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ABC’s Uhlmann gets it wrong on renewables. Again

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ABC’s political editor Chris Uhlmann continues with his ill-informed campaign against wind and solar, warning in an article on Sunday of the risk of widespread blackouts and claiming there is a limit of 20 per cent renewables before problems arise.

“Once wind energy passes about 20 per cent of generation it creates a series of well-documented challenges for electricity grids in both managing intermittency and stabilising the system’s frequency,” Uhlmann writes, without citing any such documents.

That, indeed, is what the fossil fuel industry would have you believe. It was what many engineers believed back in the 1980s and 1990s. And some still may do. But it is not true.

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2015 file photo, wind turbines dot the landscape near Steele City, Neb. Wind turbines and solar panels accounted for more than two-thirds of all new electric generation capacity added to the nation’s grid in 2015, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy. The remaining third was largely new power plants fueled by natural gas, which has become cheap and plentiful as a result of hydraulic fracturing. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

 

Just a few weeks ago, these claims were were put into perspective by the CSIRO, which said that anything up to 30 per cent wind and solar should be considered “trivial”.

“We could probably add that introducing renewables at a share of 10, 20 or 30 per cent is fairly trivial on the basis that the existing generation capacity has a lot of flexibility to deal with the variability,”  CSIRO energy division’s principal research scientist Paul Graham told the Senate committee into the resilience of the grid.

The CSIRO is not the only one to say this. 50 Hertz, one of the biggest network companies in Germany, says more than 60 per cent can be absorbed without the need for storage.

“It’s about the mind-set,” Schucht said at the Re-energising the Future conference in Paris, and later to RenewEconomy, on the sidelines of the Paris climate conference in 2015.

“Ten to 15 years ago when I was young engineer, nobody believed that integrating more than 5 per cent variable renewable energy in an industrial state such as Germany was possible.” In the region 50 Hertz operates, the share of wind and solar was 42 per cent in 2015.

“No other region in the world has a similar amount of volatile renewable energy ….. yet we have not had a customer outage. Not for 35 or 40 years.”

That comes down, not to the particularities of wind and solar, but to management of the grid, or what the head of the world’s biggest grid has called a “cultural issue.”

China State Grid, the world’s largest, and the part owner of three Australian networks, has a vision for powering the world 80 per cent with wind and solar. High levels of renewable energy, CEO Lio Zhenha told a Texas conference last year, “is not a technical issue but a cultural one.”

The CSIRO’s Graham noted that existing back-up and redundancy for the current coal-dominated grid was already in place. Challenges may start to emerge around 40 per cent, Graham noted, but these could be addressed with a range of already available technology options.

As the CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia – which represents grid owners – said in last year’s the Network Transformation Map, very high levels of wind and solar can be accommodated: 86 per cent in South Australia by 2036, it suggests. Overall, a decarbonised grid could save $100 billion over business as usual.

They underlined the need for changes in market rules, that would make it easier for new technologies such as battery storage – or concepts such as demand management and energy efficiency. But these have been fought furiously by the fossil fuel industry and incumbents protecting their vested interests.

Uhlmann further states, likes his co-conspirator Andrew Probyn, that battery storage is not yet ready to compete with gas – another favourite fossil fuel line.

“Battery technology was advancing rapidly and the cost was falling but it was still not an economic solution for Australia. What made sense for households did not, yet, add up for business.”

This appears amid a series of quotes from the CEO of Alinta, Jeff Dimery. It is not entirely clear whether they are Dimery’s point of view, or Uhlmann’s. But Uhlmann might have asked himself why Alinta is now installing a large battery storage array in WA.

As Dimery told RenewEconomy last year, providing a spinning reserve – which is needed even in a grid with no large scale renewables, because even fossil fuel plants need back-up – is consuming gas and costing money.

He said the battery system will pay for itself through gas displacement, in the same way that solar makes sense as diesel replacement, and because of its ability to respond quickly to outages.

This is what has been said by numerous other people. Battery storage is competitive – but not yet fully competitive in a large grid, because the rules that favour the incumbent fossil fuel interests make it impossible for storage to unlock all its value streams.

The 30-minute rule – which even the market operator has conceded is having a grossly distorting effect on prices – is chief among them.

