The wind takes a long weekend & signals trouble when Liddell goes off line

Update, Tuesday morning. SA was importing up to 10 last night and at 6.15 this morning.

Last Monday the wind flexed off on Monday after doing overtime on the weekend. This weekend the wind was busy on Saturday and Sunday and decided to observe the long weekend  holiday on Monday. Especially in NSW where it hit the deck at  breakfast time and went into negative territory at noon.

The sun went down just before the evening peak of demand  and the wind was almost down to zero, contributing 156MW towards the demand of 24GW across SE Australia. That is hardly worth mentioning – 0.6% of demand at 2.2% of installed capacity.

South Australia, the wind leader of the nation with about half the installed capacity of the NEM,  was importing almost  250MW of  coal power and the  wind contributed 34MW, rather more than the number in the mid afternoon.

The weekend was a time of false hope for the RE warriors. The wind in NSW reached 70% of capacity for a while and during the sunny period from late morning to late afternoon RE in total peaked at 40% of demand. 
Those numbers send a dangerously misleading message to people who are not up to speed on the choke point problem. It  looks as though we are approaching half of our power from RE. But the numbers that count are not the installed capacity of solar and wind systems, not the average (near 20% for solar and almost 30% for wind) and not the good days.
The critical figures are the lowest levels of output.  For solar that is obviously zero after sunset apart from some battery storage at the household level. For wind the lowest level can be practically zero as well, as today demonstrated.
The highest levels and even the average or the  median level of RE is beside the point. If there is any  need for RE – if the amount of conventional power ever falls short of the demand – the critical number is the lowest point of supply- the choke point. 
After  Hazelwood closed we have been travelling with virtually no reserve of conventional power. If Liddell goes in 2023 as planned we will lose 1.8GW  and then we will depend on a contribution from RE at the evening peaks.
The installed capacity of wind may double to 14GW by that time and if the mills are turning at 13% capacity that will match Liddell. But in January they performed under 10% on 23 evenings in the month.  On those figures hydro and gas will have to step up or the lights will dim somewhere and some time every month. 
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14 Responses to The wind takes a long weekend & signals trouble when Liddell goes off line

  1. C.L. says:

    After Hazelwood closed we have been travelling with virtually no reserve of conventional power.

    That’s reassuring to know in the midst of this Historical Crisis.
    Funny, but I don’t hear any complaints about coal-driven baseload power right now.

  2. Rafe Champion says:

    The AEMO has officially acknowledged this situation but has not been prepared to say in public what it means for all the proposals to go for zero emissions or for any significant increase in RE before we have nuclear power.

  3. wal1957 says:

    2.2% of installed capacity

    I am sure their ABC will be reporting on this at any moment.
    In fact ‘their 4 Corners‘ must surely be planning a 4 part expose’ on this problem. I am sure they will have a panel of eggspurts on to explain to their adoring fans exactly where the fault lies. The answer will of course be that we need much more $$$ incentives for the RE energy sector because we obviously need more wind power. More $$$ will fix it!

    Question for someone who knows:
    Does anybody know a rough estimate of the cost of building the wind farms that produced just 2.2% of their installed capacity?

  4. Rafe Champion says:

    Yes there are numbers, I will find them and post tomorrow. You can be sure they cost more than two or three brand new coal fired power stations producing 30% less emissions (in case it matters), or even a nuclear plant.

  5. wal1957 says:

    Thanks Rafe

  6. Ubique says:

    Because we obviously need more wind power.

    Not more wind power, but more wind, blowing at around 12 knots, 24-7. Twiddling the CO2 knob or something should fix that, no?

  7. RobK says:

    The problem is easily fixed if we all go to bed when the sun goes down. That, and a little further demand management, with incentives of course. Then we just need to work out how to meet the rest of the 18-odd gigawatts of base demand in the wee small hours of the NEM.
    This is magic pudding stuff.
    The plan to build so much redundancy that there is plenty to store as H2 for transport and backup is fraught with problems, the least of which is that the cheapest source of H2 is derived from fossil fuels.
    The capex of a hydrogen economy is a pipe dream because you need 8-10 times the installed capacity of generators and massive amounts of storage system capacity to capture “the RE glut point”which is the corollary to the “choke point”.
    All the infrastructure has to be specified to the maximum demand to capture the surges of such a massive weather dependent system purportedly offering cheap energy.
    It really is madness.

  8. win says:

    Here in Brisbane we have it appears to me unusual winds since about July last year with hot drying winds that preceded the seasonal Ecca winds that sucked every drop of moisture from soil and vegetation and took it out to sea. We had the drought and fires and then the rain returned. We have had one day of the same strong hot drying winds last week. Jobs comforters.

  9. Tel says:

    If cheap coal or nuclear power is available, on a round the clock basis, then there is no economic incentive to bother with storage.

    Only by artificially throttling the “reliables” do the storage solutions become a profit center.

  10. Terry says:

    ‘…then there is no economic incentive to bother with storage.’

    Indeed, the beauty of fossils and nuclear is that the ‘storage’ comes pre-installed, by nature.

    It’s on tap, dispatchable even, for use whenever we need to release that stored energy.

    Which is why any cost analysis of “Renewables” must include storage, stability, and subsidies.

    And they never do/never will because the conclusion is not favourable and never will be for “Renewables”. The density just isn’t there, except in the heads of its proponents.

    We need to get the concept of subsidy farming right out and away from our energy production sector. It has infected the market and we’re all paying into the pockets of the shysters.

  11. Rafe Champion says:

    Storage on the scale required is just a bad joke at present, Bill Gates said it, the Chief Scientist said it (broken clock telling the correct time).

  12. Shaun says:

    I got into a mild discussion (argument) with a member of the state department here in South Australia. She was involved with implementing renewable energy into our power grid. Her enthusiasm for wind farms was astonishing, however the more we discussed it was becoming quite clear she had no idea how the numbers worked, yet she is involved in the policy setting and implementation. She stated the goal was for 100% renewable energy and closing down of all fossil fuels. When I asked her how she would charge her iPhone when the wind wasn’t blowing she could not comprehend that there would be no electricity if the wind is not blowing. There is no understanding in these people of the choke point when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining. The wind farms of South Australia in April have been below 20% capacity quite a lot this month. They see a reference to a 250MW capacity wind farm and they calculate 250MW. Their is no concern for transmission loss or requirements. They think the electricity appears out of thin air as they are so used to plugging stuff into powerpoint and getting electricity. It doesn’t matter how many wind farms you build, you will still get no power when the wind doesn’t blow. Oh and yes she was a University educated nitwit with no real world skills or employment outside of the government. It’s lucky for some that SA is such a basket case our energy demand is low.

  13. Rafe Champion says:

    Did she not even appreciate the industry standard that you expect about 30% of capacity from wind and less from solar?
    I would have thought that they would do some work on wind patterns to locate the farms in the best place, but I suppose she is some distance removed from anything as practical as planning an actual wind farm.

  14. Rafe:
    I’m curious about the chances of a couple of generators going tits up while the Wuhan Zombie Virus is creating all sorts of issues.
    Perhaps such a crisis will need the National Cabinet to take over and rule during the ‘State of Emergency’ that will be called.

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