Requiem for a failed electricity system

The trouble with wind
South Australia has on average over 40 per cent of its internally generated electricity derived from wind.  This is one of the highest levels in the world for a load with a relatively small interconnection with other sources (the two interconnectors with Victoria have a capacity to supply about 20 per cent of the state’s needs).

Wind/solar generation has two features that are of concern.

The first is that it is intrinsically high cost.  As a mature technology, it will remain three times the cost of coal powered generation in Australia.  It can only compete because it is subsidised by a regulatory charge on the consumer (thereby also not facing the same scrutiny if its support was through the Budget).  It receives the subsidy whenever it runs, hence wind has an incentive to generate whenever it can, forcing established fossil fuel plant to be placed offline.

Wind’s additional capacity depresses prices in the short term.  Because most of the costs of existing fossil fuel plant are sunk, they will continue to operate.  But once major repairs are necessary the established coal plant is scrapped.

Gradually the electricity price will rise to reflect the higher cost wind generation that is being substituted for the non-subsidised supplies.  But this rise is muted as the higher prices will cause high energy intensive industries to close, reducing demand.  Already we have seen the Point Henry aluminium smelter close and the Kurri-Kurri smelter mothballed.  The same outlook appears imminent for the Portland smelter.

Secondly, wind/solar is inherently less manageable than fossil, nuclear or hydro-generation.  It requires its fluctuating supply to be shadowed by counter fluctuations.  This requires additional costs and careful management.

South Australia’s electricity system breakdown
The preliminary report  of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) on the south Australian blackout was published October 5.  It summarized the position as

Generation initially rode through the (weather induced) faults, but .. 315 MW of wind generation (then) disconnected .. result(ing) in … the Heywood Interconnector overloading,, tripping the interconnector. In this event, this resulted in the remaining customer load and electricity generation in SA being lost (referred to as a Black System)

Actually the AEMO had already spilled the beans.  In its Market Notices system amidst some the 30 or so routine operating statements that AEMO posts each day came Notice 516103 on 3 October.  This not only said the collapse in wind generation had caused the system to black-out the whole state but went on to redefine nine wind farms as unreliable generators.  AEMO basically said that the event is not a one-off contingency but that the cascading effect of a state wide South Australia blackout as a result of losing some pylons was intrinsically likely to re-occur.

This finding did not prevent the promoters of wind and other sources of power from placing themselves in denial.  Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute wrote an article in the Australian headed, “Don’t blame renewable energy for the state’s plunge into darkness”.  Many other apologists for the renewable industry were scathing about those like Minister Frydenberg who suggested wind had played a part.  And even after the publication of AEMO’s report, the industry’s propaganda journal, RenewEconomy, was claiming it “raises questions answers none”.

Who’s to blame?
AEMO itself as an entity is not immune from criticism.  On many occasions its engineers have said that operating a system with high wind share is technically feasible.

In public has drawn attention to problems of integrating more wind but expressed confidence in doing so and been hopeful that this would be further facilitated by advances in battery storage technology.  But, as Brendan Pearson’s quote of the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel makes clear, this is overly optimistic.  The Chief Scientist estimated that “if we retrieved all of the batteries made for use in mobile phones, laptops, cars and industry in 2014 and used them as back-up for the electricity system, we would have enough energy to power the world for just nine seconds.”

And in its submission to the Senate in July of last year AEMO, while expressing some concerns about high wind penetration in South Australia, said

Based on experience to date and analysis of likely future outcomes, AEMO considers that it is technically feasible to integrate the renewable energy likely to emerge from the RET while maintaining the security of the power system. In the longer term if even higher levels of renewable generation eventuate, there is likely to be some additional grid support costs to maintain system security and to meet frequency standards. (Select Committee on Wind Turbines Submission 469)

The former head of AEMO Matt Zema (who, sadly, has since died, hence his private counsel is no longer confidential) was less sanguine at least in private.  Mr Zema during the course of a private briefing in April of this year the former head of AEMO, made the following comments

The renewable developments and increased political interference are pushing the system towards a crisis.  South Australia is most vulnerable with its potential for wind to supply 60 per cent of demand and then to cut back rapidly.  The system is only manageable with robust interconnectors but these operate effectively only because there is abundant coal based generation in Victoria.

Wind, being subsidised and having low marginal costs, depresses the spot price and once a major coal plant has a severe problem it will be closed.  New coal plants cannot be built because governments are hostile and banks will not finance them.  Wind does not provide the system security.  But the politicians will not allow the appropriate price changes to permit profitable supply developments from other sources.  In the end the system must collapse.