And battery storage has other uses, particularly as a cheaper alternative to grid upgrades. Ergon Energy has been rolling battery storage out in Queensland, and says it saves around one-third from the cost of upgrades, with no subsidies. That was two years ago.

Readers will know that this is not the first time we have taken Uhlmann to task, or his college Andrew Probyn. We took issue with Uhlmann’s reporting on the September blackout, and his warning of a “national blackout” if we built too much wind and solar.

He then sought to portray himself as the messenger of inconvenient truths, who had been treated like a heretic by the “pitch-fork brigade”. We presume he mean us.

No, the renewable energy industry and other energy experts have been working on these issues for years, but have been frustrated at every turn by the incumbent fossil fuel industry, who have been desperate to reject any energy market progress, and to continue to peddle nonsense. Some of which is swallowed whole.

That may soon – and hopefully – change with the arrival today of Audrey Zibelman, the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, who was previously in charge of New York’s remarkable Reform the Energy Vision program and its target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

Probyn has also been guilty, like Uhlmann, of repeating fossil fuel marketing lines that gas is the only commercial solution to grid integration issues, and of accusing Labor of being a “slave” to renewable energy targets.  

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  • humanitarian solar

    Of course a cultural shift is the issue. The cultural shift includes mainstream communities subject to mainstream media messages, politicians and engineers vested in careers and companies with old technologies. Nonetheless, what has ARENA done to strategically offset these fears? What has ARENA done to show working renewable microgrids, large scale off grid systems which function with small fossil fuel backup? How has ARENA demonstrated proof of concept, beyond doubt, to the mainstream community? That’s the point of power to move the discussion forward, not endless theorising, extrapolations, international claims with other grids, or scientific guesswork from the CSIRO. If ARENA hasn’t got an organised trial with a handful of battery storage projects, with indisputable data of uptime, then in my view all their ineffective board members need to be sacked for their lack of evidence based results. It’s easy to critique the other side, though we need results on the ground, of integrated not piecemeal renewable energy systems.

    • Rob G

      I’m all for tests and scientifically proven out comes, but several recent surveys have shown that 70% thereabouts of the public support renewables – while 19% support coal. I think the sell on their benefits has well and truly passed. Even a humble voter with rooftop solar know their worth. No other energy has ever needed the public to be educated – if it works that’s all that matters. Where the confusion has set in, has been when the LNP have gone out of their way to mislead on renewables. It’s the one thing they think they can wedge Labor on – remember the carbon tax scare campaign? (which Peta Credlin admitted was just that) With more and more states going red, its time to try the old energy scare once more….

      • humanitarian solar

        The grid-connect inverter was a step backwards in leading edge technology (from inverter/chargers managing batteries). This was due to cost and beginning penetration of renewables, however without an active grid the grid-connect inverter powers down in a grid outage, furthering fears of intermittency. It also led to ignorance around the value and functionality of integrated renewable systems and many policy workers, including ARENA staff, still lack this knowledge. They don’t know what they don’t know so we probably have to wait until they too get RE/storage installed. So they are out of integrity, attempting to lead policy without personal leadership or grounded knowledge, but they don’t know what they don’t know like the rest of us in any number of fields.

      • humanitarian solar

        I was out talking to you on a phone. Getting more tuned and specific with these levels of the intellect, there is very specific thought out reasons I’ve attempted to describe to peers on this website why ARENA needs to focus upon concrete reality RE systems with storage, with data on uptime with little fossil fuel backup. That is, the human intellect begins with what psychologists called “concrete-operational thought”. This means many people in the community have yet to unfold the abstract levels of the intellect, and most easily understand concrete data and their physical experiential lives. They need to physically see integrated RE systems working. This why abstract arguments won’t do. Because the next higher levels of the intellect are levels of more abstract reasoning processes, and they tend not to evolve until a variety of addictions are surrendered, and they won’t be surrendered until people are more relaxed and inequality and oppression isn’t so great. When people suffer, which many are acutely, they don’t have the opportunity to learn and grow and engage in more creative and educational pursuits. So then, it isn’t possible to be hanging onto a specific rung on a ladder and expect the mind to be tuned to the understanding of some higher rung on the ladder of awareness. The same applies to society. Many might protest that the environment is in trouble, though it is hard to speed up this process. If you have any ideas how to do that, let us all know!

