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Biggest risk to grid security is coal, gas settings, not wind or solar

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The biggest threat to network stability in Australia’s electricity grid is not from an increase in renewables such as wind and solar, but the control settings on the dominant fleet of “synchronous generators” – namely the country’s coal and gas fleet.

These conclusions come in a significant new study – submitted to government authorities, network operators and the market rule maker – that could help turn the current debate about renewables versus fossil baseload power on its head.

The report – prepared by Kate Summers, an electrical engineer with Pacific Hydro, and energy systems expert Bruce Miller – is important because it suggests that the biggest threat to Australia’s energy security comes not from an increase in wind and solar, but from the control settings of the coal and gas plants that have dominated the grid for the last few decades.

It is the result, the authors say, of an economist-driven decision at the start of the National Electricity Market in 1999 to adopt a market-based system for ancillary services, in contrast to nearly every other market where frequency services are mandated with fixed contracts.

The result is a perverse set of  incentives and penalties that has resulted in the “deadbands” of the crucial control systems either being relaxed or switched off, leaving the grid effectively at the mercy of unforeseen events, because the assumed back-up or quick response is either too slow or non-existent.

It says these settings leave the power system exposed, particularly to a series of successive small events, and may have been a contributing factor to the major September 28 blackout in South Australia, even though the issue was not even considered in the subsequent analysis by the market operator.

It also left the NSW system perilously close to failure in the recent heatwave, because there was effectively little or no frequency control support within the state’s grid.

And because fossil fuel generators now have limited response or are unable to respond quickly to changes in frequency, the market operator is sometimes left with only one safety net option: load shedding of the sort that has caused such controversy in recent months.

“This should be a wake-up call that there is something seriously wrong in the NEM (National Electricity Market),” the report says. To illustrate this, it cites an event in South Australia in November 2015, when the inter-connector to Victoria tripped and local load shedding occurred.

frequencyThe problem here did not reside with wind farms: Their power output remained steady – as the yellow line shows. The lack of frequency control came from the poor control of the synchronous generators.

Far from keeping the frequency controlled, the coal and gas generators – with the absence of appropriate governor controls – were pushing the frequency around, delaying the re-synchronisation with Victoria.

(Note: the green line illustrates where inter-connector tripped, the grey area is the frequency standards and the black line is the poor frequency control with the islanded region. The second deviation in frequency was a result of the “frequency control” services.)

And the report’s authors are surprised that this issue has not been even considered in analysis of the recent “system black” event.

“Given that a region has suffered a system black and the analysis to date has failed to question the logic of allowing local governors to be disabled or detuned to be made unresponsive, it is a sign that the prior emphasis on control philosophy has been lost,” it writes.

Not only have the regulators become cavalier on energy security, they are playing roulette by allowing the market in some cases to source all spinning reserve on the other side of interconnections, which can be lost, as it was in the September 28 blackout.

The issue has come to the attention of a small group of energy experts over the last 18 months, but has grown in importance during the recent events in South Australia and NSW as energy systems struggled, or failed, to deal with extreme weather events.

It is now a mainstream problem, given that wind and solar is being blamed for current and future system instability, whereas this report suggests the real problems lie with the control settings of existing baseload generation.

It is yet another argument that Australia’s electricity grid has been allowed to drift, and getting less responsive, by regulators and policy makers focused on economic theory and not good control engineering. This has led to sizeable inefficiencies.

The best analogy used by the paper’s authors is that of a truck approaching a hill. Normally, the driver would press the accelerator to make sure it had the momentum to get up the hill.

But in Australia’s electricity market, the driver is penalised for doing so. And by the time the market signal comes for him to take action, it is already too late – he is half way up the hill, the momentum has been lost, and he has to work the truck’s engine even harder to meet the challenge.

In electricity market terms, it means that generators have also got to work harder to maintain grid stability. And because the response has been delayed, grid stability is at risk, because the network is at greater risk of stalling.

“Integration of renewable energy has increased  …. and the deterioration of the frequency control is often blamed on asynchronous machines associated with farm generation,” the report notes.

And, like in the film Hidden Figures, where a group of black female maths geniuses upset the all white male experts in NASA by pointing out that they had their maths wrong, and that their projections for the first manned flight would fail, this report suggests the maths supporting Australia electricity system’s constraint limits may also be wrong.

