Tony from Oz reports on dramatic falls in the output of wind power

It was known from the start that wind inputs power inputs to the grid would be intermittent but there was an expectation that the supply would become more even as more capacity was built

In 2012, when the installed capacity was 2GW, Paul Miskelly published the first major analysis of the system and he warned that the problem of wind droughts and rapid fluctuations in the wind supply might not be mitigated in the course of time. The reason is that high pressure systems cause the lows and they can sit across the whole of the SE for many hours and sometimes days.

John Morgan’s study in 2015 with 4GW of installed capacity supported Miskelly’s findings.

Mike O’Ceirin studied all the low-wind periods from 2011 to 2020 and found that prolonged wind droughts across the whole of SE Australia (the National Electricity Market) persisted with 8GW of installed capacity.  Outage YYYY V2 (1)

The spreadsheets indicate the periods when the output was 10% or less of the installed capacity. They show the duration of the low wind periods (33  hours max in 2020) and the  the average supply during the period (6% in that case). The data cover the years 2011 to 2020.

Recently “Tony from Oz”, a long-term wind-watcher and commentator released some  detailed studies of fluctuations in the wind supply.

The most important observation.

Over the relatively two years of the study, significant falls in the supply of wind power, equivalent to the size of a typical coal-fired generator, became more prevalent, larger in size and the power loss occurred more quickly.

Frequent outages of coal-fired turbines would be regarded as a serious scandal and receive headline treatment in the media. Similar falls in the wind system pass without comment.

Supporting Information

The data come from the continuous record of output from all the registered generators that is kept by the Australian Energy Market Operator. Each wind farm is registered as a generator, likewise the individual generators, often four in number, in coal-fired power stations.

The observations cover 800 days from May 2018 to the end of June 2020

The number of short-term falls of 500MW or more were counted in periods of one hour or less and in one to three hours. A separate report covered larger falls over longer periods.

The 500MW figure corresponds to the most common capacity of coal-fired generators, so the fall of 500MW can be compared with the impact of a coal-fired generator going off line.

The situation got worse rather that better over the period of analysis, contra to the hopes and expectations of the industry.

People with a professional interest or some other motivation to get into the details of the studies can find them in The Introduction, the Study of Short-term Falls and Longe-term Falls.

More on wind drought, a couple of my papers Australian Energy on the Brink on Watts Up With That and No Gusts No Glory, from Quadrant On Line.

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12 Responses to Tony from Oz reports on dramatic falls in the output of wind power

  1. RobK says:

    Good work Tony and Rafe.
    Anecdotally, my experience with wind power (over 2.5 decades)suggests that even annual total wind energy available varies considerably from year to year .
    A proxy measure of wind energy available is wind distance travelled over a given point.
    These data should be available from wind monitoring sites in the form of “wind roses”(vector analysis, direction and distance) going back a long way in time.
    A collection of data going back many decades will, I think, illustrate very clearly that like rainfall, wind energy fluctuates wildly on all time scales.
    If someone handy with datasets were able to summarise the data it should be an interesting read. I know the ag department here in WA has windrose data records. Im guessing the met bureau has.

  2. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Over the relatively two years of the study, significant falls in the supply of wind power, equivalent to the size of a typical coal-fired generator, became more prevalent, larger in size and the power loss occurred more quickly.

    Makes sense.

    Most of the wind turbines in SA, Vic and Tas are in the south and west. That is where the wind tends to be steadiest from the upper latitudes of the roaring forties.

    Except the last couple years we’ve had a fairly normal la Nina event.

    When El Nino occurs the high pressure systems cross the coast around Brisbane. When la Nina occurs they shift south, and cross at Tassie.

    In the middle of a high pressure system there’s no wind. And the current la Nina has been sending the high pressure systems right over the top of most of the windfarms in the southern states.

    Natural climate change is a bummer, isn’t it?

  3. Texas Jack says:

    Despite all the evidence we have of wasted billions spent on dispersed intermittent energy sources the state and federal Liberals continue to double-down on the absurdity. The misallocation of resources is obvious. Why does nobody give a rats?

  4. Kim Howard says:

    Tony from oz is a legend, I have followed his data for years, and as Tony is a former Military thank you for your service! Respect Anzac Anton

  5. Rafe Champion says:

    If someone handy with datasets were able to summarise the data it should be an interesting read. I know the ag department here in WA has windrose data records. Im guessing the met bureau has.

    I have a project under way to find out what data the planners used to assess the wind resources to set the RE targets that all the states and Feds want to pursue. I suspect that they used average values that don’t identify the low spots (the holes) that will sink the RE Titanic. Or if you like, think in terms of the low parts of a flood levee where the water gets in, regardless of the average height of the levee.