  • Rob G

    Remember the days when journalists would ‘investigate’, gather the facts and present the story without agenda (Think Watergate). Nowadays, the likes of Ulhmann, looks at the policy landscape and says – “What’s my beloved party’s position (aka the government)”. Truth becomes irrelevant, facts are tossed aside and varies interests are talked up or down depending on the surrounding politics.
    What we appear to have now, is an odd situation, where renewables are considered a “leftist” idea. And as time rolls on the ‘right’ are looking more and more out of step with the modern transformation. Hanging onto such labelling will only serve to hurt the conservative position. Ironically journos like Ulhmann and Proban are keeping the ‘right’ on the wrong side of the debate and giving Labor an almighty lever against the LNP.

    • humanitarian solar

      Your position is biased by judging them with your awareness. It is as if you think they really know and they are not acting. No they don’t. They are not convinced by the technology. On the other side of the debate, you see Giles theorising about how little storage RE needs. If you look astutely, you can see it’s a polarity, with one side wanting guarantees of security and Giles side wanting to move forward with environmental imperatives. This is how it is happening and why the country has been stuck. ARENA and Renew Economy are playing out a polarity with the mainstream, by not focusing upon grounded results. Results results results. Reassurance. Dissolving people fears. Smacking faces with real data not theoretical data. Results.

      • Rob G

        I’m aware that some lack of knowledge is at play here, but my point is writers like Uhlmann are duty bound by their profession to do their research – not just speculate or assume that his party of preference is correct. There is more than enough evidence out there to pretty much ‘refute’ many of the claims he makes (think Germany, Scotland, Sweden and Denmark for wind farms). If a journalist does an article on education they often cite public education in Finland – but when renewables are discussed you get virtually no overseas comparisons (unless they use half truths about how bad they are) Where are the conversations about California’s 50% renewable target? While LNPers trash SA’s target as “pie in the sky” stuff, journalists like Uhlmann should, in part, be ‘educating them’ too. His dishonesty is keeping many ill informed in the dark.

        • humanitarian solar

          You’re right and you realise of course, your still judging his research is inadequate. I’m not aware Uhlmann excussively works in journalism related to energy security. Journalists do write on diverse topics and perhaps this could be considered a little out of integrity, but again that would be judging. The reason is when people think they know, they don’t know what they don’t know. In a way this is a blessing because if people knew the extent of what they didn’t know, how far to travel to compentency, even though all can attain competency, they would look ahead and see it could be generations stretching out ahead and they would feel overwhelmed. So it really does work best the way it is, that we don’t know what we dont know, so we can all release judging each other for it. It frees the mind and makes it relaxed and compassionate.

          • Rob G

            Here’s an example of ‘good’ journalism by someone who spoke to all sides of the energy industry. By the end of this doco a lay person should feel pretty clear as to the directions within the energy market.
            http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2014/07/07/4038488.htm

          • humanitarian solar

            Ok i will because im interested in learning more and its all relative.

          • Rod

            I wonder if they run re-runs of 4 corners.
            Buckley’s chance of getting a similar piece these days with the board stacked with LNP picks.

          • Alastair Leith

            Yep it’s re-run a few times the same week and all ABC shows available “on demand” i.e. online for a few weeks after screening.

            The Age of Consequences, from PBS International, directed by Jared P Scott and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 20th March at 8.30pm EDT. It is replayed on Tuesday 21st March at 10.00am and Wednesday 22nd at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm AEST, and at ABC iview.

            http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2017/03/20/4637278.htm

          • Alastair Leith

            This is actually a doco that was cut down for 4Corners I believe. Doco is touring ATM and so is one of the people interviewed, Sherri Goodman, a former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security.

            Details here: http://www.climatecodered.org/2017/03/meet-sherri-goodman-who-in-two-words.html

          • Rod

            Thanks Alastair,
            I’ll record Wednesday’s run

          • Alastair Leith

            You have a lot to say for somebody who sees so little of what is happening. If you can’t spot Uhlmanns motivated writing then you should just give up the critiquing job. Try using your real name and you might think twice before putting keyboard to the sword.

