South Australian electricity – the state’s suicide mission

Here is an object lesson of the effects of winner picking by governments.  South Australia’s electricity industry is now threatening to seriously undermine the state’s economy.

Back in October 2014, the electricity market manager, AEMO together with the South Australian state based transmission business, ElectraNet, made some ostensibly soothing comments that the wind dominated South Australia system could continue to operate securely.  Wind is inherently unreliable as well as costing two and a half times as much as coal.  But the 2014 report said that this reliability depended upon transmission support that allowed increasing amounts of reliable coal generated electricity to be imported from Victoria and NSW.

South Australia is able to boost wind only because of the subsidy which the Commonwealth’s renewable program and the state’s own measures force consumers of other fuels to transfer to the renewables.

Wind and solar account for 40 per cent  (p.5) of South Australia’s generation

By October of last year the officials’ balm was being used less sparingly.  The head of AEMO, following a series of high priced events in South Australia as a result of the wind stopping – as it does – was warning of increasing blackouts in South Australia unless the transmission system was augmented.  And the effectiveness of such a patch up would diminish if subsidies cause the share of wind to increase in other states – in this respect the ALP has an “aspirational” goal of 50 per cent renewable share.  South Australia’s problems are about to become more acute with the closure next month of the coal fired 550 MW Northern Power station, a measure brought about by the increasing amount of subsidised wind becoming available.

The latest report again addressees the issue in technical language but is foreshadowing major new investment being required – $1 billion to duplicate the existing transmission links plus other expenditures to allow for coverage of short term drops in generation

All this spending is necessary in order to facilitate a shift from a low cost traditional electricity supply to high cost rent-seeker sponsored and trendy wind.  These measures hammer additional nails in the state’s coffin.

Perhaps the ultimate solution for South Australia, where coal costs are quite high, is nuclear.  The ALP has shifted to support a waste dump but a nuclear generator is a long way off. And in the interim, the government is opening the door to the coal seam and shale exploration that has been rejected by green influenced politicians in NSW and Victoria but again South Australia may have less promising reserves.

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43 Responses to South Australian electricity – the state’s suicide mission

  1. Ant

    I’m sure there’s numerous little ALP cronies in and out of government, business and unions who think this outcome is just swell – for them.

  2. Ross B

    It’s okay Alan – I hear they’ve found a solution. Instead of 40% wind and solar they’re moving to 100%. They’re gonna get Turnbull to do more speeches in the state and stand some turbines up the back of the auditorium…

  3. Bear Necessities

    Is this one of the reasons that Wyhalla is looking at its future due to the high cost of energy?

  4. Entropy

    Just think, if the Feds did something sensible and bought virginia class submarines, the entire SA economy could be run off the wharf with the boat’s reactor running at 10 per cent.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    So South Australia wants to screw Victoria by doubling the interconnector so they can export instability to the eastern states grid? Pack of parasites is what they are.

    Meanwhile in Germany the mess that wind energy is causing to the German energy sector is causing headlines in their MSM. Today:

    German Consumers Paying Record Amount For Green Energy …Energiewende On “Best Path To Financial Disaster”

    The online daily Berliner Zeitung (BZ) here reports that German consumers in 2015 have “never paid so much money for supporting renewable energy.” … The BZ writes that leading conservative politician Michael Fuchs of Angela Merkel’s CDU party “fears the worst“, telling the flagship daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the Energiewende “is on the best path to becoming a financial disaster”. And despite the massive investment, wind energy was only able to deliver 13% of Germany’s electricity needs last year – and that in a year which was a relatively windy one.

    Furthermore Germany tried South Australia’s trick by sucking electricity from other countries when the wind stopped blowing, then dumping it on them when it blew too hard. It caused a couple of international incidents and Germany’s neighbours scrambled to pull the plug on interconnectors. Then Germany quietly started building coal fired power stations again.

    It’s all completely bonkers. Woe betide if Shorten’s crazy energy policy ever gets up.

  6. Rabz

    Wind and solar account for 40 per cent of South Australia’s generation

    And unsurprisingly, the suckers living there have the most expensive electrickery bills in the country.

    The liberals not challenging the result of the last election in that shithole was inexcusable and a betrayal of the majority of voters who wanted those monstrous labor morons gone.

    Yet another reason to hate the liberals.

  7. Quig

    What happened in the education system in Australia some 30 to 40 years ago? Did they cease to teach arithmetic? I think that people who wish to stand for election should have to show basic competence this discipline.
    We need a SAT test for wannabe politicians.

  8. A H

    SA should be disbanded and merged with NT.

  9. H B Bear

    I would advise residents in Mainland Tasmania, another of Australia’s failed states, to brush up on their dung burning techniques while they still have access to the internet. And buy a cow.

