Category Archives: Resources

Shut Hazelwood coal fired generators – what could go wrong

The weekend has seen a welter of speculation about the closure of Hazelwood neatly timed with a report by the Grattan Institute titled – Keeping the lights on. Victoria has the following coal fired generators – Hazelwood 1600MW –
Loy Yang A 2180MW – Loy Yang B 1000MW – Yallourn W 1450MW
Total 6230MW = possible max 149,520MWhrs per day
If Hazelwood shuts the total coal fired generating capacity reduces to 4630MW making for a possible max 111,120MWhrs per day if all units operated 24/7.

This chart of Vic daily generation by source (omits solar) shows the current dominance of coal – for large chart. I have marked with the pink X where a horizontal line would be drawn at 111,530MWhrs per day. So just below that would mark 111,120MWhrs per day. Without some way of replacing the reliable 1600MW capacity of Hazelwood – it seems amazing that the media run with this fairy-story.

Buy back the Port of Darwin – just do it

I have commented in four blogs on the stupid decision last year to lease the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company for 99 years. Now the Treasurer has knocked back further Chinese ownership of our electricity grid – let us do the obvious sensible thing and tell the Chinese we have changed our minds and Darwin Port is not for lease/sale. Lock the lawyers in a room till they come up with a formula. Nationalize it if we have to – just correct the monumental stupidity and lets move on. BTW does anybody know if Tony Abbott was the first PM to sight the proposal? Timing would suggest he must have known but I can not confirm that with Google.

The Australian Energy Market Commission makes it up as it goes along

Read and weep – Review of market frameworks for power system security 14 July 2016 – No mention of “Elephant in the Room” sky-rocketing AEMO Regional Reference Prices in South Australia, Vic, NSW & Qld.
Quotes in italics –
Challenges in maintaining power system security are emerging because of the physics of maintaining technical generation parameters like voltage and grid frequency. And this was not predicted?

Conventional electricity generation, like hydro, coal and gas, operate with large spinning turbines that are synchronised to the frequency of the grid. These generators support the stability of the power system by working together to maintain a consistent operating frequency. And no electrical engineer told you this before the Grid was infested with wind turbines?

Less conventional forms of electricity generators, such as wind and rooftop solar, are not synchronised to the grid and are therefore limited in their ability to dampen rapid changes in frequency or respond to sudden large changes in electricity supply or consumption. This is no surprise to electrical engineers.

Why not sack the useless AEMC – get some engineers in to chart the future of the grid – wind back the uptake of subsidised renewables – make sure any future renewables pay their own way including the full cost of the grid coping with their production.

South Australia burning diesel to prop up electricity exports to Victoria

At 10.35am AEST Nemwatch shows SA burning diesel to generate 91MW to contribute to a Region Total Demand of 1,992MW. However AEMO at the same time – says SA demand was just under 1,600MW – which I see as evidence that just over 300MW were being exported to Vic. I assume it pays SA to pay the diesel and gas costs to keep exports up because at times of abundant wind in SA the AEMO Regional Reference Price can go negative.

Fracking opponents on even weaker ground now

RetractionWatch.com reports – The authors of two environmental papers, including one about the effects of fracking on human health, have retracted them after discovering crucial mistakes. The ABC reports – Labor MPs call for ban on fracking in WA’s South West amid community concern – The ABC quotes some fair comments on fracking by retired geologist Peter Lane but hides them right at the end of the article.

Australian electricity bills set to soar

Our electricity grids are clearly under stress as evidenced by these booming AEMO daily average prices. On 6 June I blogged – Surge in wholesale electricity prices last week – and I expected the daily average AEMO prices for the four States would return to be mostly under $50 again. Not so, the South Australian price is trending over $100 and the three big States are near $100 on the 30 day average.
Eventually these booming power prices will feed into power bills and the media is ignoring the issue. NemWatch is worth checking to see which State is generating from what source at any point in time.
Power prices set to rise following legal challenge 27 Feb 2016 Not sure if issues talked about in this SMH article can explain the AEMO price surge of past two months.
Yes, Let’s Triple The Cost Of Electric Power! 23 June 2016 a Wentworth Report by David Archibald.
AEMO annual av RRP 1999-2016 financial years. (RRP = regional reference price)

Comments – anybody know why SA was high in 1999?
Was the 2007 step up in all States something to do with RET?
The Carbon Tax peak shows clear in 2013-14 then RRP seemed to settle in 2015.
AEMO monthly av RRP financial year 2016

Comments – SA was high in winter 2015. Qld spike Feb 2016 is a mystery so far.
Remember the Port Augusta coal fired stations shut on 9 May – so SA price increases in May & June not that odd as supply tightened. But why do the three large States with ample coal generation also show major RRP increases in May and June?

Tasmanian power exports via Basslink in Dec 2015 were triggered by Victorian price signals

I should have included this price graphic in my March blog – Tasmanian electricity crisis explained day by day
Now it is crystal clear to see that Tasmania initiated power exports when the Victorian RRP rose through ~$80(per MWhr) and exports ceased when Vic RRP fell back. Looking at my March chart of the 5 minute data from 15th to 21st Dec 2015 it is clear that imports ceased just prior to exports being commenced and vice versa. I have no idea what stresses can be induced in a cable when the current is reversed frequently like this. It is also worth noting that the export MW exceeded the import MW. Here is the daily chart from 1 Nov 2015 to 10 Mar 2016.

Surge in wholesale electricity prices last week

Peter Bobroff who runs the AusGrid PublicKnowledge website – alerted me to the increase in the AEMO RRP wholesale electricity prices over recent weeks.
My chart of 4 States daily av AEMO RRP from these AEMO tables. I have added 30 day average curves.
Chart constructed by Peter of the number of 5 min intervals per day that the RRP exceeds $150.
We have been wondering why this price surge now – which looks unprecedented over 29 months. My power bill from a year ago equates to about $170 per MWhr. The charts show price has been under pressure this year. NemWatch gives a snapshot of generation by source.