          • humanitarian solar

            No your just plain judgmental and like to demonise others, without any qualifications or experience in working with people in a therapeutic setting. This is why your intellect won’t rise to any height and from the last conversation, how it is your feelings remain largely unconscious and lacking integration. And no it’s not as you said that I “don’t like people”. If I don’t like people, I would only be hurting myself with toxic judgments. It is you who thinks things aren’t moving fast enough, with your naive “transform now grid” efforts, which is really a big judgment with you feeling you need to yell campaigns at people. I direct my energies to furthering my education, meditation and permaculture.

      • Brian Tehan

        The energy market/system is very complex, technically and, in my opinion, beyond the ken of Chris Uhlmann who has no technical qualifications or experience. He just spouts the propaganda coming from the fossil fuel incumbents. They deliberately simplify the issues to convince the uninformed and, I imagine that the simplistic explanation makes sense to someone like Uhlmann. Here’s an idea for the ABC, when you have a very complex subject like power, how about getting someone with a technical background and analytical abilities to look at it.
        As for Probyn, every time he comes on, I think I’m listening to a very bad edition of a Current Affair.

        • humanitarian solar

          I tend not to the read the ABC news because there’s no feedback mechanism for authors from the community, so it can’t really be terribly in touch, except as an informative channel for the evolution of misconceptions from the echo chambers in the present government.

        • Alastair Leith

          Always felt Uhlmann should be on Ch Nine where his ilk thrive (Mike Munro comes to mind with a similar used car salesman smile, which is unkind to used car salesman everywhere).

          Thing about Uhlmann is he’s been going out of his way to develop this story, but in a very motivated, and I’d argue biased way. He falls for industry propaganda all the time and when he examines primary evidence he says the dumbest things to support unsupportable conclusions. There was a good comment by Tristan Edis (I think it was) about Uhlmann’s “super-sleuthing” abilities. This goes way beyond reportage, it’s Fox News level “investigative comment”. The echo chamber for his prejudices interview he did with anti-wind Xenophon the night of the system black was absurd and plainly irresponsible and yet he gets a gold star from Auntie and continues to produces more of the same garbage.

      • Alastair Leith

        Rubbish, 83% of voters in marginal electorates in WA at the recent election choose Renewable energy as the best energy source for the future. In one electorate 100% of One Nation voters prefered renewables (small sample though admittedly). There is almost universal public support for renewables, the politicians are being paid to have tin ears on this subject, including ALP. Why else do you think QLD ALP are prepared to put taxpayer money into a coal mine like Adani’s which would raise emissions demonstrably. It beggars belief, and we know why, the power of money, captured politicians on both sides of the chambers and lack of federal and state ICACs except in NSW.

        • humanitarian solar

          Yes Australians prefer renewable energy. They also want energy security with cost effectiveness. Superficial arguments about the cost of generation are insufficient. Renewable energy is new and it hasn’t been demonstrated to be a complete solution and “possibly” requires significant fossil fuel backup. I know the extent of what it needs. I’ve installed two systems and understand equipment diagrams of microgrids and projects in developing countries with intermittent grids. You don’t. So getting back to Australia, name one complete and cost effective microgrid in the country and the % of fossil fuel backup it requires?

    • Alastair Leith

      Problem is Labor hasn’t been the slightest bit interested in prosecuting Liberals on Climate and Renewables in the policy stakes. 50% RE by 2030 is nothing like what we need. Kevin Anderson of Tyndall Centre says historically high p.c. emitters (we’re one of the highest if not No1) should be at net zero emissions by 2035. Allowing developing nations to get there no later than 2050. To be at zero emissions by 2035 would mean needing to get the grid to 100% RE ASAP ten-year transition as advocated by BZE in 2010 really, because there’s so much beyond the electricity grid in emissions.

      In WA, electricity on the SWIS accounts for but 33% of energy emissions and but 25% of total GHG emissions (using UNFCCC accounting method which i’d argue misses and minimises too many emissions sources). So before we electrify the entire land transport system, and industrial process and all space and water heating, we want to get the supply 100% RE not burning coal and gas to electrify those processes (even though it would be a partial emissions reduction to use fossil grid 15% RE electricity in some cases like heat pumps and potentially EVs if efficiencies improved a bit more).

      And at the recent WA state election WA ALP ran a mile from the sensible option of their own WARET. Almost as if they were allergic to such a notion, now I wonder why that might be the case?!