Mr Zema thought that once network collapses occurred, Ministers would search for a fall-guy and would plump for AEMO.  In the light of the agency’s guarded public statements,  AEMO may have cause to fear being accused of culpability in the collapse.

The political landscape on energy is littered with cant.  It is conditioned by a public persuaded that global warming will bring untoward harm and that the costs of substituting wind and solar (both of which are depicted as fundamentally free) will be, at worst, trivial.  This is powered by rent-seeking businesses, conventional energy suppliers included, which see a path to greater profit from investments which have their risks underwritten by governments to give assured returnsl.

The PM and his colleagues energy minister Frydenberg, industry minister Hunt and South Australian frontbencher Christopher Pyne have been forthright in hitting their political opponents.  In the main this has been because of inconsistency between state plans and incentives. The ALP remains a supercharged romantic wedded to a 50 per cent renewable target by 2030.

But the Coalition has been little less supportive the patronage-rich renewable industry. Indeed, South Australian wind farms were built on the back of federal and not state subsidies and few demurred at their level until the earlier near miss blackout in July of this year.

In fact, the Coalition, while criticising the ALP’s goal of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 itself has a goal of 23.5 per cent renewable share by 2020.  Given that hydro cannot be increased, this means it is looking for 15 per cent from wind and solar by 2020.  That implies a massive and unachievable expansion from those sources’ present contribution of six per cent.

Aftermath
Each state has reacted differently.

In Victoria energy minister D’Ambrosio is powering ahead with increased renewable programs and supplementing this with prioritising battery storage.  She is shown here with her advisers.

dambrosia

This entails horrendous additional costs.  But the state is passing down the same de-industrialisation path as South Australia and if wind expansion causes Hazelwood power station to close will be partly offset by mothballing the Portland smelter, hence immediate price effects will be suppressed.

The South Australian government is shell-shocked at having moved from the frontier of a Brave New World to third world status and, for its part, Queensland is now saying its absurd 50 per cent renewable goal was just aspirational.

Energy Ministers are meeting tomorrow to engage in some mutual mud-slinging.

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50 Responses to Requiem for a failed electricity system

  1. steve says:

    I have a dream. In it, there are no politicians and the world is chaotic, but strangely less chaotic that a world full of politicians.

  2. Notafan says:

    Lets see what happens if there are major blackouts in February on a 40 degree plus day.

    Cheap reliable energy is the least of these numbskulls interests, its all about gaia.

  3. Zyconoclast says:

    Until they can be sued for their decisions they won’t care.

    Even if we instituted a veto or recall option. The politicians would legislate an exemption from taking any personal responsibility.

  4. Nathan says:

    Is it my imagination or does the Vic Energy Minister’s team of ‘advisers’ look like an undergrad comedy troupe? Wouldn’t mind seeing a few more ‘grey beards’ in the Adviser role at both the state and fed level. With age (in theory) comes wisdom.

  5. Entropy says:

    Nathan, in Queensland many of the Ministers look about the age of that crew in the back rows and their advisers look like an even younger set extracted from the same cookie cutter. We are screwed.

  6. Tel says:

    There’s an interesting Power Hour episode about error propagation in climate models, it’s pretty down to Earth and direct. What he says makes perfect sense because those climate models use a positive feedback system to amplify 1 degree of direct warming, up to 3 degrees of resultant warming. These types of systems are inevitably highly sensitive, the same positive feedback trick was used for regenerative radio receivers but eventually abandoned because they were too fiddly to work with.

    http://powerhour.alexepstein.com/2016/09/08/power-hour-dr-patrick-frank-on-the-accuracy-of-climate-models/

    Not sure if this says anything about Adelaide, but if you get through to the end, they start talking about how determined everyone is to avoid being branded a “climate denier”. Shows how far the “long march” through the institutions has gone.

  7. Tel says:

    Wouldn’t mind seeing a few more ‘grey beards’ in the Adviser role at both the state and fed level.

    It’s a touch irresponsible putting heavy machinery in the hands of 14 year olds, but it’s a learning experience. Darwin seems to have a pretty good idea of what he’s doing… always gets it right in the long run 🙂

  8. Art Vandelay says:

    As an aside, I just went through a selection of the AEMO’s publications to see if they report on the costs of various energy sources. While there’s some mentions of wholesale spot prices, these aren’t particularly useful (or relevant for consumers) because it ignores the cost of the LRET certificates (large-scale generation certificates, LGCs) that retailers are also forced to buy when buying energy from renewable sources.