“The real-time market management of frequency services has downgraded the safety nets that were designed to avoid system collapse and may mean that existing system constraint limits are incorrectly calculated,” it says.

It blames more than 15 years of economic decision-making driven by inefficient market signals, and a deviation from “good electricity industry practice, resulting in more costs and less reliability.”

Two things happened as a result of the introduction of a separate market for FCAS – or frequency control and ancillary services – which is designed to keep the system operating within a frequency of 49.5 Hertz to 50.5Hz.

The first was the relaxation of the “deadband settings”, which had been tightly fixed at less than 0.1Hz, but this requirement was moved out to 0.3Hz or larger. That may appear to be a small adjustment, the report notes, but it is a significant change in the timing and response of synchronous units to contingency events.

It is, for example, 10 times the size of the mandatory governor deadband requirement in the UK.

deadband governor

Like that truck going up the hill, it means that much more contingency service is required to arrest a fall in frequency that would normally be required. This, the authors say, is an inefficient outcome and contradictory to the principles of the market.

That might make a significant pay-day for these units, but it could also mean that the cavalry arrives too late. Compounding this problem is a relaxation of the normal operating bandwidth, which meant that the governing response of the synchronous generators are further delayed and commence outside of the normal operating frequency band.

The report draws on examples taken from the recent System Black in South Australia, where tornadoes tearing down three main transmission lines triggered a sequence of events that led to a state-wide blackout.

The report says the removal of the primary governing response from within the normal operating band means that there is no primary governor control available for smaller contingent events, such as a 100MW loss of generation.

These events do not cause the frequency to fall low enough to trigger governor action, the response to these events is purely inertial and then controlled via second order regulation response only.

“This is a significant departure from the pre-market control philosophy, and it leaves the power system exposed when several smaller contingent events occur in quick succession such as occurred in South Australia on 28 September 2016.”

TIPS voltage

It cites this graph, showing the response of the TIPS B generator in South Australia as an example. It shows that when frequency plunged, the generators was still shedding power, because that was what the market was telling it to do. Because it no longer had a tight deadband about its response to frequency changes, it effectively provided “no response to the step changes”, the report noted.

“Examine T=9s and 14s the response of the unit to the event is defeated within a second the unit has returned to its pre-contingent loading, that is it provides no response to the step changes. The governors are disabled. Even during the collapse the unit is reducing its output in accordance with the market design. This illustrates that there was no spinning reserve was being held within South Australia, it was only available on the east side of the interconnector.”

And readers will remember that because the market operator had taken no precautions in the face of the upcoming storms, and was unaware of the ride through settings of wind farms, the blackout ensued.

Indeed, another report from RES and Lloyds Register also pointed to potential problems with gas generators: and suggested that if inverter controlled solar and storage had been in place instead of gas generators, then the blackout may have been avoided.

But while all the focus in the post blackout analysis was on the wind farm settings – which, incidentally, have been fixed, as was illustrated in last Friday’s gas generator failure when the grid rode through an even greater loss of generation, and an even greater overload on the inter-connector – the issue around fossil fuel generators has been ignored.

“Without mandatory governor deadbands it is no longer possible for system planners to rely on the response of the synchronous units as the response (and location) will depend on the market enablement,” it notes.

In other words, it is a market mechanism similar to the one that was unable to awaken the 200MW Pelican Point gas-fired power station from its slumber when the market operator got its weather forecasts wrong in the recent heatwave, causing thousands of customers to lose power.

“We do not have adequate control engineering in the biggest infrastructure assets in the eastern states. We’ve got economists and lawyers everywhere, but they have displaced engineering nous.”

“There is a real and immediate control problem on synchronous generator units.”

And the solution? The reports authors suggest that switching off governors, as most synchronous generators do to avoid perverse penalties in the market-based system, should not be allowed. This idea has gotten support in some ministerial and regulatory circles.

“Given that a region has suffered a system black and the analysis to date has failed to question the logic of allowing local governors to be disabled or detuned to be made unresponsive, is a sign that the prior emphasis on control philosophy has been lost.

Disablement of governors within a region means spinning reserve is being held in the other regions and the security becomes more dependent on the interconnection.

