Due diligence and energy security – Is wind power sustainable?

Contemplate the risk management involved in designing critical infrastructure. Mindful of the 1929 flood in Launceston the flood protection at present is designed to handle a “one in two hundred-year” rain/flood event. It might not happen in that time, on the other hand it could happen next year or the year after. The point is to make the design suit the importance of the security that the scheme provides.

The gutters on your roof might handle “one in ten” or “one in twenty-year” rains. Other things will demand a higher level of security, up to major dams and bridges that are presumably designed to handle the most extreme events that can be predicted short of nuclear war and really major earthquakes if the area is quake-prone . Not to mention the electricity system.

Why not mention electricity?

Because it seems that the RE component of the system will never handle even monthly events with existing storage technology. Who would accept a design for a bridge that you know will fail every decade, let alone every year?  But every month?

Look at the numbers. RE (solar and wind) fail every time when the sun is down and there is next to no wind. There is next to no wind some of the time every month and often several times a month. Look at last month. Anything under 10% of the installed capacity is next to nothing and several times the line almost touched nothing.

That chart is for the whole of SE Australia (the NEM). Right now (2.20pm) there is next to no wind in SA (1% of windmill capacity) and very little in Victoria (the leading wind states). Across the board wind is providing 4.5% of demand in the SE and 5.5% in WA.

The question is, who did, or did not do due diligence before Australian governments decided to subsidise and mandate wind power?

What information on wind resources was available at the time. Did the BOM know? Did anyone ask? Would you trust BOM records anyway, given their performance with the temperature data? What information could have been used?

Ironically we now have a first-rate system to monitor the wind resources – the fleet of windmills and the AEMO records on their output collected at five-minute intervals over the best part of a decade. It is an expensive measuring instrument but very accurate and reliable and it provides the data to perform the due diligence that might  have, could have and should have been done a long time ago. And what does the data tell us?

Update. Trust the Cat readership to come up with the goods!   

CSIRO wind assessment 2003

The bit that caught my eye on a quick scan was on page 40 Long-term projection of energy yields. “No forecasting system can deliver this to sufficient accuracy.”   So they had to build thousands of turbines to find out that there is not enough reliable wind. Pity about that!

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13 Responses to Due diligence and energy security – Is wind power sustainable?

  1. Pete of Perth

    The decision makers never ask questions whose answers may upset the apple cart.

  2. RobK

    Wind rose data(velocity and duration) has been available for many decades, well before wind turbines fronted the scene. In 1995 I got wind-rose data from the local research station run by the WA Ag Dept. Bom had their data too. Standard practice, in the nineties at least,(I doubt it has changed much) is to do a survey to generate a site specific set of wind -rose data for 12-24 months before you begin installation of a wind turbine. There is nothing new, just a lot of low energy density people plying their trade in a subsidy flooded market.
    Again, at low penetration levels (around 10-20%) both wind and solar are relatively innocuous, then the cost and troubles start to ramp up at an accelerating rate.

  3. It is simply incredible, despite all the evidence, that politicians continue to push for RE.

    I believe a lot of Union Super funds are invested in this. Are the performance of those funds based on the subsidies involved and if so how long can the deception continue ? When will Super board members realise not sustainable and withdraw their funds. In some cases don’t such investments go against the interests of the workers in those funds. That should be an angle for investigation and highlighting to their members. Won’t be the first time Super funds have betrayed their members.

  4. The Data tells us that Morons are running the show …. We need a Trump !

  5. Rafe Champion

    Standard practice, in the nineties at least,(I doubt it has changed much) is to do a survey to generate a site specific set of wind -rose data for 12-24 months before you begin installation of a wind turbine.

    Is there any indication that the information was used for due diligence purposes to assess whether a wind fleet could replace conventional power? Can we find out precisely how it was used and by whom?

  6. I thought wind power was affected by the Goldilocks problem? Too little and it doesn’t work. Too much and it doesn’t work. It has to be just right.

  7. BoyfromTottenham

    It looks like the Engineers have been sidelined in favour of “Climate Scientists” – presumably by the pollies or their CAGW whisperers. Just like Andrews in Victoria has done with responsibility for COVID – ‘We depend on the advice from the Chief Health Officer’.

  8. RobK

    Rafe,
    In the 80s to 90s I was a subscriber to the Windpower Monthly magazine. There were advertised all manner of consultants and data gathering contractors, from memory(digital back issues are probably available).Ive probably got some texts on procedures but it’s definitely standard fare to evidence the resources before committing capital.

  9. Gerard

    There are numerous green policy decisions based on ‘feel good’ factors but no cost-benefit analysis. No-one objects because they don’t know any different, often because of the many years of green brainwashing. Household recycling is but one example – it costs us billions, with little or no environmental benefit – under some circumstances it is even damaging to the environment. All because greens has demonised landfill and incineration.

  10. There are numerous green policy decisions based on ‘feel good’ factors but no cost-benefit analysis.

    That is somewhat incorrect. Every green policy decision is based purely on emotion and absolutely no cost-benefit analysis.

  11. Delta

    BoyfromTottenham

    It looks like the Engineers have been sidelined in favour of “Climate Scientists”

    That’s about right considering the unholy alliance between AEMO and CSIRO where these days we have scientists “designing” the “new electricity grid”.

  12. RobK

    https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=1a0031f6-08d5-4082-a7a7-62f5cc429324

    THE CASE AGAINST WINDFARMS

    Draft
    NSW Wind Energy
    EIA Guidelines
    June 2002

    Table 2 Matters to be considered in initial site investigations
    25
    Operational Requirements
    Has adequate wind monitoring be undertaken in the area/site on which to base a decision regarding the adequacy of the wind? Does the wind monitoring shown that the site has appropriate wind conditions?
    Isconnectiontotheelectricitygridortotheproposedenergyuserstechnically and commercially feasible? Are there feasible corridors for any connections required?
    Istheproposallikelytoexceedthecapacityofthetransmissiongirdrequiring upgrading of the system or components of the system? Will the costs of any augmentation to the transmission grid (eg substation upgrades etc) justified in terms of benefits?
    Doesthesiteornearbyareasprovideopportunitiesforfutureexpansion? Arethetopographiccharacteristicslikelytoresultindesignorconstruction
    difficulties?
    Isaccesstothesitetechnically,practicallyandcommerciallyfeasible?

  13. Rafe Champion

    Thanks RobK, that is a truly remarkable document! I will make good use of it:)

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