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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.