rss
170

Coal-reliant NSW faces rolling blackouts as accusations fly in South Australia

Print Friendly

The coal-dependent state of New South Wales faces rolling blackouts on Friday as the extraordinary summer heatwave continues across Australia, and after South Australia’s grid faced similar problems on Wednesday.

The Australian Energy Market Operator warned on Thursday morning that the heat-wave, which will send temperatures soaring as high as 45°C in Sydney suburbs, could mean there is not enough capacity in NSW to meet demand.

It says rolling blackouts, or load shedding, could result, from around 4pm on Friday afternoon.

AEMO made a similar forecast for South Australia on Sunday, but the fact that the state suffered short burst of rolling blackouts – affecting 40,000 people for up to 45 minutes – with the country’s most efficient gas generator sitting idle near Adelaide – has sparked another war of words.

Extraordinarily, the ABC led its coverage with the title “energy minister Josh Frydenberg says he won’t politicise” the blackouts, before quoting him doing exactly that .

Frydenberg blamed the low wind output and the state’s “gamble” on renewables for the grid problems and “yet another example of Jay Weatherill’s failed experiment”.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and others joined in. Later, in question time, Frydenberg blamed the blackout on a “lack of wind”, and Treasurer Scott Morrison brandished a lump of coal.

However, South Australia energy minister Tom Koutsantonis blamed the AEMO – which is a federal body – for not ensuring there was enough generation available, and wondered why it allowed Engie’s 250MW gas unit at Pelican Point to sit idle, while consumers and business suffered forced blackouts.

Koutsantonis was particularly outraged given there was three day’s notice of the potential shortfall. Claiming not enough time to fire up the generator simply didn’t cut it. He and premier Jay Weatheril have threatened to take matters into their own hands, even talking of “nationalising” the industry.

The events – their impact on a high renewables state like South Australia and a coal reliant state such as NSW – underlines the shocking state of Australia’s energy policy.

While Frydenberg jumped into the gutter, and refused to answer questions why the AEMO did not use its powers to ensure Pelican Point was operating, the more reasonable approach would have been to underline the need for a smarter grid rather than dumb politics.

But that has been lacking for years. And as a result, technology  and market solutions have been ignored. Consider demand response – where businesses and others volunteer to reduce their demand (and get paid for it) would be a better mechanism than forced outages. And would likely result in lower grid costs.

There has been a big push for this from experts for years, but policy makers and regulators – at the behest of the fossil fuel generators that control the grid – have been slow to respond. Some rules in support of demand response rules are now in the pipeline, but probably won’t be in the market for another two years.

These mechanisms have existed in Western Australia and most other western markets for years. It’s all about having a smart grid, rather than the dumb one we have now. At RenewEconomy, we’re not sure how many times we need to make this point.

One demand response expert said it would have taken just 100 MW of consumers and businesses enacting demand response to avoid the forced blackouts.

“The spot price was near the market cap all evening, which have sent the market a signal to either increase generation, or reduce demand.

“Unfortunately these wholesale price signals rarely reach demand-side consumers and businesses, because retailers rarely pass those signals on to their customers. Some sort of demand response mechanism in the wholesale market would allow independent specialists to work with consumers to bring their demand response to market, where retailers have failed to do so under the status quo.”

The potential for rolling blackouts in NSW on Friday highlights that this is not a renewables vs fossil fuel issue, but a grid management issue. Load shedding is actually quite a frequent event – it’s only now that the political debate over wind energy, driven by the Coalition, has put it centre state.

According to SA Power Networks, AEMO ordered Wednesday night’ “rotational load shedding’’ at 7pm, due to a “lack of available generation supply” in the state, as South Australian returned home from work and turned their air-conditioners on.

“This issue is due to a lack of generation supply and we are required to operate at AEMO’s instruction,” SAPN said.

But Koutsantonis argues that the national market isn’t working. Energy analysts wondered why 250MW of capacity at Pelican Point was not switched on, and why 100MW of capacity of one of the Torrens Island units – which was running two days earlier – was also idle.

(An AGL spokesperson said the unit was “closed for maintenance”. A Pelican Point release said the unit “was not able to provide a market response under the current rules of the National Electricity Market, (NEM) unless directed by the market operator).”

It seems that this is what the state government wants to know, and threatens to take matters into its own hands.