When the deadbands are wide, successive small contingencies which were once easily controlled are able to cause an interconnector to exceed the protection settings for angular stability.

For these and other reasons the FCAS markets require considerable redesign so that primary control can be re-instated within a safer and up until recently a more normal operating band.”

And the final irony is that it is not the wind turbines or solar PV inverter installations that are affected by the poor frequency control – it is the synchronous units themselves – which means that the deterioration of frequency control represents a real risk to 94 per cent of the power system.

Synchronous units, the authors suggest, are at risk of serious or catastrophic damage when undamped frequency oscillations occur or when the controls on the unit act contrary to the system forces.

Individually the generators have become used to simply following their dispatch targets (as the market has incentivised them to do so) and not having active frequency control.

This reduces some minor wear and tear that occurs with using constant governor control, but the problem now is that the practise is widespread and, as a result, the frequency has significantly deteriorated, causing undesirable and unwanted consequences.  

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  • Patrick Comerford

    Looks like this is potentially an explosive report. If as indicated this generator control issue was not even considered in the SA blackout AEMO investigation then if any more were needed it throws very serious doubts on AEMO’s ability and suitability to properly perform its regulatory function.

    • MaxG

      The problem is… nobody really cares… and the pollies even less if it interferes with the nonsense they peddle…

  • Peter F

    I have seen a similar report for the US, I think 2/3rds of the gas turbines in the US had the governors turned off or limited by the supervisory system, If generator A ramps too high too quickly, generator B owned by the same company and bid in at a much higher price can’t be called on for supply so response from unit A is clamped at or below the supply.they bid into the network

    Because the control systems can’t stop inertial response, steam turbines can work with a wider deadband because they have an inertia constant around 9 seconds and in the steam chest there is usually 3-10 seconds worth of steam which flows as fast as the governor opens

    Short term response is much worse in a gas turbine dominated system where
    a) the inertial response is about 1/3rd that of a steam turbine
    b) the initial governor response (0-4 seconds) is much slower because there is no reserve of energy in the steam chest
    c) if frequency drops the output of the gas turbine drops because the compressor fans are pumping in less air
    d) adding more fuel initially only compensates for the power and inertia loss from the frequency excursion and is limited by the thermal response of the system

    So about 1/3rd of the generators on the ERCOT grid have a negative response to a frequency variation

    • Jahn Olsen

      Hello Peter, late reply but curious. Where do you find that steam turbines have an inertia constant of 9 whilst gas is around 3? I find differing numbers everywhere, with some stating that gas has a higher constant.

  • DJR96

    The third chart of TIPS B3 generator unit is quite telling. (Although frequency is not shown on this chart and needs to be viewed in conjunction with charts in AEMO’s reports of the SA storm event)
    [ I wrote a report on this earlier ]

    At 16:18:09 and 16:18:14 we see the response due to the units inertia only. Any governing response is only to maintain MW output, NOT to maintain frequency. In fact at the time no generation in SA was participating in any frequency control at all. They were all merely ‘following the grid’ as supplied from Victoria.
    Then at 16:18:15 another fault occurred, it again gave the brief spike and quickly reverted back to the 100MW output it had been set at by the operators. Only this time some of the wind turbines had tripped off as their control programming commended and the network voltage starts to plummet. At 16:18:15.84 the interconnector trips, at which point this unit finally responds. To its credit it valiantly punched out almost double its rated capacity for a second, before it tripped off-line too. Had it been governed correctly according to line voltage the whole time it may well have been able to hold out and avoided the inter-connector tripping.

  • andyfromedinburgh

    At last we hear from the qualified engineers. Great to a well argued report and hope it makes the ideologues think v hard.

  • DJR96

    Long term solutions?

    Let’s face it, synchronous generators are pretty bloody awful at maintaining grid stability, and certainly sluggish and cumbersome in responding to any sudden variation. But there is a MUCH better way to control the network.

    Battery storage and inverters are excellent at controlling a network. Because they don’t have big spinning things to form the AC waveform, and no “inertia”, technically they have infinite inertia. It doesn’t matter what the load does it will always maintain the 50Hz frequency. Only the voltage will sag if it is overloaded. So the whole network could be designed without requiring the frequency as a variable at all and therefore inertia becomes irrelevant.