    It’s no surprise that people aren’t up in arms over the cost of wind energy when the government and its regulators ensure that this information is difficult to find.

    It’s also not surprising that supporters of renewables (ie, the various Ponds Institutes) will waffle on about how competition from wind power depresses wholesale spot prices but will neglect to mention the added costs involved with buying LGCs leads to higher retail prices.

  9. Tom says:

    Windmills are a marvellous, low-cost, low-maintenance, 19th Century technology for pumping water to livestock.

    The end.

    How many billions of dollars of theft by gold-digging subsidy miners will the productive class, the taxpayers of this country, have to fork out to confirm what we already know?

    The left are the most evil and stupid people ever born.

  10. Adelagado says:

    As a South Australian I would be happy to endure the unreliability of wind if it was free or at least cheap. I would happily bear a few brownouts or even blackouts if my electricity bill was in double figures instead of quadruple figures each quarter. But no, we pay the highest prices for the worst reliability.

  11. Crossie says:

    Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio is on the renewable energy bus but also wants energy security.

    There are always unicorn farts but I understand it is rather difficult to pursuade unicorns to fart in her general direction.

  12. Crossie says:

    Is it my imagination or does the Vic Energy Minister’s team of ‘advisers’ look like an undergrad comedy troupe? Wouldn’t mind seeing a few more ‘grey beards’ in the Adviser role at both the state and fed level. With age (in theory) comes wisdom.

    This trend goes back to Rudd who had a whole troop of the twenty somethings to coo sweet nothings to him. Since then most politicians have been know-nothings so they surround themselves with ignorant staffers in order to feel superior and wise.

    Wyatt Roy is a classical case in point whom I lay at Tony Abbott’s feet.

  13. Mike of Marion says:

    Adelagado
    #2165742, posted on October 6, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Agreed.

    Friday’s gabfest will be a clammer for all the dollars to build more renewables.

    I suspect the towers that buckled were originally constructed to carry High Tension but not the 275Kv they carry now. I suspect the towers were marginal.

  14. john constantine says:

    Big melbournibad, aiming towards 200,000 extra people a year has announced approval for the next 300 windmills, and also announced the closure of one big coalpowered station.

    Crony socialism is making a killing and we have to watch the feckless viclibs as they try and outflank the swampies from the left.

    Everyone in yarragrad will be told from a thundering bully pulpit that tories hate windmills and are evil, if the hurricane hits america, watch their abc grasp it to beat Trump and help people feel tories cause hurricanes, and that if only there were enough windmills, there would be no bad weather.

    [A tory weather event–how did they miss the chance to call it Hurricane Trump?.]

  15. A triumph for da equality…. equally poor that is.

  16. RobK says:

    “…. there is likely to be some additional grid support costs to maintain system security and to meet frequency standards. (Select Committee on Wind Turbines Submission 469).”
    This point is made by numerous experts but not expounded on. It is my understanding that these matters are actually a significant cost.

  17. gabrianga says:

    Tell me again please. Why can’t we expand our dam system in Australia ? Because the Greens oppose them?

    About hydroelectricity in Australia
    1. In 2011, hydroelectric plants produced a total of 67 per cent of Australia’s
    total clean energy generation1
    2. enough energy to power the equivalent of
    2.8 million average Australian homes.
    3. Australia’s 124 operating hydro power plants generated 6.5 per cent of
    Australia’s annual electricity supply in 20112

    SKY surpasses itself… Debate/ discussion on wind power led by SKY’s very own Luvvie, Kieron with Mark Kenny and Phil Coorey.

    Abbott got a much deserved rest but Lord Wentworth, Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenberg are now worthy of scrutiny.

  18. H B Bear says:

    … with Mark Kenny and Phil Coorey.

    Geez talk about dim bulbs.

    When I hear journalists talking to journalists now I just turn it off. The number of journalists whose opinion I even consider worth reading could be counted on one hand.

  19. Habib says:

    How do such measurably stupid people continually get elected?

  20. Mark A says:

    Habib

    How do such measurably stupid people continually get elected?

    Because really intelligent people don’t stand for election.
    The downside of this is, as the greek philosopher* said, ‘if you don’t take part you let your inferiors rule you’. (* can’t recall his name)

  21. Vagabond says:

    Batteries! FFS is there no limit to the impracticality of such a suggestion! Even the most minimal battery backup to a power system would require an enormous expansion of the chemical and mining industries to say nothing of the amount of power needed to manufacture them. The howls of greenie outrage once that happens will drown out the renewable energy drivel by orders of magnitude. How did we end up in a situation where an essential service like electricity is controlled by the most stupid, ignorant, misinformed and gullible people in the country? Imagine what will happen when that turn their attention to the sewerage industry. We’ll really be in the shite.

