FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE. Wind in WA surges to 30MW! From 6MW at breakfast time.
Lets hear it for brown coal! The “ageing” brown coal stations ran at 100% capacity through the night, eased off to 95% during the day and went down to 87% in the mid afternoon as gas ramped up rapidly to replace the fading sunlight. And the plan is to take out a big chunk of that power ahead of schedule.
Have a look at the live display and uncheck the Black Coal box to get a clear view of the performance of brown coal.
FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE. At breakfast time SA is importing power and gas is providing 92% of local generation with the windmills turning at 4% of capacity.
The widget live. Approaching 10am the wind power across the SE is down to 7% of capacity and on the way down from 11% at 8. Bown coal in Victoria is delivering at 96% of capacity and sending power to SA and NSW. SA is showing us the road to ruin and blackouts.
The South Australians and other promoters of wind and solar power are exhilarated by the amount of RE they generate on good days, even more than 100% of demand for some short periods. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis recently released A Grid Dominated by Wind and Solar is Possible.
South Australia (SA) is a window into the future of an electricity grid dominated by wind and solar, and backed up by storage.
Lessons from South Australia can help inform other jurisdictions on how to integrate large amounts of variable renewable energy (VRE) generation and distributed energy resources (DER) into the electricity system.
The problem that they can’t or won’t acknowledge is the need to provide for bad days and especially windless nights. Think of this as the levee wall problem.
The levee wall problem
Victorians who are experiencing flash floods at present will be aware of the way that flood waters advance on low ground. Protective levee walls can be build around flood-prone areas, subject to cost-benefit analysis and the effectiveness of the wall depends on the lowest point, not the highest point or the average height.
That simple fact should not require any emphasis but it has yet to be taken into account in planning the implementation of ambitious RE targets. Due to the need to supply 100% of demand all the time, the grid has to be able to deliver 100% of demand under the worst case scenario for wind and solar input – that is a windless night. More installed capacity (higher levees) does not help if there are gaps in the wall (no input of wind and solar).
Due to the well-documented prevalence of prolonged “wind droughts”, increasing the amount of installed capacity of wind and solar increases the average level of supply but does not fill in the gaps. Paul Miskelly pointed out this in 2012, based on the AEMO data available at the time, and he explained that this is caused by high pressure systems that can linger over the whole of SE Australia on occasion for days on end. He also pointed out that because the “low to no” wind situation can occur over the sub-continent, just building more turbines will not help.
The wind power supply numbers, practically hour by hour, are publicly available at the AEMO site and also Aneroid Energy. Tony from Oz has been monitoring the situation for years and Mike O’Ceirin has produced tables to show all the wind droughts since 2011. This is periods when the windmills are producing less than 10% of their maximum (installed or plated capacity).
The worst case in the last 18 months is a period of 33 hours on the 5th-6th of June 2020. Almost every month there are one or more, and often numerous wind droughts of shorter duration. The table shows 18 periods in 2020 when the duration of the drought was 10 hours or more.
The point is that transmission lines that are supposed to carry spare wind power to places that are short will not help if there is no spare wind across the whole of SE Australia (the National Energy Market).