  • john

    I seem to remember last year where the blackout performance of Germany which has a fair percentage of RE in the Grid outperformed Australia.
    The awful aspect of the price of power is the continued gaming especially in Queensland where the Coal Fired Generators bid up the price to such an extent that it exceeded the price even in SA.

    It is indeed not very good when the said person employed by the ABC continues to publish ill informed articles.
    One could understand others of the Bolt elk doing this.
    We do as i continue to say live in the age of the educated idiot, and because of this aspect to society fake information will continue to be more prevalent.

    • humanitarian solar

      Your judging. Ulhmann would really have thought the wind turbines were to blame and really is scared of grid security. If you keep judging, your preventing yourself seeing the situation clearly. The reason I can is an education of the levels of the intellect. There really are people who cannot see things from multiple contexts and multiple disciplines and fields, and they are hence biased, imagine renewable energy really has significant shortfalls, can’t see a golden age of free energy after the build, and really do have significant fears. When these people write in mainstream media, they strike a sympathetic note because they genuinely share some of the fears still lingering around out there.

      • john

        Well just consider if most of the households that export their excess PV generated energy were to put in batteries then a very large backup system would be in place and the high demand situations would be flattened out to a large degree especially the late afternoon duck tail curve.
        I can understand the fear however other countries have benefited and indeed Australia is now

        • humanitarian solar

          Yes there will be cultural tipping points when enough of the culture get RE/storage.

    • Tom

      Maybe that’s true about Uhlmann, but think of the exclusive interviews he will be being offered in Canberra’s corridors of power. First to hear the juice, first to publish the scoop.

      A journo’s got to do what a journo’s got to do.

  • George Takacs

    While some people write about energy, Chris Uhlmann wrongs about it. Every time.

    • Ken Dyer

      Well, do something about it. (I did) Write to the ABC http://www.abc.net.au/news/contact/feedback/ and tell them what you think of Uhlman and Probyn and their fake news. After all, the ABC is the people’s news, funded by the taxpayer. We all deserve the truth, a very rare commodity nowadays. The only ones you find cheering them on is that One Nation idiot, Malcolm Roberts, and coal fondler Morrison. (also the coal lobby)

      • Rod

        Let us know when you get a reply from Auntie Guthrie.
        LNP mole. (the furry burrowing type)
        I’m thinking there must be a separate truth in reporting body?

        • Ken Dyer

          I wish.

    • Alastair Leith

      And Uhlmann declares himself the bearer of inconvenient truths to which there are few “admissions” from the renewable advocates.

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of condescension from someone in the media, let alone the ABC. Condescension from a novice punter on the Energy beat who clearly doesn’t even half-understand most of the things he talks about around Energy economics and engineering, frequently stating plainly wrong ‘alternative facts’. Ulmhann should be traded to his natural home on Ch Nine where bullshit rates, and stick to writing Canberra gossip columns and pronouncements about his warrior god-hero Tony Abboott.

  • Rod

    Bolt’s article in our Murdoch rag today was saying the same thing almost word for word.
    Good old cut and paste journalism.
    They must get a weekly fax from the Mad Monk

    • Alastair Leith

      Would be bolt taking notes from Uhlmann I expect, you taxes at work.

  • trackdaze

    Who will lodge a complaint then?

  • Patrick Comerford

    The big business mode of operation when it comes to combating any adverse effect on their bottom line is as we have seen time and time again is to “buy” the Uhlmans and Probyns of the media to run their cause. It also greatly helps if you can buy a government or two and throw in some “think tanks”. Think big Tobacco, think big Auto, think big Oil, think big Pharma and think big Coal, they use the same play-sheet every time.

    • humanitarian solar

      Yes every person on the Earth does, has thinking based upon what they value and place their security in, stocks in, time into, knowledge of, peer relationships, experiential background of their family and culture, all their lived experience. It’s just how it is. They’re no different from us. Yes there are probably what we might call groups of interrelated elite “echo chambers”, of whom these groups have a sense of historical entitlement to their privilege, SES and influence in society. And websites like Renew Economy exist because people intuit something new is happening, cracks are appearing and old structures are gradually crumbling apart. Speeding the process up, involves thinking carefully how to work with the timing of the national discussion.

      • nakedChimp

        Sounds a bit like psychohistory from Asimov.

