Four icebergs in the path of the Renewable Energy Titanic

A second briefing note is on its way to all Federal politicians, to be followed by the same message to State members in NSW and Queensland. When all the emails are collected it will go to members in the other states and territories.

Briefing note Number 2 _ Four icebergs

  1. Wind droughts. There are frequent and prolonged “wind droughts” when there is next to no wind across SE Australia for many hours and even days at a time.
  2. The “choke point” factor. The grid needs a continuous input of power and the critical value of the input from intermittent sources is the lowest level. The RE transition is limited by the lowest points in the supply of wind, not the installed capacity, the high points or the average performance of the wind fleet.
  3. Australia is an island. Almost every other place in the developed world has access to neighbours to supply power from many sources when domestic RE is in short supply.
  4. The Chief Scientist has advised strongly that batteries do not have the capacity to store the amount of power required to even out the peaks and troughs in the supply of wind and solar power.

There will be a weekly report to politicians and significant others in the media on the % of electricity supplied by the wind at 6.30pm daily. That single number probably encapsulates the futility of the quest for the Holy Grail of  “net zero” or even 50% of electricity from RE. The demand for power peaks between 6 and 7, the sun is gone and it is all up to the wind if you want to depend on RE for a hot dinner.

The windpower in the grid each evening recently: Monday 27 July 1.3%,  Tuesday 3.6%, Wed 5.7%, Thursday 2.3%, Friday 3.2%, Saturday 7.5%, Sunday 3%, Monday 5.5%, last night 11%.

The score between 8 and 9am is important too if you want to take a train to work and start the day with a hot soy latte. Check it out.

Currently at 11 on Wed morning the wind is 12% of the power in the SE Australian grid and RE is 30%.

This is a very good day for wind at the moment, over 40% capacity compared with the average that is less than 30%.

Bonus. Cardinoma on the fragility of the grid in Queensland. Condensed version of a longer story told in the open thread at 9.45 this morning.

Our local wind farm has been locked out by AEMO and I’ve been using it as an example to train a young journo on the way things work behind the PR facade.
Yesterday I emailed him this message with embedded charts from the aneroid site showing Mt Emerald’s zero contribution despite plenty of wind.

Hey Chris, what’d AEMO say, mate?
I’m betting they throw some boilerplate at you but won’t answer the question about grid stability.
I tell ya, we’re already at peak renewables.
Much more and the grid may crash…

The following may be attributed to an AEMO spokesperson.

AEMO has informed market participants of temporary network limits impacting several generators due to a large volume of planned maintenance on synchronous generation units in central Queensland. The market notice includes network limits that may result in moderate levels of constraints on inverter connected generation (wind and solar farms), along with more severe limitations in the unlikely scenario that synchronous generation in central and north Queensland falls below historic minimums. This information is required to ensure market preparedness should this unlikely event occur.

The “synchronous units” mentioned will be coal-fired generators and it’s hilarious they couldn’t bring themselves to say that!
Fair dinkum, I laughed so hard my ribs are now aching!

They’re referred to as “synchronous units” because they run up to speed, gently adjust to the phase the grid is running at, then join in, lock in, and help keep the whole grid stable.

That spinning mass controls the grid’s frequency – 50 cycles per second, or 50 Hertz.
If the grid deviates only a little from 50 Hertz sensitive electronics get fried (unless they have protective trip-switches).
If it deviates a tiny bit more from 50 Hertz the fridges and washing machines get fried and houses start burning down.

Renewables can’t help provide grid stability because they are “asynchronous”.
They’re asynchronous because they have no spinning mass to smooth the delivery of their energy.

A solar array might be producing 900 Watts until a cloud passes over and it will suddenly drop to 30 Watts and then the cloud moves on and it leaps back up to 900 Watts.
Same with wind-to-electricity factories – you’ve seen the spikes on Mt Emerald’s chart.
Take the synchronous generators out and the grid will collapse.
It cannot run on wind and solar without building massive (and expensive) rotary condensors to “clean” the input from solar and wind.
Those rotary condensors don’t serve as batteries, either.
Grid-scale batteries haven’t been invented yet and existing chemistry says they won’t be anytime soon.

So that is what AEMO is worried about.
With some coal-fired power offline for maintenance and/or repair they’re worried that if they leave Mt Emerald connected and another coal-fired powerplant has a mechanical issue then we’ll have a grid destabilisation event.
Now, if the grid crashes it can take weeks to restart because each generator’s supply must be precisely matched to an equivalent demand at the precise moment it comes online.
That’s a grid engineer’s very worst nightmare.

Regarding coal plant maintenance, any steam engine can be kept going forever as long as you can build replacement parts for it.
There’s a working steam locomotive in Europe that’s 170 years old.
But businesses won’t maintain machinery that might be declared illegal soon.
And they can’t maintain it unless they’re making a profit, which is difficult when they’re forced by law to buy “Renewable Energy Certificates” from the wind and solar installations that can’t run the grid.

AEMO is run by Audrey Zibelmen, hand-picked by the green-left’s Malcolm Turnbull, and she’s a committed climate zealot.
If it were possible to run a grid without synchronous generators she’d be doing it.
But she’s not, because it can’t be done.


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7 Responses to Four icebergs in the path of the Renewable Energy Titanic

  1. Bruce

    Not going to make much difference.

    The “people” vacuuming out our pockets have a long-standing, broad-ranging agenda.