  10. Robbo

    This is what happens when you allow a political party to gerrymander the electorate boundaries and then cheat their way into government with only 48% of the popular vote. SA has had a succession of really bad Labor governments comprised of numbties who sit around and talk mad left wing politics while ignoring the actual realities of running the joint intelligently. I have just been to Adelaide and I was intrigued to see that most of the locals are blissfully unaware that their State is going down the plughole. It just goes to show that if you pay no attention you end up with a government of moronic bottom feeders. No smiling and nodding agreement from Victorians and Queenslanders thank you.

  11. Michel Lasouris

    ‘Ere! John Daley(?) of the Gratton Institute told me (on your ABC) that only 20% of the population earn in excess of $80Kpa. I thought that $80Kpa was rapidly falling below ‘average’ earnings. Is someone telling Porkies? If so, why? This is related to ‘adjustments’ proposed to the Super input tax relief…..

  12. kevin

    The answer is more funding for research into how the wind can be made to blow all the time.

  13. Michel Lasouris

    Oh Boy! Mr Pell ( sorry….CARDINAL Pell, your Grace) will have to come up with a stellar performance to wriggle out of this interrogation in Rome.
    I wonder in which acting school the Vatican trains its senior clerics to lie so barefacedly? Its worthy of an Oscar.
    It really is time for all religions to throw in the towel (especially West and East Catholic ones) and admit the utter futility of their doctrines. The best they can do is to revert to basic principles; total humility, poverty, and chastity, to serve the people. They have lost the respect of intelligent people long since

  14. A H

    Robbo: NSW had a shitty ALP govt from 1995 – 2011, so I wouldn’t think yourself so superior.

  15. Ant

    ML, wrong thread for that kind of hot air.

  16. Montgomery Brewster

    Just to be clear, building interconnectors actually further undermines local generation investment. Transmission lines, which we call ‘interconnectors’ between states, are both complements and substitutes for generation. This means that building transmission undermines the business case for existing generation assets in favoured of electrons being delivered from elsewhere. In other words, SA had all the local based power it needed through gas and coal but growing levels of interconnectedness to better support unreliable wind made those gas and coal assets unproductive and encourage more wind. So building more transmission lines is just doubling down on the problem again. While AEMO and ElectraNet have done well to report on the problems, they play the role of transmission planner and transmission builder/owner in this debate so their implied solutions should be viewed with caution. The best and cheapest answer is to run the thermal assets the state has.

  17. Linden

    What a marvellous thought, and no doubt that it will be a highlight of Turnbull’s innovation ideas campaign, it’s just a matter of who smart enough to spin a good enough bullshit story to be granted a massive government handout to go and have a grand ole time spending it, all the while huffing a puffing a lot hot air with the appropriate spin doctors, oh what fun! PS a tip to any would be contenders, if your going to tell a lie, make it a big big one and they will believe it 100%

  18. mundi

    So let me get this straight….

    They will build the extra connector to close down more coal and expert and import more coal power from other states?

  19. Linden

    Yes that’s right, I read a story recently about it, they want the feds to pay for a new connector etc!!

  20. Leigh Lowe

    An entire state of Doomsday Preppers trying to go off-grid.

  21. Eyrie

    Just cut the interconnect, Victoria

  22. iain russell

    Surely Flim Flammery’s Hot Rocks project has picked up the slack, after all the money that has been invested in it. Hasn’t it?

  23. Bruce of Newcastle

    There’s an irony in the current woes in the Peoples’ Republic of South North Korea otherwise known as Tasmania. Their interconnector is busted. Which has led to all sorts of fun.

    Power rationing flagged for industry after delay in Basslink power cable repairs

    Late last year the cable was being used to import 40 per cent of the state’s electricity, as an extended dry period depleted Hydro Tasmania’s water storages. Basslink had estimated it could take two months to fix.

    Basslink undersea cable repairs begin off Tasmanian coast

    Hydro Tasmania is spending $2 million on transporting diesel generators to the state to help meet energy demands while the Basslink cable is out of action.

    Tassie has the second highest installed wind energy capacity per capita, and is reaping the problems that causes because they can’t export those problems to anyone else. LOL.

  24. Cynic of Ayr

    I don’t care!
    SA voted in an ALP Government, so tuff!
    Don’t come whinging to the Libs in Canberra because your precious Labor Governmet robbed you blind, and buggered it up for you at the sme time.
    Same in Qld. My mob voted in the ALP, and most can’t even see the cliff coming, let alone making plans to jump off it.

  25. Art Vandelay

    Wind is inherently unreliable as well as costing two and a half times as much as coal.

    And yet the local media, business lobbyists and politicians still can’t understand why electricity bills are growing, unemployment is high and businesses are shutting down.

    They all think it’s due to a lack of taxpayer-funded stimulus.

  26. Ubique

    This sort of crazy, irresponsible management will continue at State level for as long as the Commonwealth Grants Commission is charged with addressing what it calls horizontal fiscal imbalance. SA and Tasmania in particular can only get away with indulging their demented green fantasies because WA is made to pay for it all.