        • humanitarian solar

          Haven’t read Asimov though sounds good, psychological development mirrored in history. I’ve mentioned parts of Piaget’s stages of development which is the most common theory when I went to uni.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget#Stages

  • Miles Harding

    For Uhlmann to be good dinosaur, he has to base his thinking on information that available in the triassic, a practise not uncommon with other fossil fool fans.

    Where does this 20% come from?
    I suspect that it is roughly the amount of renewables that can be fully utilised* and cause no disruption to a 1980’s electricity grid that is otherwise entirely supplied by rotating machinery.

    SA could be the first wide area grid that will have periods where no rotating machinery is on-line, in which case, frequency stability should be greatly improved by solid state inverters and their high accuracy frequency sources. (or be forced to sync with an AC interconnector)

    * all of the output can be absorbed into the grid at all times sunny and windy

    • Alastair Leith

      First in Australia, two states in Germany are >100% Net RE and Scotland must be very close by now, certainly on some days.

  • geraldf

    Nick Xenophon is saying the same thing, he’s trotted out an aged set of documents and saying that Weatherill basically has ignored advice

    • Marcus Hicks

      Why listen to the bloke whose vote helped to privatize SA’s power network?

  • Colin Nicholson

    Funny that the UK at this very moment is generating 28% of its electricity via wind

    • DevMac

      That’s probably lower than the percentage at the time when the Farage was blowing.

    • Brunel

      There is a HVDC line from England to France and another under construction from England to Norway.

      SA should get a UHVDC link to another state. Unlike England, it would not even need to be an undersea one!

      • egriff5514

        There’s an HVDC link from Scotland to England nearing completion off the west coast of Scotland right now… google ‘Western HVDC link’.

        Putting it under the sea has got to be quicker and less obtrusive than a pylon line?

        (There are 4GW of interconnectors into UK right now and another 7GW building/in planning)

      • Ren Stimpy

        I’m not 100% convinced that a SA – NSW interconnector would be a solution. Last month while SA was load shedding (homes), NSW was also load shedding (an aluminium plant). NSW couldn’t have helped SA even if there was an interconnector. And interconnectors can’t be cheap.

        • Brunel

          Interconnectors are cheaper than the 12 submarines which will also be made of metal.

          People are just arguing over crumbs while 12 unnecessarily expensive submarines take the lion’s share of funding.

          The railway between Adelaide and Darwin gets worn out over time – do interconnectors wear out? Not to my knowledge. I have never read “the electrons have worn out the high voltage wires and now the wires need to be replaced”.

          ie, once built, the interconnector will need very little maintenance over the next 50 years.

          I have been saying there should be a UHVDC transmission line from WA to NSW and if I look at the temperatures on 11 Jan 2017:

          Perth reached 30C at 7am UTC and Sydney reached 31C at 4am UTC.

          (I am not sure what time zone the BoM is talking about).

          • Ren Stimpy

            It would help if you compared apples with apples.

          • Brunel

            What apples are you on about.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Comparing UHVDC lines with submarines is not exactly comparing apples with apples.

          • Ren Stimpy

            You fucking idiot.

          • Brunel

            Yep, let the voters argue over crumbs while 12 unnecessary and unnecessarily expensive submarines get $50 – 100 billion.

            While negative gearing handouts cost something like $10 billion per year.

            While the Vic Government pays $60m/year to host an F1 race.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Don’t know why I gave myself an uppercut it’s probably a fair enough point. I think the defense budget is detached from the other parts of the budget, so even if they did make savings on military hardware that money wouldn’t automatically be spent on regular things such as electricity networks. But I don’t know enough about the budget process to really say.

            I do know they can save a billion – or more like not waste a billion – by letting Adani build their own rail line to the middle of nowhere. Would a billion cover a UHVDC line? It would buy a lot of storage, and we’d be spending our money on our own energy security instead of India’s.

  • DevMac

    “A cultural issue”. The many definitions of culture:

    “a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period”

    “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group”

    “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another”

    In other words: The status quo. Yes, that is definitely the problem. Fear of change, fear of a new power dynamic. There are very few actual practical limitations. Use of the word “cultural” isn’t insulting enough to those spruiking falsehoods.

    • humanitarian solar

      Yes to any person working in human services and social science of any kind, it is enough, because what you’ve just described takes generations to surpass. This status quo your referring to is a spectrum with varying levels of depth.