    So if we had enough inverters installed to make up about 20% of the grid capacity, so about 6GW, with even just 20 minutes of battery storage, it would safely form the grid and provide the best stability and reliability imaginable. It would allow most of the big synchronous generators to continue supplying base-load power following the grid – just as they do now. And some units would be governed by line voltage to maintain the correct overall generation output required. There would be no restriction on the amount of renewable generation feeding in either.

    There is more detail to this, but I’m fair dinkum about this and would relish the opportunity to take it further.

    • You most welcome to write a piece on that for RE. Looks like you’ve already made a start!

      • DJR96

        Ha, I can envisage what a future system will look like. It’s working out a market mechanism to satisfy the economists is the tricky bit…. I’ll see what I can do, I’ve got some stuff I could adapt. Perhaps someone else can work out a market model to go with it. Don’t hold your breath waiting though.

        • Tom

          Want a market mechanism? I’ve got an idea.

          Allow domestic batteries to compete with generators on a level playing field – as long as they use the inverter.

          On the sell side – if the batteries are full and households wish to have the ability to sell power and make money, then they put in a bid for price and quantity. This doesn’t have to be complex – they could enter it on the internet and only change it once a year if they wanted. For example, if they had a 20kWh storage and wanted to keep a minimum 10kWh for themselves, then they could bid 30cents/kWh to sell the power to the grid. If they have 18kWh remaining in storage and the wholesale price spikes to $14,000/kWh, then they sell power to the grid until they have 10kWh remaining, and get paid $14/kWh for what they sell (not 30cents/kWh.), just as the large generators do. (Clearly the inverter would need to be remotely and automatically turned on/off, but if you can trade shares online, then I’m sure that this is possible too).

          On the buy side, domestic battery owners could also bid to buy energy at the wholesale price (plus a “transmission fee”, which might be 6 cents/kWh, for example). If they bid 10 cents/kWh (ie, 6 cents plus 4 cents) to fill their battery, then as soon as the wholesale price falls below $40/MWh then they start buying power until their battery is full. If the price falls straight down to $20/MWh then they would pay 8 cents/kWh (6 cents plus 2 cents) despite their bid of 10 cents. If their battery was empty and their heater was on and their buy bid was too low, then they would pay whatever the normal tariff is for their domestic electricity to power their house but not charge their battery.

          This plan would encourage investment in batteries without the need for subsidies; it would increase competition in the generator marketplace, reducing “gaming” and price spikes, it would help absorb excess renewable generation when the wind blows strongly and widely, and (as I have learned over the last few days) it would help solve the frequency thing. And it would help avert the “electricity death spiral”.

          • FeFiFoFum

            Probably best to have a look at the trail being conducted by SAPN whey they have created a virtual power network using domestic batteries.
            They have installed the Reposit control platform which is completely intuitive and automated, so no need to have to go online and trade ( who actually has the time to do that?).

            Some suggestion that the energy credit being offered is $1 when the network requires to draw on your battery.

            Simple, sweet, and already rolled out. Just waiting for published results to find out how it is performing.

          • Tom

            I looked up SAPN’s site – couldn’t find as much detail as you’re clearly aware of.

            My understanding though, is that the batteries are subsidised with an agreement attached to them that the grid may access them (as you suggest, for a small fee) when required.

            My above suggestion gives much more autonomy and independence to the homeowner. Instead of being paid a flat fee of $1 for access, they can decide how much they are willing to accept. Selling 10kWh in a $14,000/mWh price spike would net them $140. Or selling it on a hot day without a price spike might net them $3 (at $300/MWh wholesale).

            “Who actually has the time to do that?” – A lot of share traders decide “If these shares I own reach $8.00, I’m selling out”, so they log in, enter a sell order for $8.00, and that sell order stays for days/ weeks until it times out. People could do the same with their stored energy (except without the time-out function).

            Battery owners like autonomy – they don’t like a “take it or leave it” offer made by a big company who they know is making money out of them.

            This is my answer to the “Market Mechanisms” that DJR96 was after.

          • FeFiFoFum

            Probably should clarify what I meant.