  22. Ant says:

    Who is Lily D’Ambrosio?

    From Wiki:

    D’Ambrosio joined the Labor Party at university, and subsequently became an organiser with the Australian Services Union in 1986. She was promoted to state organiser in 1994, and served in the position until 1999, when she became an electorate officer to Alex Andrianopoulos, the then-Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. He retired in 2002, and she replaced him as the party’s candidate in his safe seat of Mill Park.

    In 2010, D’Ambrosio joined John Brumby’s cabinet when she was appointed Minister for Community Development after a cabinet reshuffle following the resignation of Lynne Kosky.[2]

    D’Ambrosio is a member of Labor women’s network Emily’s List and the Union of Australian Women. She is married to Deakin University academic and author, Andrew Scott.

    Uni Labor Party hack – check!
    Career union hack – check!
    Parliamentarian in safe Labor seat – check!

    No ‘reality gaps’ in between.

    She’s perfect!!!

    If you’re Victorian, your state’s energy future is in her hands.

  23. Entropy says:

    Mark A
    #2165868, posted on October 6, 2016 at 10:36 pm
    Habib

    How do such measurably stupid people continually get elected?

    Because really intelligent people don’t stand for election.
    The downside of this is, as the greek philosopher* said, ‘if you don’t take part you let your inferiors rule you’. (* can’t recall his name)

    The argument used to be that intelligent people were not attracted to politics because it didn’t pay well enough. That today politicians are paid in the one percenter club plus extras this theory is now proven wrong.

    In the old days Lord Filthy would make his oldest son inherit, put his second son into the military, and his third son into the local parish clergy. The dumb son would go into politics to keep them from harming the family business and to do what he was told (see McGauran et al). Nothing has changed, except it is now the Party factions that pick out the dumb son to put into politics to do what they are told.

  24. struth says:

    What do the advisors advise?
    All those young’ns to keep her up to date with who is winning Australia’s got talent ruling the kitchen in the big brother block

  25. Nerblnob says:

    My Social Media is exploding with something by the “Climate Council” about “what really happened in SA…”
    I thought of asking what a “climate” council knows about electricity grids but decided it’snot worth another row.

    Do you think the public will be ever so slightly suspicious about the alacrity with which the Wind Power apologists exploded out of the blocks before the starter’s pistol had even gone?

    It was like they had their defence already prepared.

  26. Natural Instinct says:

    I am too tired and too old to keep repeating this (first written about in 1998) – but one last time.
    The only viable solar or wind generators must be matched to a hydro pumped storage system (i.e. like Wivenhoe in QLD).
    When the sun shines and the wind blows you pump the water to the top of the hill and when they don’t you run it down the hill thru turbines.
    Now AM says wind generation cost is 3x coal. A good pump will only be 40% efficient on the way up, and a good turbine only 80% on the way down thus 3x is now 9x more costly – and that is not taking into account the capex for the dam, pipelines, pumps and turnbine – say another 1x. Thus 10x more expensive in the generation phase than coal.
    Of course no wind farm operator is forced to confront these engineering realities by our weak governments and public servants (or comically called energy regulators). They get subsidies instead. Woe is us.

    and I won’t even mention the idiocy of batteries (except for the manufacturers and their lobbyists)

    Why do our governments hate poor working people so much that they feel the need to deprive them of cheap plentiful electricty? Any cost above 20c/kWhr, the World Bank says is too epensive.

  27. Art Vandelay says:

    Do you think the public will be ever so slightly suspicious about the alacrity with which the Wind Power apologists exploded out of the blocks before the starter’s pistol had even gone?

    It was like they had their defence already prepared.

    They’re just warming up for summer (no pun intended). If it’s a hot summer, my money’s on a lot more blackouts.

  28. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Alan – Thanks for a fine article.

    I’ll add one thing. The sleeper in the South Australian power generation system is the use of the open cycle gas turbines (OCGT). They were going flat out to make up for wind turbines being shut down as the wind rose.

    OCGTs run at low efficiency, about 30% compared to closed cycle gas turbines which get up to 60% efficiency. So running lots of OCGT capacity wastes half the available gas. Indeed just converting the OCGTs to closed cycle and shutting down half the wind turbines would be ‘way cheaper than batteries, and would be completely neutral in CO2 emissions. The grid would be much more stable too.