    • Ren Stimpy

      It’s also the stuff that grows in petri dishes.

  • Chris Fraser

    Chris’ ABC piece did appear to leave out the transformative power of storage – which several corners of the industry have been crying out for. Chris has forecast the demise of the local Barra fishing, but doesn’t mention improvements to air quality or the work of CSIRO, ever. I would like to read more from him about technological developments of both renewable and storage and integration into the system for better balance. There that doesn’t sound pitchforky at all …

    • Brian Tehan

      Chris Uhlmann is incapable of understanding the available technical documents or issues, which is why he shouldn’t be commenting on this issue.

  • George Darroch

    Who is advising him?

    And what are the grounds for forcing his correction?

    • humanitarian solar

      Code of Ethics of his professional association/s,
      Guidelines and policies for his organisations employment,
      Any larger ethical framework of any field of which he is part.
      There would have to be concrete examples of not acting congruently with those guidelines. It would take someone in those fields to do it well.

  • Marilyn Shepherd

    It took 7 tornadoes to take down the pylons for the first time ever, why do the stupid people in the eastern states keep lying about SA power? We do not live in Baghdad type conditions here.

  • Mike-at-goodbyegrid

    Chris Uhlmannn is either totally dumb or paid by the coal and gas lobby.
    I assume the latter because the ABC does not (or did not, I should say) employ morons.There’s no point in arguing with ideologists or selfish bastards.
    Writing to the ABC will not change anything as the current CEO has been appointed by the Turnbull government. Instead, spoil the ratings: don’t watch ABC anymore.
    And tell them why!

    • Chris Fraser

      … that might be playing into the hands of those who want you off the ABC apps.

    • Brian Tehan

      Personally, I think he’s a bit thick. He’s, sort of OK with the goings on in Federal Parliament but when it comes to a complex technical and economic issue, he’s way out of his depth. I think people should complain because the ABC has usually had good scientific researchers – maybe not any more – and it should be part of their brief to present scientifically valid information rather than regurgitate propaganda put out by the fossil fuel lobby. How about getting someone like Robin Williams to look at it?

  • Robin_Harrison

    This sort of misinformation is part of the FF industry’s desperate attempt to avoid their inevitable demise. It works for free with a lot of the general population who are not yet informed, but people like Uhlmann and Bolt are too smart to be doing it for free. It looks like ‘business as usual’ have finally taken over the whole of the mainstream media. Never mind, the energy transition has economics on its side.

    • Alastair Leith

      ABC needs an internal corruption unit maybe!

      • Robin_Harrison

        I assume you mean an anti corruption unit which I think they’ve had for some time. Unfortunately it’s corruption from progressive thought they’ve been policing.

  • Apocalypso

    Just wait until the electric car takes off in about 5-8 years. They’ll also act as battery backup and storage.

    • Nick Thiwerspoon

      The electric car will take off next year. Already EVs and PHEVs make up 1.2% of total car sales in the USA (1.3% of world sales). Tesla’s planned production of the model 3 will take that to 5% in 2018. But that’s just Tesla–there will be other manufacturers selling EVs at $35,000, the cost of an average car in the US. So my guess is that in 2019, 10% of sales will be EV/PHEV and by 2021 15% or more. True, you won’t get to 20% of the car fleet until 2025.

      An EV with a 100 kW battery would store as much electricity as the average Ozzie house uses over 5 days, so, yes, they will transform the grid. Add behind-the-meter storage, which is already cost effective, and the need for utility-scale storage could be surprisingly low.

  • humanitarian solar

    If we’re spending millions on storage, would be good to have a public databank on statistics of different applications and chemistries.

  • humanitarian solar

    Audrey Zibelman’s appointment is very exciting and her experience in New York’s “Reform the Energy Vision program” is likely to be a very different context to Australia. New York has a population density of 416/sq mi (159/km2) and Australia has a population density of 8.3/sq mi (3.2/km2). Zibelman’s experience may also have been profoundly impacted by and shaped by the wake of Hurricane Sandy, whereas Australia’s grid/s may be effected in different extents by floods, winds and fires. Australia may have more expensive transmission costs, due to being a fairly large grid covering a fairly sparsely populated continent. This may present unique challenges that Zibelman may not have seen before, requiring even less centralised and even more distributed generation and storage – to protect local populations from long vulnerable runs of poles and wires, in a country where around half the bill are transmission costs.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia

  • Rob

    Uhlmann damages his credibility everytime he delivers such dis-information. No doubt he’s planning on getting a job in the fossil fuel industry or with Rupert Murdoch when he leaves the ABC. His mate Andrew Probyn is not much better.