            I’m not an expert and I don’t live in SA but what I found out is that the control platform includes; customer load prediction, battery state of charge and PV generation, customer tariff structure, and it does a continuous calculation to optimise energy flow leading to dynamic optimisation of economic returns to the customer.
            It also takes into account the weather forecast as well as whole sale market events.
            The priority is to ensure the customer has sufficient storage in the event of a network issue, ( using the weather forecast and market info on network events) so self consumption and not supply to the grid, and then economic returns to the customer is the next criteria.

            I’m not so sure that battery owners are so fussed on autonomy when offered an incentive such as a 50% discounted battery package, as well as a return of a $1 kWh energy credit when the network requests they discharge your battery to support the network ( community service?).

            As far as trading energy, once again I don’t think Mum and Dad consumers are that interested or have the time to work out when to buy and when to sell in order to work out how many cents or dollars they have made on a daily basis.

            I agree a day trader or share trader would be much interested in doing this but not a regular Joe Blow.

            And anyway the platform mentioned above already does this by itself and gives you all that info on an App on your smart phone. This I agree will work as people are much more receptive to receiving a txt message telling them that they are in credit for the day from their system while they are at work etc.

            Disclaimer:
            I don’t work for Reposit and am not paid to promote their product, but I would implement it in a trial given the opportunity ( over and above the three US systems that I also investigated).

          • Cooma Doug

            When you use a small contributiond from the load side, the optimum approach would be milli second response to local frequency.
            When measuring the frequency locally in the first half cycle, the result at each location will be effectively, instantanrously different and reflect the power swings on the system.
            There need be no central link to the grid controller.
            The measurements and response can all be initiated locally. The response dictated by the frequency on site and would not be disruptive to the user, just power shifting and battery response.

            The voltage management with 100% renewables will also require grid battery response.

          • DJR96

            For us as consumers, there is a simpler way to make the market work, and technically could be implemented if you have a smart meter.

            All it needs is time of use (ToU) tariff structures and rates used for both consumption and export.
            So you might have say 10c/kWh during off-peak periods, which naturally encourages you to use power then where possible including charging up your battery system. Then during peal-periods the price may be 30c/kWh. Obviously you will avoid using power during this time where possible, and you would export some of your stored power back to the grid at that price too. It doesn’t even matter if you have a solar system or not, there is still an incentive to invest in storage. And if you have solar, then you’ll be recharging your battery at no direct cost.

            So long as the energy is valued the same in either direction at any point in time.

      • Coley

        Can you ask him to make it readable enough for us simpletons who still get confused by the different voltages and plugs when we visit?
        Ta-;)

    • FeFiFoFum

      So those big synchronous generators that supply base load are extremely complicated beasts ( especially with the steam circuit) and are prone to failing or tripping off without too much notice.
      Once tripped off its takes them and age before they can come back online, sometimes hours depending on the cause of the fault that caused it to trip.

      A synch generator with its governor set to iscohronous mode will maintain frequency perfectly at nominal (50.00 Hz).

      How do you compensate for the loss of that large generator without spinning reserve ?
      Are you suggesting that all that backup domestic and commercial battery storage (20% grid capacity) will hold the grid up after the loss of a large synch generator ?

      I would think the best outcome for yourself is to have solar ( or wind) plus battery storage to cover you for 24 or 48 hrs usage, but maintain connection to the grid.
      In the event of a problem with the grid then you ‘island’ and look after yourself till the grid is back to normal.

      Back to survival instincts and look after No 1.

      • stalga

        Required backup needs to be the equivalent of the loss of the largest generator in the system. Adequate storage with an adequate dispatch system will naturally achieve this.

      • Larz Oldenburg

        Yep that’s the only way to get over it unless they want to start paying outrageous amounts to the power company there just aren’t enough batteries in the world to do what they want

      • DJR96

        No, the battery storage I envisage would be grid scale connected at major distribution stations around the network. For best flexibility they would have their own direct switching so that they can be used for system black start service too. Which means that they can be connected to the network while there is no loads connected, can provide power to energise enough of the grid to allow wind and solar farms to restart and also the synchronous generators to fire up again. As generation becomes available and ramps up, loads can be re-connected. If all the switching is centrally managed, a completely black system could be restarted within an hour, not an all day task as it is now.

