Category Archives: Renewable Energy

Clean Energy Council delusional about wind power

Dug out of my files this 9 page April 2012 pdf from the CEC titled “There’s power in wind: national snapshot” – easily found by Google.
They have a few pages of statistics showing how marvellous wind power is at solving Australia’s problems. This screenshot from p 2 shows that if all “proposed” windfarms were built they would power 6,236,602 “equivalent homes”.

I thought that was a big number and sure enough the ABS in 2012 said there are ~10 million homes in all Australia.

I am hoping some readers can check other CEC claims from 2012. Such as – wind power saves “…around 1 tonne of greenhouse gas for every megawatt-hour (MWh) produced.”
Moving on I see the CEC is still in existence – and have a new report out “Time for honest discussion about energy in South Australia”. At first glance looks a shocker too. They claim ” There is a very strong correlation between wholesale electricity and gas prices in South Australia.”
I would say – Post the closure of coal generation on 9 May 2016 – and at times of poor wind output – gas generation and imports are relied upon to meet demand. Increasing gas consumption in electricity generation will have a consequence of putting upward pressure on gas prices. Not the other way around as CEC claims.

Coast to gorgeous coast – Australia has only 200MW wind power at 8am

This NemWatch screenshot shows how wind is completely useless at times. Unless we shut the Nation down during wind droughts we need to keep a full complement of reliable generation ready to go at any time.

Australia runs on coal. See how South Australia is pounding their gas plants – even firing up some diesel to cope with the morning rush. Comparing their AEMO demand with NemWatch shows they must be importing about 200MW from Victoria.

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.

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.

Rival thermal solar power plants proposed for Port Augusta

Taxpayers should be watching their hip pockets. Concentrated Solar (CS) proposals for the Port Augusta region have made news for a while now – this technology involves the use of tracking mirrors to concentrate the suns rays to heat a container of liquid which can then be used to generate electricity when the sun is not shining. Solastor announced a plan to build a 170-megawatt “graphite block heating water” solar thermal plant. Then we hear about the US firm Solar Reserve who have a 110MW molten salt CS plant at Crescent Dunes in Nevada which has cost +$Bill and they claim produces 500K MWhrs per year which is less than Queensland produces from Hydro.
The Port Augusta future solar power scene is made more interesting by the Solarstor Chairperson Dr John Hewson going on the attack against Solar Reserve – and then the RenewEconomy site criticising Dr Hewson. Marvellous stuff as the GreenLeft pixies brawl – considering the way renewables advocates always stick so close to the hard provable facts. I have found it near impossible tracking down reliable evidence for claims made by solar proponents. More later – for over five years now Solarstor has been building/experimenting with a CS pilot plant at Cooma using a graphite block on a tower. There is also a Solastor installation of eight towers(graphite blocks) and mirror arrays at Lake Cargelligo in central NSW. Near Forbes Vast Solar is building a molten salt thermal solar plant. As I said – more later on the NSW thermal solar plants.

Exactly why wind power is too often useless

After posting the submission by Tony from Oz re Queensland Govt plans for 50% renewables by 2030 – I wondered what NemWatch shows now. The chart below shows next to zero effective wind across Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

So in our future renewables nirvana what would we do at times like now? Turn off most of Australia and all just sit around waiting for wind. Or do we keep sufficient fossil fuel powered generators waiting around to substitute for wind when required? Who pays for that? We will pay have no doubt. Vote 1ALA and always put Greens last.

Media gem from 2009 – West Australian Govt backed Perth geothermal projects to generate electricity from steam

Geothermal mine to power University of WA – note the quote “…be used in the design of a desalination plant, which would utilize geothermal energy to create fresh water.” I wonder where we find this raging success 7 years later? Green Rock Energy GRK is mentioned in the above article – they were reconstituted as Black Rock Mining Limited asx code BKT and here is the full share price history. Green Rock Energy fell on tough times and changed into Black Rock Mining Limited about a year ago – April 2015 and at that time the new company moved into graphite exploration. Note the map of Hot Rock tenements still held by Black Rock Mining Limited. Some around Wellington Dam.