    As they say in the classics: “Solutions in search of problems”.

  2. BoyfromTottenham

    Bruce – who pays for what and how much CO2 emissions are generated won’t matter a damn when the power network goes black and stays black because there isn’t enough rotating power generation left to recover the system from a fault.
    It seems to me a major blackout is the only way that pollies will come to understand what they have wrought with their fixation on ‘renewables’ in our precious power network, but the country and we Australians will suffer massively when it happens.
    Qualified and experienced Power System engineers seem to have vacated the role of (or have been gagged from) providing unbiased professional advice to pollies and regulators about the massive problems created by our massive RET subsidies encouraging ever-increasing amounts of distributed, random, asynchronous, low inertia ‘renewable’ power sources into a network not designed for, or capable of, stable operation (and especially restart from black). There is plenty of evidence that even quite small amounts of these so-called ‘renewables’ destabilise power networks, let alone the pie-in-the-sky 100% that the Unicorn-worshippers claim.

  3. PeterPetrum

    Just love cohenite’s comment. Succinct and on the ball. Our Minister for Green Energy is as useless as tits on a bull.

  4. cohenite

    If you think this is bad have a look at this analysis of the Twiggy Forrester/Cannon-Brookes proposed solar farm in the NT to export power to Singapore; it’s long and detailed but just the pits:

    Australia has granted major project status to a AU$22bn solar, storage and transmission project which intends to sell unreliable energy to Singapore by undersea cable from Darwin. Here is the LINK to that story, which states:
    A renewable energy project that could provide up to 20% of Singapore’s electricity needs has been fast tracked by the Australian government….. The AU$22 billion (US$15.79 billion) project features a 4,500km high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system connecting a 10GW solar / 30GWh storage facility near Darwin with Singapore and eventually Indonesia. By the end of 2027, Sun Cable predicts the AAPL will be able to export approximately AU$2 billion (US$1.44 billion) of solar energy per year to Singapore, connecting Australia into the ASEAN Power Grid.
    Designated Major Projects receive help with regulatory approvals from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency . Major Project Status is explained at the Federal Government website “Recognition and support for major projects in Australia . The necessary criteria for Major Project Status, listed on that site, include:
    “3. The project has sufficient financial resources and is commercially viable.
    Developers need to show that the project has attracted enough funding, at least enough to complete the approval processes. You’ll need evidence of adequate funding and support such as:
    • evidence of support from governments and communities
    • resolutions of support from the board of a parent company
    • a letter of support from a parent company or investor
    • letters of intent, heads of agreement or other commercial documents, offtake and supply agreements, audited company accounts
    • feasibility studies, business case or financial viability assessments.”
    As demonstrated below, there is no possibility that the project can be commercially viable. Where is the evidence of support from the Indonesian and Singapore and Northern Territory Governments? Which Aboriginal community and which pastoralist has offered 259 sq km? Which communities have welcomed HVDC power transmission across their land? In the absence of answers, the probability is high that no attempt was made to satisfy the criteria for Major Project Status. We are entitled to conclude that no responsible person in government made any effort to review the claims or check the numbers.
    Every rational commercial project begins with a perceived demand. Spruikers for the Australian ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) , which is better described as the extension cord project have provided no indication of demand or need in mostly gas-fuelled Singapore for any quantity of electrical energy emanating from Australia.
    Singapore’s industries include 20% of the world’s ship repair, petroleum refining, major biotechnology research operations, heavily commercialised medical tourism, and frontline entities in information and communications technology. All of these entities, plus every arm of the Singapore Government, will demand unequivocal guarantees that all imported energy be wholly uninterrupted and continuous.
    For the year of 2016, Singapore’s total consumption of electricity was reported as 47,180GWh. 20% of that figure is 9,436 GWh. At the current Singapore price for business electricity of A$0.2032 per kWh, the value of that 9,436GWh is $1.918bn. This validates the correlation between the Sun Cable prediction of selling A$2bn worth of electricity to Singapore by 2027, and the referenced article’s opening mention of 20% of Singapore’s electricity which is confirmed on the Sun Cable website . With 2016 a leap year of 8,784 hours, 20% of Singapore’s electricity consumption is the equivalent of supply at the continuous rate of 1.07423GW.
    The Sun Cable website makes reference to 3GW of dispatchable electricity. The figure of 3GW of dispatchable power from a nameplate 10GW solar farm is an admission of an unavoidable shortcoming of solar energy. At the best, 10GW of nameplate solar power will provide 10 GW for only 36% of the time. Let’s accept that we are dealing with 100 units of time, and for 64 units of that time we need stored power. But because stored power is subject to losses, we need to generate enough stored power to cater for 80 units of time, knowing that 20% will be lost, leaving us with the needed 64 units. So 10GW nameplate solar power, supported by whatever backup is required, can be expected to provide (36 divided by (80+36) multiplied by ten) = 3.103GW of continuous power. The Sun Cable expectation of 3GW of dispatchable power from nameplate 10 GW is reasonable and acceptable.
    To produce 10GW of reliable power requires nameplate capacity three and one third times 10GW, which is 33.333GW….

  5. Bruce
    #3536146, posted on August 5, 2020 at 9:28 am
    Not going to make much difference.

    The “people” vacuuming out our pockets have a long-standing, broad-ranging agenda.

    As they say in the classics: “Solutions in search of problems

    Thank you
    Hi Bruce
    Good to be connected.

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