        An important part of this ‘grid forming’ battery/inverter system is that all of the units performing this function must be accurately synchronised. The best way I can think of to do that is to use GPS time synchronisation. Each units system clock would be pretty good and can maintain the exact 50Hz for a time, but no two clocks are precisely accurate enough to maintain that for very long when each AC wave cycle is just 20ms. So if they all periodically referenced the GPS time (which can be as accurate as 3 nanoseconds), ensure the peak of a cycle coincided with the turn of a second, they could all remain very precisely synchronised.

        But yes, the 20% capacity figure is to ensure the storage/inverter has the instantaneous ability to hold up the grid in the event of the loss of a large generator, or conversely, a transmission line loss. It is similar to the ‘spinning reserve’ that is required to be maintained currently – except energy is never wasted in doing so.

        • FeFiFoFum

          Wow That is a staggering cost using batteries to provide 20%.
          Its nice in theory but not practically implementable.

          If the blackout happened after hours the pv doesn’t work so no grid reference voltage needed anyway.
          Same goes for the wind,, if its not blowing then no grid voltage required.

          All synch ( base load) power plants have their own black start system so not needed for that application either.

          It does have merit to have grid connected batteries, but the use is limited.
          Better if we explore other methods of ‘storage’ to compliment batteries.

          At the moment everyone seems to be focussed on renewables vs fossil fuel generation, and its limited to solar, wind, batteries vs coal, oil, natural gas.

          If we open this up and look at a bigger picture, then it will probably start to look like renewables will displace the fossil fuel generation more an more, and along the way we need to solve the storage issue.
          For example a 200MW synch generator is good for 4,800MWh, whereas a 200MW solar pv generation array is good for approx 1,200 MWh, so how do we make up the 3,600 MWh shortfall ?

          • Calamity_Jean

            “Its nice in theory but not practically implementable.”

            Not now, that’s for sure. Wait five or ten years and check again. Battery prices are going down.

            “For example a 200MW synch generator is good for 4,800MWh, whereas a 200MW solar pv generation array is good for approx 1,200 MWh, so how do we make up the 3,600 MWh shortfall?”

            Build two or three geographically separated wind farms and another PV array or two. See Budischak Et Al for more information.
            Link: https://docs.google.com/file/d/1NrBZJejkUTRYJv5YE__kBFuecdDL2pDTvKLyBjfCPr_8yR7eCTDhLGm8oEPo/edit?pli=1 (PDF)

          • FeFiFoFum

            Wow that is heavy reading.

            I got a link to Eos Energy Storage from another thread and they are offering battery storage at a price of between $160/kWh and $250/kWh depending on the size of the system ordered.

            I can’t get my head around that as it suggests that 1MWh of battery storage will cost $200,000 ??? (quoted price being $200 per kWh).
            The equivalent price from a chinese battery supplier per 1MWh came in at $1,27 million.!!
            Thats a staggering difference or I am missing something here.

          • Calamity_Jean

            “Wow that is heavy reading.”

            What is? The Budischak paper? Yeah, it’s an academic study, so it goes into a lot of detail.

            That study was published in 2013, so it’s pricing data are getting to be obsolete. Things are moving that fast in the renewables world. I’d love for them to re-do the study with more up-to-date prices. Solar, wind, and batteries have all changed price, both relative and absolute.

    • solarguy

      By George I think you’ve got old chap. Well done!

    • Robin_Harrison

      Fortunately RE+storage infrastructure costs are rapidly approaching parity with FF infrastructure costs so it’s going to get increasingly affordable and, ultimately, considerably cheaper.

      • DJR96

        Yes, generation costs are already less. And storage will follow.

      • Coley

        And hopefully more understandable-;)

        • Robin_Harrison

          I suspect the waters are being deliberately muddied by FF interests. We can expect them to get even more dirty and desperate as we come to the end of the FF age.

  • Roger Brown

    Biggest risk is the COALalition Party . They are brought and working for their masters , not us . They are more interested in buying their next

    tax dodge house / Cafe / shops and farms . I feel for that senator with 50 properties to keep them up to date and safe for his tenants . How does he find time to do all his property management ?

  • FeFiFoFum

    I know Kate, she knows her stuff especially when it comes to wind generation.

    It is an explosive report and technically factually correct and its about time that the power engineering behind grid operations gets a hearing.