    Which leads me to the point: SA is not only crucially dependent upon Victorian electricity up the interconnectors, but it is even more crucially dependent upon a secure gas supply.

    So how long before the SA energy complex fails completely because they run out of gas? Especially as the eastern states increase their renewable capacity and start to seriously compete for the gas which is available.

  29. Forester says:

    The calculation of carbon emissions for renewables should include the carbon emitted to earn any subsidy.
    It will be interesting to see the increase in sales of petrol generators to at least keep your refrigerator going.

  30. john constantine says:

    Their electricity system hasn’t failed.

    Their electricity system is succeeding to an extent they hadn’t even dared to dream of.

    Their electricity system is transferring wealth, resources and power from the old nationalist proles to the new transnational social justice robber baron class, and it is doing it on an industrial scale, locked in and eternal.

    The sheer magnitude of the sudden wealth coming from social justice electricity replacing tory prole electricity shows how unbelievably successful it is.

  31. sabrina says:

    Only in this country, we have energy ministers who have no qualification in any energy disciplines. Please Google and look at the qualification of all energy ministers in this country, and if available, the qualifications of their advisers.

  32. Tel says:

    Indeed just converting the OCGTs to closed cycle and shutting down half the wind turbines would be ‘way cheaper than batteries, and would be completely neutral in CO2 emissions. The grid would be much more stable too.

    Not quite so simple, from what I understand, the closed cycle systems are much slower to get started so you have to leave them running and therefore even though on paper they are more efficient, you won’t save as much gas as you think.

    With a combined cycle gas turbine it should theoretically be possible to run just the gas turbine on its own for a quick energy burst (at lower efficiency but quick to start) and then run full combined cycle mode for longer sustained power. Mind you the capital cost must be higher so perhaps the gain in efficiency isn’t worth refitting all those power stations. Depends on where the price of gas goes.

  33. sabrina says:

    Talking about batteries, how many countries have Lithium and which these countries are? You will be surprised.
    Has anyone noticed what happened to the share price of the few mining companies involved in Li mining? Do the minister and his advisers know how many cycles the batteries last? Where and how are these to be disposed? Any life cycle data on batteries from cradle to grave? I recently met one of the advisers who had no background in any energy industry.

  34. Tel says:

    Here’s a brochure on combined cycle gas power plant with “fast start” capability:

    http://www.energy.siemens.com/br/pool/hq/power-generation/power-plants/gas-fired-power-plants/combined-cycle-powerplants/Fast_cycling_and_rapid_start-up_US.pdf

    It’s a large and complex plant though, which no doubt makes perfect sense if you are German. Designed primarily to compensate for intermittent renewables. They list some efficiency measures for real plants at 58% and 59%.

  35. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    True, Tel, but if you don’t have wind turbines causing supply to bounce around all over the place then you don’t need fast response gas turbines.

    Either way my point is still this: when the gas runs out SA will be totally rooted.

  36. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Tel – This is the article I had in mind:

    It’s Official: Most Efficient Gas-Fired Power Plant To Be Shut Down Due To Losses Stemming From “Energiewende”

    The Irsching Blocks 4 & 5 are the ultimate in gas-turbine engineering – reaching an efficiency of 60.75%. But its operators, among them energy giant E.on, announced that they are shutting down the turbines effective April 1, 2016. Spiegel writes the reason is “the lack of opportunity for economical operation“.

    The reasons they can’t run them profitably are exactly the ones that Alan describes.

  37. Tel says:

    Hi Bruce, seems that Irsching Bavaria is a combined cycle plant, not closed cycle.

    http://www.powermag.com/top-plantirsching-4-combined-cycle-power-plant-irsching-bavaria-germany/

    So the flue gas comes off the open cycle gas turbine, and then feeds around to a boiler and ends up pushing a regular steam turbine. You get two bites of the cherry, first your regular gas turbine, and then your steam turbine. That’s how it gets efficiency.

    If it’s stop/start all the time, the system CAN handle it but the load falls onto the gas turbine and the boiler never gets up to full heat. So those excellent efficiency figures only come along once you get a good long run at it. The “fast start” boost (as I understand it) throws extra gas flames at the boiler the get it going quicker, and that’s also great for producing power in a hurry but will slaughter your efficiency if you end up stopping again right afterwards.

    Germans can buy cheap gas from Russia any time they want to.

    I’m sure they are not going to do what South Australia did and apply dynamite to their plant. The turbine will sit around until it’s needed. After that it all comes down to politics.