“We (the State Government) have been taking advice from the market operator and others but after last night we have to reassess. We will do what’s necessary to make sure SA has sufficient generation,” Koutsantonis said.

“It’s my understanding that AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) was made aware more generation was available and chose not to turn that generation on. Serious questions have to be asked about why we had generation available that wasn’t used.”

As energy market analyst Paul McArdle has since pointed out, the NEM indeed seems to be running on a “very, very tight supply/demand balance.”

But McArdle has also been keen to point out that this is not a situation that is exclusive to South Australia – nor is it something that should be unexpected by the national market operator during the late stages of an Australian summer.

“It’s important to note,” he says, that AEMO’s NSW load-shedding forecast is exactly that – a forecast. “It’s not actually occurring currently. As AEMO has noted, the market is expected to respond by making more capacity available.”

Back in South Australia, further potential power cuts have been flagged by AEMO for Thursday, which has warned of possible load shedding from 4pm, as Adelaide heads for a top of 42°C and other parts of the state to upwards of 45°C.

AEMO, meanwhile, is said to be delivering an “urgent report” on the latest SA blackouts but, according to Minister Frydenberg, has disputed some claims that it was to blame.

The market operator released a statement on Thursday morning, offering some insight to its course of action on Wednesday night, noting that it had issued “a number of market notices” in the lead up, “requesting a market response to be provided due to increased demand as a result of the high temperatures” in the state.

AEMO said it “did not receive sufficient bids into the market” to avoid the load-shedding.

“AEMO understands the frustration from South Australian energy consumers as electricity is an essential service,” the statement reads. “It is important to note that AEMO instructed load shedding to ease the pressure on the power system, protecting it from potentially impacting more residents, and for a longer period.

“AEMO is continuing to carefully manage the power system during this period of high temperatures and high demand across Australia’s eastern states. AEMO has today published market notices forecasting a tightening supply/demand balance across South Australia and New South Wales over the coming days, and is working with the market to mitigate the need for further load shedding events.”

Note: This story has been updated from its original publication. Please see also: Greedy energy industry, too clever by half, kicks an own goal  

Share this:

  • Steve159

    Wow, the extent and depth of the LNP lies beggars belief — extraordinary.

    I wonder what percentage of those who experienced that blackout are thinking “right, to hell with the expense, I’m getting batteries with my solar!”?

    • Chris Fraser

      Yes, which obviously creates unexpected blow-back for the right wing centralised-generation spruikers.

      In situations such as this, with the need for the energy load following the sun quite closely, I doubt we could do better than distributed solar. The fools on the other side clearly have little grasp of the matter.

      • solarguy

        Oh mate they have a grasp all right, a grasp on our wallets. They understand to well how good solar and wind are and so do FF industry donator’s to the LNP. Oh and the brown paper bags under the table.

      • Dispassionate

        energy load following the sun? the blackouts are expected from 4pm on??

        • Chris Fraser

          And … the owners of the north and west PV won’t be contributing to the problem …

    • Brooke

      Or get a $1000 Honda generator that you run at each blackout for a couple of hours?

      • Trent Deverell

        But generators cost money, the rubbish fuel goes stale and it might NOT start when you really need them too! [played out in SA yesterday]….

        On the other hand Solar + Battery will save you money every day, and having the battery (as I have) has proven most useful to keep the power on and avoid the annoyance of a noisy “Tony Rabbitt” banging away.

        • Greg Hudson

          Can you share before and after power bills please ?
          Also size of solar and battery. Thanks

          • Trent Deverell

            Keep in mind I have two PV systems, ,

            #1 = 5kw SMA & 6kwp of LG’s PV (7.4c Ergon feed-in)
            #2 = 1.5kw Victron ES & 1.6kwp of LG PV’s (Computer Room self-consumption 400-1000W loading 24/7)

            The Victron currently has a 2 x 260Ah SLA, that get cycled down to only 72-78% SOC (~1.5kwh drawn) retaining a healthy UPS reserve of a further 90-120 minutes @800W down to ~30% SOC cut-out (black-out capability).

            The arrangement was built for just the UPS capability, but having added more panels it has adapted to making daily power, and once system efficiency and battery loses are subtracted is delivering an average of 5.75kwh/day (AC) [7.7kwh/day max] on top of the UPS capability. ($1.38/day saving)

            Eventually when the lead things quit they’ll be changed to something with a bigger usable recovery (lithium or flow), and system will then invert far longer into the evening, cutting grid usage further. Note I have lot of SMA grid feed-in being given away under the current config that would then be used instead, this whilst the Victron is dropping ALL of its solar input into the bigger battery from early morning thru mid afternoon.

            Now 18 months down the track, if I had the chance to repeat the build, I’d use the newer Victron ES Multi-Grid 3kw, be able to add another 6 x PV’s and a Redflow Z-cell, and as for main system swap the SMA for a Fronius 5kw simply so they can talk to each other.

            But what I have, is what I have based on a total of 28 x 275w LG PV’s…..

            Based on first ~18 months (8/2/15)…

            SMA = 14.416MWh or 26.02kwh/day avg (max 41kwh)
            Victron = 3.505MWh or 6.54kwh/day avg (max 10kwh)

            Absolute Usage = avg. 38.20kwh/day (max 52kwh/day)
            Nett Metered Usage = avg 21.16kwh/day (max 33kwh/day)
            Nett Export = avg 15.52kwh/day (max 29kwh/day)
            =
            Ergon Cost = avg $5.21/day
            Self-Consumption & Feed Benefit = avg $5.35/day

            [In effect I have halved my Ergon bill, with potential for another ~15 units saving with more battery storage]

            ps. and yes I do have a workshop sized generator, but it has a grand total of 12 hours on the clock having been used once in anger, but hey I got an hour or two of Victron battery or get an attack of munchies to prompt a walk down stairs (when the rain settles down) and press the go button and light the house fully up. .

      • Colin Nicholson

        That would be about 1KW max (honda is dear but you chose it ) If it can supply peak household demand, that is If peak household demand could be held to 1KW – no blackout

        • Mike Shackleton

          1kW is plenty for a household running LED lights, efficient appliances and a well insulated house. You wouldn’t be able to crank the AC but you certainly could run a couple of air circulators. Consider that it is only for a couple of hours too. The other option if AC is necessary is to set it on a timer to run from 2-4PM to cool down the house while peak solar generation is available. It amazing, we are talking about shortfalls of 100 – 200 MW in the system. That’s far less than a coal fired unit is capable of. Even a couple of grid scale batteries that can deliver 100 MW for 3 hours would be worth investing in.

    • Trent Deverell

      On my research if Solar was a human soldier sent to war it should be nominated
      for a Medal of Honour, and most certainly not pillaged by the Commander an ‘coal’ Chief!!!.

      Okay the wind wasn’t blowing but the sun was
      roaring, and South Australia’s solar systems keep the lights on for a lot of hours more than would have, thus covering
      up for gas units not being available..

      … this making the “blackout” shorter and later in the day than would have been, and probably saving a few pensioners from heat stroke or a avoiding bunch of car accidents by keeping the traffic lights on….

      Further if Trumpbull$hit was to grow up, pick up
      the phone and ring Redflow [in Adelaide] and maybe offer them the Billion dollars he is strongly considering gifting to Adani for a coal mine….. ….I am sure the soon to be disbanded Holden factory and most of their industry employees would be keen to line up and be a big part in solving the national “peak” energy issue by next summer…… and being the start of a smart industry with a huge global demand for battery storage products…

      … and these clown idiots in Canberra have the hide to talk themselves up about jobs and growth..

      A simple fix!!!…

  • hugh grant

    Thanks Giles. You are one of the very few Australian journalists that consistently provides fact based reports on the operation of our national electricity market. Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to parrot the Coalition’s fact free and ideologically driven rants. its no wonder the Australian community is so poorly informed. Keep up the great work Giles.

    • howardpatr

      Here, here.

      Turnbull and the flea ridden RWRNJs who control him, like Fydenberg and Joyce, must love you Giles?

      • Calamity_Jean

        Giles must sometimes feel like quoting FDR: “…they hate me, and I welcome their hatred.”

  • Jason Van Der Velden

    Blackouts equals batteries, ironically hastening the decline of the coal lobby the lnp so desperatly tries to save

    • Steve159

      Exactly! It’s ironic, as you point out, and eventually “poetic justice” that the blackouts in conjunction with LNP’s vilification of renewables will greatly expand their adoption at the expense of the coal lobby.

      • Brooke

        There are only a limited number of stupid people who would outlay thousands for batteries. Mostly on this forum I suspect

        • Tom

          I’m one of them.

          I’m building a beach house in a village at the “end of the grid”. They are subject to frequent blackouts. No town water either.

          They are also bushfire-prone and my house is bordering the forest. If there is a bushfire, the first thing to go down is going to be the power. Telecommunications next probably.

          So what’s going to run my sprinklers and hose? An electric pump supplied by on-grid battery storage, of course.

          • Rod

            Yes, one thing I learned during the 4 hours I was out in SA last year was mobile towers only have enough back up power for about 2 hours.
            Not ideal in a widespread emergency situation.

        • trackdaze

          Limited to the 1,500, 000 who already have solar?

          Probably not seeing 5% of new solar added batteries last year with that rate already looks to triple.

          Why do you think the fossilites are so panicky?

        • Mike Shackleton

          Given Tesla dropped the effective price of their home storage unit by 50% in 12 months I’m interested to see how much further they can bring it down. If a Tesla Powerwall came down to $5k installed (another 50% drop) you’d see a massive uptake. Especially if feed in tariffs were linked to the wholesale price. Consider the median house price of $580k in Adelaide. That represents capital cost of less than 1% of the value of the house. Cheap insurance.

          • Chris Marshalk

            I’m eyeing solar power in the next 12 months + batteries. Gonna wait for batteries to become more mainstream.

          • neroden

            There will be another 50% drop, but not until Tesla’s production increases by a lot. As long as Tesla can sell out production at these prices, they have no incentive to cut the price….

        • Greg Hudson

          Fortunately there are even less stupid people making stupid comments like yours.

          • Chris Marshalk

            That’s a very helpful comment you nasty A-hole.

          • Greg Hudson

            Chris, the comment was not directed at you, but at Brooke’s stupid comment ‘There are only a limited number of stupid people who would outlay thousands for batteries. Mostly on this forum I suspect’

    • Michael Murray

      Except you need to set it up properly. A lot of people complained after the last big SA blackout when they discovered their expensive whizz bang battery / solar setup didn’t work without the grid turned on.

      • Mike Shackleton

        The Telsa Powerwall 2 works when the grid is out

        • Michael Murray

          Interesting. Thanks. I didn’t know that.

        • Greg Hudson

          Only if you ask for the specific model that supports it (I think is the AC version) ? Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

          • Trent Deverell

            The Powerwall2 or pretty much any other Solar Inverter (inc. SMA TL’s ) can be programmed to run without a grid connection as long as an anti-islanding relay is fitted to the switchboard or depending on the product anti-islanding function built into the inverter.

      • Greg Hudson

        Their own fault for not asking for ‘blackout backup’.

        • Michael Murray

          True. But not an unreasonable expectation for a naive user that it’s a (not particularly cheap) battery so it’s going to work when the power goes off. That’s what batteries do right ?

          • Greg Hudson

            Very true. Most people would expect a battery to be available to use 24/7. This illustrates a deficiency somewhere along the line, from the designers, builders, retailers or installers.

        • Trent Deverell

          +1…. suspect many took the cheapest quote..

  • MG

    1 – “Load shedding is actually quite a frequent event” – this is true in the case of localised network outages, trees taking down distribution lines, etc. What happened yesterday in SA (AEMO running out of power stations to turn on) is NOT common or frequent, in fact I don’t believe it has EVER happened in the 20 year history of the NEM.

    2 – “The demand response rules are in the pipeline” Giles what rules are you referring to? In late 2016 the AEMC finally canned the proposed “demand response mechanism” rule change, on the basis that there’s plenty of demand response and procuring DR is best left to retailers to organise (wrong, in my view). What new rules are in the pipeline?

    • They didn’t run out of power plants. Pelican Point sitting there with 250MW of unused capacity.
      Demand response: http://reneweconomy.com.au/turnbulls-right-need-cheap-clean-reliable-power-heres-42744/ not everything that could be done but a start

    • Steve159

      “AEMO running out of power stations to turn on”

      Reports on TV this morning, Jay Weatherall stated that there was a spare 250MW gas-fired generator sitting idle, and was NOT turned on, even though the AEMO was given 3 days notice of impending demand!

      • And part of this is that it is the generator’s decision not to turn on. Engie, like AGL, are hanging out for “capacity” payments so they get money for sitting idle and switching on when needed in events like this. Like so much about this market, the fossil fuel generators get to control everything. That why they fighting 5 minute rule that would encourage more battery storage and other rules that would result in less revenue for them.

        • Steve159

          This all reminds me of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” doco, in which Enron employees were recorded joking about how they deliberately shut down power stations in California to cause blackouts, to receive subsequent increase in rates, and profits. And shoving it up the __ of grannies.

        • Michael Murray

          Nick Harmsen on twitter says Engie claims they weren’t allowed to bid to provide extra power before the load shedding started.

          https://twitter.com/nickharmsen?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

        • Brooke

          Fossil Fuel Generators can supply the market as needed. Solar and Windmills you just have to get on bended knee and pray.
          Tom K and Jay W just looked like dummies. Even #theirABC were slagging them.

          • Michael Murray

            So how come the gas plants we have in SA didn’t supply the need last night ?

          • Steve159

            “… looked like dummies”

            Brooke, your outbursts telegraph a classic case of “projecting”.

            I’m sure you’re smarter than that, or at least capable of some improvement.

          • Colin Nicholson

            bit like growing wheat really … should stop that

          • RobSa

            You are a windmill.

    • Load shedding also happened last December in South Australia – BHP when the Vic network went down. And last year tasmania had lots of voluntary load shedding by industry when they ran out of water and the cable to the mainland broke.

      • MG

        You’re right, but the BHP example was following a contingency (loss of Heywood interconnector, not lack of dispatchable generation in SA. Media reports after that said BHP has a legacy connection agreement allowing this. I wonder why AEMO didn’t call BHP first yesterday, and require them to be first off, instead of asking Electranet to shed residential neighborhoods? Perhaps BHP had already shed load to avoid paying $14k/MWh in the energy market, and so had no more to shed?

        Agree it’s too soon to point fingers re: Pelican Point, but If Engie truly had Pelican Point available they could have bid it in. They would have known they’d earn $14k/MWh by running it, but they still chose to sit out? Next question for AEMO: why didn’t they use their powers of “direction” to direct Pelican Point to run?

        • all good questions. And why don’t we have a proper demand response market?

      • Craig Allen

        Why is Labour taking this lying down? The SA Minister for Energy should be standing in front of an idle gas fired power station during the black-out holding a press conference explaining what’s going on. And the federal Labour minister should be doing something similar during a NSW blackout.

        • MaxG

          they are not much better then the others… see UK, AU, US, and soon FR (elections this year)… people are disillusioned, which is reflected what they vote for; the way they do it will lead to a faster collapse of the system.

      • Tom

        “When they ran out of water and the cable to the mainland broke”.

        Correction: “When we ran ourselves out of water and then the cable to the mainland broke.”

        Tassie exported so much more power than what fell as rain during the carbon tax period, and then kept on doing it even though the carbon tax was repealed, that last year’s power crisis was a completely man-made disaster.

        Agree about the load shedding though. An inside birdie from one load-shedding company told me that his company was quite happy – the compensation they were getting for not producing was, at the time, better than what they would have made from actually producing.

    • Rod

      Has the NEM been around that long?
      Load shedding in SA used to be a regular thing in Summer peaks. Probably non existent since the interconnector.
      I dread to think what would happen if one of the TIPS units were to have an issue on a day like yesterday or today.

      • Brooke

        I dare anyone to shut down one of the La Trobe Valley Brown Coal generators…..
        Whoops. One goes down next month.

        • solarguy

          Because it’s too expensive to run dick head, so the owner is going to invest in SOLAR. You could always burn that fossilized brain of yours with a bit more meth, then you can go down with Hazelwood where you belong sucker.

        • Barri Mundee

          Fuck off troll.

  • Steve159

    I urge everyone who provides comment on reneweconomy.com.au to send an email to Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

    Ask why he and Labor are not challenging the LNP’s blatant untruths regarding renewable energy being more costly, driving up electricity prices, and unreliable re SA.

    His email is [email protected]

    • hugh grant

      Good suggestion Steve – Mark Butler has been missing in action in this debate. I note that Labour politicians are in the media today seriously questioning whether the National Electricity Market (NEM) is dysfunctional. Hopefully this will result in an adult conversation on the real issues that are driving excessive electricity prices.

      • hugh grant

        FYI – Mark Butler has just challenged Josh Frydenberg on AEMO’s role in yesterday’s events (first time he’s raised a question of that nature in Question Time). As expected, Josh Frydenberg ignored the question and yet again blamed the intermittency of renewables.

        • Steve159

          Yes saw that — but they should continue to hammer that line of attack. I see though that Butler was not allowed to table Engie’s statement!

          • hugh grant

            Mark Butler is currently being interviewed with Davis Spears on Sky News. He has outlined Engie’s statement and is standing firm on blaming AEMO for not directing Engie to turn on Pelican Point 2

          • Steve159

            That’s good to hear, at last.
            I don’t have skynews — don’t have Foxtel, but thanks for the heads up. I notice the skynews website not (yet) posting the interview.

    • Michael James

      Mark Butler was on 7.30 doing exactly that. The ABC had asked both Frydenberg and AEMO to appear and both declined.

      Are you going to persist in blaming Labor for everything for which this government should be held to account?

  • Ray Miller

    It is a fair assumption the extra high peak demand and consequently $13k + MWh was mainly due to the air conditioner use at 40C temperatures. So energy entering into our buildings needed to be pumped out when the pumps were working most inefficiently.

    I just looked at an efficient unit, 7 stars with a rated EER of 5.95 and a range of 1.43-9.29, so at the high end temperature could be expecting to only have an EER of 1.43, or 1.43 times the input energy is pumped, if we had the grid to run it. I presume others are worse.

    Maybe its about time we addressed the ‘real problem’ and accept the built environment is part of the energy infrastructure and design/retrofit our buildings to be more resilient to extremes of temperature and not be hazardous. For every $1 spent on our buildings may save $10’s on the energy system. Just a thought.

    • Michael Murray

      Maybe we could start putting eaves on new SA houses 🙁

      • Chris Fraser

        Passive design … a very good thought …

    • Rod

      Or maybe we could retrofit every Heat Pump AC with one of these
      http://www.coolnsave.com/
      Fitted something similar to mine for $5 for the misters.
      I confirmed with my whole house energy meter 30% reduction in energy use especially at start up

  • Malcolm M

    Why was Torrens Island A1 shut down too ? Until Monday it was producing 100 MW, but during the heatwave nothing. Port Lincoln’s 50 MW of capacity was also unused. There were supposedly grid connection problems at Port Lincoln, but with warning these problems can usually be resolved. So in addition to Pelican Point’s idle 250 MW, there were 400 MW of unused capacity in SA during the heatwave.

    Data are on the Aneroid Energy website.

    • Rod

      Here’s me thinking TIPS A was mothballed.
      I’ve not seen that site before. Thanks.
      Was Dry Creek started?
      That used to be the last gasp.

    • AGL says that unit was “closed for maintenance”. Been added to story.

      • DevMac

        Hi Giles, in regards to the constant drone of “unreliabile” in regards to renewables, are we able to create a tally of when fossil fuel generation has been unreliable (and possibly when AEMO’s policies / decisions have been unreliable).
        We’ve got your two examples above, plus I recall reading that there were failed black starts at one or two fossil fuel generators that, had they been successful could have averted the situation.
        It’s a growing list.

  • Stewart Rogers

    Giles you’re an utter joke and your ‘journalism’ is only mildly better than Buzzfeed. You’ll try and hide all wrongdoing by the the renewable industry when other industry experts have given more balanced views.

    • Stewart Rogers

      FYI I read your site usually for the other articles and skip the ones written by yourself.

      • Steve159

        You’ve commented on, having presumably at least skimmed an article that you say you haven’t read.
        Ipso facto your statement is contradictory.
        Try and do better.

      • trackdaze

        Gas blows

      • DevMac

        Thanks for sharing your reading habits. Please start your own website that I can avoid.

        This kind of comment paints all of your others as coming from a motivation akin to a childish disagreement tantrum. It’s nice to know this about you so I can filter out your drivel from now on.

        Have a nice life.

    • Thank you for your penetrating insight Stewart, My, that is a big fish.

    • Steve159

      Would you be so kind and a tad courteous to share with us, precisely what “wrongdoings” are you referring to.
      Now there’s a good lad.

      • Stewart Rogers

        Not limited to only this article but does Giles wish to mention that South Australia only had 80MW of wind supply during the load shedding?

        It would help to understand why Pelican Point and North Power are unviable. Could it be from the overly generous LGC certificates that wind gets?

        This image was from yesterday.
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5786c0594ae4ca071440dde75301e4bf73497bd21cd7e270a1ac28b5bda48b98.jpg

        • