Purpose: To promote awareness of the choke point problem with intermittent (wind and solar) energy and the danger that this creates in the unprecedented situation at present where we have no spare capacity of conventional energy due to the close of several coal fired power stations in recent years. .
The Critical Issues:
(1) After the loss of several coal fired power stations, most recently Hazelwood, we have an unprecedented situation with virtually no spare baseload capacity. We are “running on the rims”with no spare in the boot.
(2) Many times a year when the wind supply is critically low the system will “choke” unless conventional power sources (dominated by coal) can provide 100% of the demand for electricity.
(3) That situation is very rare at present but it will be a constant danger when Liddell closes in 2023 taking almost 2GW of baseload supply out of the system.
Background. It is generally assumed that the wind and solar projects under construction will steadily make the coal-fired power stations redundant.
This narrative is destroyed by the “choke points” that occur when the supply from solar and wind is at the lowest points and the demand for power peaks in the evening.
Key features of the situation. (see Briefing Paper attached)
That all politicians be advised of the critical threat posed by the choke points.
That pundits on TV, radio and print media be advised and provided with supporting information so they can pass the message to the public.
That news and weather reports include the % of demand for power being supplied by wind at the time.
Choke Point Briefing Paper
Purpose. To provide supporting information and speech dot points to explain the choke point problem.
Key features of the situation.
With the loss of several coal fired power stations in recent years there is no spare capacity in the system. This has been signaled by the AEMO and it has prompted the use of the emergency system for back-up supplies called the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader process. [This just means taking power from high volume users to minimise rolling blackouts across the domestic grid.]
Liddell is scheduled to close in 2023 taking 1.8GW out of the system.
Without sufficient additional power to replace Liddell many lights will go out on summer evenings and probably winter evenings as well. If we want to keep the power on and also lower emissions the only option is nuclear power.
In the evening around dinnertime 30+GW of power is required and the wind supply is critical because the sun has set before the winter peak and it is fading away at that time in summer.
The critical question is: can the 7GW of new wind in the pipeline cover the loss of Liddell.
What is 7GW of theoretical (plated) capacity worth at the choke point that can be as low as 2% of plated capacity?
The next display shows that several times a month the supply of wind is less than 10% of the installed capacity for some part of the day.
The supply through January https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2020/january
The highest point was 56% of plated capacity and the low point was 4.7%
The current 7GW of wind capacity plus another 7 on the way add up to 14GW.
At 10% of capacity that amounts of 1.4GW, compared with 1.7GW provided 24/7 from Liddell.
Battery storage of spare power at the high time of sun and wind is not viable – check the arithmetic for the Musk battery in SA. $60Million to substitute for one wind farm for 20 minutes, equivalent to some 4 minutes for the whole of the state.
Pumped hydro is a mirage, consider the waste of power, the capital cost and the timetable for construction.
Another take on the situation – the % contribution from Wind at 6.30 in the evening from January 1.
6, 5.5, 6, 12, 12.5, 8, 6, 8, 8, 9, 10, 8.5, 5, 6, 10, 14, not recorded, 8, 12, 10, 3.2, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 5, 6.
Conclusion. In the foreseeable future (say a couple of election cycles) there is no way for wind power to substitute for coal fired power and any loss of coal-fired capacity will be catastrophic unless some other cost-effective and reliable substitute can be found, preferably before 2023. Nuclear is a strong contender to provide energy security and reduce emissions as well.
Recommendation. That the problem of the choke point in wind power be explained to politicians and the public so it becomes a topic of serious discussion in political party rooms and elsewhere.