  • Andrea

    It IS possible to be a strong support of a rapid transition to 100% renewables, while fully acknowledging that integrating wind power is challenging.
    As to Chris Uhlmann getting it wrong “again”, (and please correct me if I am wrong) I understood that his claims (apart from initial ones where he interviewed Xenophon) were vindicated by AEMO. The SA system black was due to high RoCoF after interconnector tripped, and high RoCoF was due to insufficient system inertia (due to low synchronous generation.) And according to AEMO, the system should have withstood the loss of the transmission lines, so a system black was not inevitable (third report, bottom page 54).
    As to increasing wind power leading to challenges of “managing intermittency and stabilising the system’s frequency”, wind power penetration level at which these challenges start to manifest themselves depends on the nature of other generators and interconnectors on the system. It is also reflected in the cost of FCAS (which I understand from RenewEconomy has skyrocketed in SA since 2015).
    South Australia cannot be compared with Germany. SA has a skinny grid and is not strongly interconnected. Also, I was astonished at the comment from Schucht from Germany, where the share of wind and solar was 42%: “No other region in the world has a similar amount of volatile renewable energy ….. yet we have not had a customer outage. Not for 35 or 40 years.” Well perhaps he hasn’t heard about SA, which has had lots of customer outages and also about 42% wind and solar.
    There are technical solutions to integrating wind, and there are certainly problems with the way that the NEM has been operated. On Sept 28, AEMO should have run the system more cautiously. If we had had some decent government intervention sooner rather than this fixation with the market fixing everything maybe we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are in

  • Alastair Leith

    “Overall, a decarbonised grid could save $100 billion over business as usual.”

    And that there is why fossil are having such a melt down and putting their players like Uhlmann out to spread FUD from the taxpayer funded national broadcaster. Interesting that Bolt has repeated him verbatim. This reminds one of the Howard years and a well synchronized media running with their own spinning reserve.

  • Alastair Leith

    “That may soon – and hopefully – change with the arrival today of Audrey Zibelman, the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator…”

    Can only hope so, while AEMO did advise PM Turnbull that wind was not to blame in SA blackout, mere moments before TUrnbull and Frydenberg went out and repeated their well rehearsed lines about wind being to blame, AEMO also seemed quite happy to let wind take the fall in the court of public opinion. I’m talking about use of technical jargon like ‘then wind several wind farms disconnected from the grid’ with no further explanation as to the fact of this being due to regulatory safety settings set by who it? Oh AEMO are paid to set that up. It left many like Uhlmann to assume that there is a blame wind argument right there, those wind farms just went and disconnected like that how useless.

    Perhaps this lack of detail was just unfortunate and they’re waiting to collect all the data and analysis it or perhaps it was to cover for their own poor oversight of the situation, the gathering of data during the outages and their own lack of preparation for an event that while not at all “likely”, eminently predictable using basic risk management tools, and it did infact happen, so the causes could have been anticipated. Adjustment of ride through settings to be compatible with other countries with same and higher wind penetrations seems to have been a successful move, after the first horse bolted.

    • humanitarian solar

      The previous ride through settings had been sufficient until there was a big storm. We’re all happily learning together. Some of us have genuinely been confused about synchronous and non-synchronous generation, about which equipment on the grid needs to be mindful of its inertia, or that an inverter can supply perfect infinite inertia 50Hz AC from a battery, as long as the battery is sufficiently filled. So it’s just getting clear that the mechanical things need to be mindful of their inertia and the electrical things need to be vigilant not to run out of electrons. It’s a learning process. No judgment needed.

  • humanitarian solar

    Yes bringing the conversation back to Audrey Zibelman every time she paints her nails I’d like to hear about it. We may as well focus upon someone with the potential to do something inspiring.

  • MaxG

    This Uhlmann must be a dead beat by the looks of it! I am glad I do not watch ToiletVision 🙂