    Some good times coming up when that SA-NSW connector gets built. A white elephant right up there with some of our desal plants and Snowy II

  9. Rafe Champion

    Thanks yarpos, propping up NSW with a few MW is sarcasm. Not for serious publication.

    Cherry picking the choke points is the point. Those are the times that kill the RE dream.

    I am still finding my way around the AEMO site, thanks for the heads up on the long term fuel mix stats.

  10. Cardimona

    For the lurkers, here’s a letter-to-the-editor which got a run in a couple of Queensland papers today.
    It explains Rafe’s renewables “choke point” concept in the simplest possible terms.

    In perfect wind our windmills produce about 3100 megawatts of electricity.

    In perfect sunshine our commercial solar produces about 2300MW of electricity.

    In perfect sunshine our domestic-solar produces about 4800MW of electricity.

    When we all want electricity on a hot day our total demand can be 38,000MW.

    When we all want electricity on a hot night our total demand can be 17,800MW. But calm nights are when renewables hit their choke point.

    On the night of January 2, 2020, there was zero solar and just 315MW of wind.

    By “nameplate capacity” our renewables can already produce 100 per cent of our electricity.

    In reality they produce 27 per cent of our electricity and less than 1.8 per cent of it when they choke.

    Our electricity prices fell for 40 years but then from 2005 we forced renewables into the grid.

    Those renewables have doubled our electricity bills.

    If we get rid of fossil fuels, where does electricity come from when renewables choke?

    “Batteries” is not an answer until affordable ones are invented.

    If we need 56 times more windmills for calm nights, how much will our power bills go up?

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