    I think its shows AEMO up as being totally incompetent.
    Its actually basic stuff.

    Seems like the lunatics have got hold of the keys to the asylum and are running a muck and the idiot politicians are creating smokescreens to deflect attention from the real technical issues.
    They should hang their heads in shame.

  • Ian

    I think I can see Giles fist pumping and shouting ‘booyeah’ with this piece!

    • FeFiFoFum

      Its a great thread, so thanks Giles.
      More sensible technical discussion on this thread than all the hysteria and fluff around this important issue out there in mainstream media and especially in parliament house.

      The point is we are behind the 8 ball ( slow to adopt), the technology and control systems are already out there and available off the shelf, and eventually we will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

  • Arthurx Xtra

    Hi,
    I am reading for some time this Australian site.
    About the battery discussion.:
    Here is what they are trying in Denmark now.
    Connecting electric cars to the grid, third study

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2017/03/20170306-parker.html

    • DJR96

      Our Australian system is so far behind Denmark and other European countries it’s embarrassing. Here solar systems are still just a barely tolerated add-on to the network. And an abject failure to recognise that energy can be stored at all! Barely taken seriously and factored in to the network generation dispatching process.
      We’ve got to reform our governing regulations to fully embrace renewable generation and storage systems yet. It is underway and I live in hope that being the late starter on this reform we will get it right by taking a big leap forward such that all generation and storage systems are fully inclusive. But it is an industry that is infamous for taking tiny incremental steps…….

      • FeFiFoFum

        How do you ‘Like’ a comment on this forum ?

        Nicely put and fully agreed.

        Australia is so far behind, full stop.

        • Calamity_Jean

          “How do you ‘Like’ a comment on this forum ?”

          Just below the left edge of the comment there’s a “^” and a “v”, sometimes with a number next to the ^. Click on the ^ and it will turn blue and add one to the number.

          Hover your cursor over the ^ and you will see who else has “liked” the comment.

      • Arthurx Xtra

        Yes,
        I think too that there will be a big leap forward.
        But those cars,
        What about a million cars each with a 10kW grid connection, parked 90%of the time:
        That gives you 10 GWatt storage power.
        You can use it as a power sink or source
        Switching time less than a milli second.

        I guess that will happen in a few years.

  • Ray Miller

    The NEM started in December 1998, since the NEM started the number of transistors in our computer chips has followed Moore’s law and doubled every two years, that is 9 doublings to arrive at the handheld smart phones we use today. Then we hear after 18 years of operation the whole NEM is still dependent (to keep the lights on) on the response time of intermittent steam governors (well at least the ones not disabled)!
    Truly amazing in 2017. Looks like we need a large museum project? But then we have a working one.

  • Great explanation of a complex problem!

  • Robin_Harrison

    These findings certainly could help turn the current debate about renewables versus fossil baseload power on its head, if it ever makes it into the mainstream media owned by ‘business as usual’.

  • Radbug

    I’m fed up with this chaos. I don’t want to have to be a bloody electrical engineer to be able to turn the bloody lights on!!!

  • Chris

    Coal and gas are running the grid, solar and wind seem to be assisting coal and gas. A lot of the time SA is generating more wind power than any other source, yet a fault occurs with a gas generator/interconnector and the states power system fails. Why isnt wind working as base generation holding the state up? Coal and gas are a threat to system security yet wind cant even run the state on its own?

    • FeFiFoFum

      Because of the conflict between commercial factors and the technical network requirements.
      Wind generators want to maximise their revenue so run flat out when they can.

      Network requirements include they need for frequency control and spinning reserve.
      The wind generators can provide these services ( FCAS) but need to be paid a fee for the service so they throttle back and keep some reserve margin ( ie not run flat out).

      Its all solvable technically and electrically but the rules of the game are not flexible enough right now, and are focused on commercial returns.

  • 小杜 (xiao du)

    “And, like in the film Hidden Figures, where a group of black female maths geniuses upset the all white male experts in NASA by pointing out that they had their maths wrong, and that their projections for the first manned flight would fail, this report suggests the maths supporting Australia electricity system’s constraint limits may also be wrong.”

    Not the best example, using mostly dramatized fiction to represent reality.