    Tomorrow I will update the post to indicate how many times the falls occurred over the two-year period, that is a rather important piece of information that is missing in the post because I didn’t want to put in too many figures and erred on the side of not enough.

    I will ask Tony how much useful information can be gleaned from the wind rose records and any other BOM records.

  6. TonyfromOz says:

    There is currently 8132MW of wind generation Nameplate here in Australia.

    I have used the Bayswater plant (near Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter region of NSW) as a reference for so many years now, and that black coal fired plant has four 660MW generators for a Nameplate of 2640MW, so that means wind has the equivalent Nameplate of THREE Bayswater equivalent plants.

    However, as I have always said, it’s not Nameplate that is important, but how much actual power is generated and sent to the grid.

    Bayswater delivers around 17,000GWH of usable power to the grid.

    It has only been last year (Jan 2020 to Dec 2020) and the last twelve rolling Months (April to April) that wind generation has equalled, and now slightly exceeded that power generation.

    All that aside, as averages don’t tell the full story. Wind generation daily averages can be as low as 5% of Nameplate, and sometimes even lower, and as high as 58%, (once) and yep, that’s about the highest I have ever seen it for a daily average, just five times now above that 50% mark, and that’s five days in now more than 850 days, as NEVER has wind even got close to full Nameplate, not even for one five minute recording time increment. Not even individual wind plants of recent construction approach their full Nameplate. The highest wind generation has ever been is for one five minute recording period at Midnight 13/14 April just gone, when it reached 5310MW at a CF of 65.3%.

    Despite the weather being a problem with wind, huge High Pressure areas stalling wind power, these sudden drops in power are nearly all of them in High wind situations, between High And Low, when the Isobars are closer together, hence high wind speeds, hence higher wind generation. What happens then is that the ‘fans’ out the front automatically turn off, and they do that whole wind plants at a time, hence the large and sudden falls in power, as more of those wind plants are constructed in the same general area, South East SA, and Central Western Victoria.
    Those newer and larger Nameplate wind plants, with higher MW turbines have considerably longer blades. The longer the blade, the higher the tip speed. So those blades do not just flat out self destruct, they automatically turn off, and feather the blades.

    Hence the large sudden drops in power.

    “How do you like my new Bentley?”
    “Mate, that’s a Mini Minor.”
    “No it’s not. The salesman told me it’s a Bentley.”

    Tony.

  7. Texas Jack:

    Despite all the evidence we have of wasted billions spent on dispersed intermittent energy sources the state and federal Liberals continue to double-down on the absurdity. The misallocation of resources is obvious. Why does nobody give a rats?

    The ratgivers, TJ, are not allowed a voice.
    The virtue signallers – who will not let go the fact they are Morally Superior to us because They Care so Damn Much – believe if we were to have a say, they would be exposed as the posturing fools they are.

  8. Tony Taylor says:

    The continued addition of wind power generation in pursuit of better wind power generation echoes the old adage about doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome.

  9. V says:

    Don’t worry, the talking heads are crowing about the new peak while ignoring the increased lows.

    https://wattclarity.com.au/articles/2021/04/new-all-time-record-wind-output-across-the-nem-last-night/

  10. Cynic of A says:

    Ok. We all know this. We know this without a shadow of a doubt. We’ve known this for a long time. We’ve know that the supposed problem is a crock, and the supposed solution is a crock.
    To pick a name for a long list, does Morrison know this?
    If Morrison knows this, is he a fool to ignore the knowledge, or a liar refusing to say he does know?
    If Morrison does not know this, why not?
    Does he not read the facts himself?
    Does he rely on sycophants to read for him?
    Does he watch the ABC and totally believe them?
    At the end of the day, I do not see how any of this will addressed, until someone in charge – as Morrison is supposed to be – starts behaving as if he wants to put the Country and it’s people first, and starts seriously arguing the case.
    With all the facts available, it is easy to argue the case, but, toes need to be tread on to enforce the argument.

  11. Rafe Champion says:

    If Morrison does not know this, why not?
    Does he not read the facts himself?
    Does he rely on sycophants to read for him?

    In letters to constituents from the Prime Minister and also the Energy Minister we find that they are following advice from minders or Departmental officers. Neither has the scientific background or the time to do their own research.

    No politicians have time to do their own research on complex issues with notable exceptions including Gladys Berejyklian who spent years in opposition preparing to be Transport Minister and Craig Kelly who has got on top of climate science to an adequate level.

  12. Rafe Champion says:

    V thanks for that feed, i saw it before but didn’t real carefully, see the update to my post today about preparing for a world without coal power.

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