  38. Stan says:

    That photo of D’Ambrosio and her advisers is truly scary. Our lives and the economy in their hands…

  39. john constantine says:

    South Australia has world scale non-conventional gas sitting in the Cooper Basin.

    South Australia also has possibly the last undrilled ancient delta province in the world with the potential for super giant oil and gas fields.

    Economics and frackbats seal off the cooper, and wait for the hysterical hate/rage/sobbiness when the first drill rapes the Great Australian Bight.

  40. Elizur Right says:

    ?Basel III =
    Residential Mortgages = Banks = SYD / MEL = S_Duty = ?
    ???Control Land???? Govt ???????????

    Innovation State Govt’s

  41. Roger says:

    The South Australian government is shell-shocked at having moved from the frontier of a Brave New World to third world status

    Hardly. Reality hasn’t yet dawned. They’re in denial.

  42. cohenite says:

    When I hear journalists talking to journalists now I just turn it off. The number of journalists whose opinion I even consider worth reading could be counted on one hand.

    Who is this lone paragon?

  43. Alex Davidson says:

    Anyone with even an ounce of common sense can see that SA’s electricity system is unreliable and expensive. And anyone who understands electrical transmission systems can see that their system is inherently unstable and certainly not capable of supplying power when it is needed the most.

    However the pricks that are plundering the remaining few productive among us to further their evil agenda will have none of it. Normally reports on such matters take months or even years to produce, but this time the need for propaganda was so urgent they rushed one out in days, complete with an accompanying weather report that portrayed a relatively common and not-overly-dramatic storm as if it was Armageddon.

    Engineers used to be taught how to design resilient systems. Perhaps they still are; however if the SA power debacle is any evidence, that no longer applies. We now seem to be entering an age where in Australia at least, systems that should be allowed to evolve under competitive conditions in response to consumer demand are being designed by ‘authorities’, i.e. the political class, egged on by rent-seekers of all shapes and sizes, together with the twittering class. It does not forebode well for our future.

  44. Combine Dave says:

    When I hear journalists talking to journalists now I just turn it off. The number of journalists whose opinion I even consider worth reading could be counted on one hand.

    One finger. Bolt.

  45. Tel says:

    South Australia has world scale non-conventional gas sitting in the Cooper Basin.

    Also a metric shedload of [plays dark spooky music] uranium with some wide empty spaces that would be a great place to have a nuclear accident. Importing enriched Indians to build and operate reactors wouldn’t be too difficult either. The Indians seem to have done a pretty good job of cloning the CANDU design.

    Big capital expense though, hard to get around the sovereign risk problem. Most of Australia’s problems come down to that.

    Bit of a search for the Holy Grail but there’s a chance they could get it working. We want to be onside I think because Australia could really benefit from collaboration.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_heavy-water_reactor

  46. Tel says:

    Anyone with even an ounce of common sense can see that SA’s electricity system is unreliable and expensive.

    We wait around and let it go wrong again, eventually the penny will drop. Reality has a habit of having the last word in these sort of arguments.

  47. The Pugilist says:

    As an aside, I just went through a selection of the AEMO’s publications to see if they report on the costs of various energy sources. While there’s some mentions of wholesale spot prices, these aren’t particularly useful (or relevant for consumers) because it ignores the cost of the LRET certificates (large-scale generation certificates, LGCs) that retailers are also forced to buy when buying energy from renewable sources.

    It’s no surprise that people aren’t up in arms over the cost of wind energy when the government and its regulators ensure that this information is difficult to find.

    It’s also not surprising that supporters of renewables (ie, the various Ponds Institutes) will waffle on about how competition from wind power depresses wholesale spot prices but will neglect to mention the added costs involved with buying LGCs leads to higher retail prices

    Not only that Art. There’s the higher network costs that come from enabling it to handle intermittent sources and the additional investment on interconnectors. This is what Julia Gillard referred to as gold plating…

  48. Nerblnob says:

    Unicorn batteries are simply the Greens’ admitting that renewables are unreliable, and hoping nobody notices.

  49. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Will someone with an electrical / chemical engineering background please perform and publish the calculations to demonstrate how ridiculous is the claim by wind proponents that using current or even emerging technology, ‘batteries’ can be built and deployed to address the hourly / daily output fluctuations of wind generators in say the SA public power network? Judging by the AEMO draft report on the recent SA outage, we are talking about a ‘battery’ capacity of 300 MW or more, so let’s start with that number x say 24 hours of storage capacity.

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