    Reforming this imposed cross-subsidisation probably stands to realise greater economic and social dividends than ending Commonwealth – State duplication. SA, Tasmania and Queensland must be forced to become economically self-sufficient. The best way to do that is to end the cross-subsidies.

  27. Roger

    In the not too distant future the mendicant states are going to put a lot of pressure on the existence of the Federation.

  28. Leigh Lowe


    #1950603, posted on February 19, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Just cut the interconnect, Victoria

    It’s a goldmine.

  29. Check this link to see how useful wind power is at any time – often useless

    Alan – your first link – “Wind and solar account for 40 per cent of South Australia’s generation” does not work. I think that 40% is optimistic.

  30. Motelier


    The statement

    in this respect the ALP has an “aspirational” goal of 50 per cent renewable share.

    should be mocked mercilessly.

    Victoriastan should tell the lazy ALP and their supporters stop pinching our power sp that we can grow our economy.

    That way the the ALP government og SA can proudly bragg that 100% of power supplied to SA is supplied by renewables.

    Candles, sitting around the campfire singing Kumbya while picking the bugs out of your dreadlocks is far better than watching free to air television anyway.

  31. aycee

    Real time updates of wind generation.

    At the most, ~30% of the installed capacity overall in SA.

    Deloitte Access Economics had a report on ‘Energy markets and the implications of renewables – SA case study”. Sorry no link, but system stability will be a big issue when the large generators close.

  32. .

    I have an aspirational goal of making all of the Victoria’s Secret models and SI girls “sister wives” and married to me, but aiming for Hannah Davis alone is probably more realistic…

  33. socrates

    Shouldn’t South Australia’s energy policies, or energy-deficit policies, be a factor in whether the
    new submarines are built there?

    And why didn’t Tony Abbott makes this point about the unreliability of the South Australian electricity
    grid when he was Prime Minister and in the throes of negotiating the submarine project?

  34. John Constantine

    Drill for gas in the great southern bight.

    Then run thermal power plants off the incandescent rage as their twitter ignites.

  35. Chris M

    This is what happens when you allow a political party to gerrymander the electorate boundaries and then cheat their way into government with only 48% of the popular vote. SA has had a succession of really bad Labor governments

    In SA the Liberals are equally as clueless so in reality it makes little difference who is in.

    I have just been to Adelaide and I was intrigued to see that most of the locals are blissfully unaware that their State is going down the plughole.

    Many are aware of problems as they see companies and shops closing and have friends who can’t get a job. But just yesterday the latest statistics showed the SA unemployment rate had decreased… so the data is completely fiddled. No-one knows the real numbers.

  36. Rabz

    SA voted in an ALP Government, so tuff!

    I’m no fan of SA or the weird dangerous imbeciles who exist there, but the statement above is incorrect.

    53% of the TPP vote at the last SA election went to the liberals.

  37. Robbo

    A H
    #1950521, posted on February 19, 2016 at 10:49 am
    Robbo: NSW had a shitty ALP govt from 1995 – 2011, so I wouldn’t think yourself so superior.

    I don’t think of myself as superior AH. Why do you assume that I reside in NSW? You know what they say about people who assume.

  38. Yohan

    The most scary part is, they say don’t worry about the intermittent wind power, because the interconnector gives us backup power from VIC.

    But what happens when VIC moves towards a huge amount of renewable energy themselves? Their own marginal power stations will be put out of business, and their remaining generators will need to provide backup power for VIC as preference.

    In other words, SA’s strategy relies on other states NOT to do what they have done.

  39. Evcricket

    Go right ahead and build nuclear with private funds. The report released last week made it clear it’s not viable, even with massive subsidies, and it won’t generate before 2030. Sounds like a great investment.

  40. Alan Moran

    With the opposition you marshal only wind and solar can get built in SA. Hence the slow demise of the state’s economy

  41. Adelagado

    SA homeowners are also gradually realising their investments in rooftop solar systems are often duds. Solar only pays off as long as (A) nothing goes wrong the system and (B) you never move. 10 years after the big shift to solar the ‘early adopters’ sucked in by the promises are discovering that few people achieve both (A) and (B).

  42. Aemo can put up great real time data as this WA page shows –
    I have asked them to make up similar pages for other states.
    Packed with real time info – worth exploring links – Generation – and Market at the top.
    See wind under 9% now – note size of “Spinning reserve” – ~7.5% of load – Coal rules at 57% just now – gas 34% –

  43. This is a really good thread. I will forward the link to many.
    Look at my Climate Theory. Read the new latest page first.

    All of this renewable junk is not needed. Temperature is regulated by a natural cycle that is very robust and well bounded. The Roman and Medieval warm periods were warmer than now and they ended with ice advancing and causing a cold period. It snows when the oceans are warm and thawed, ocean effect snow. That is a necessary and natural part of the climate cycle. Ice is replenished in warm times and depleted in cold times.

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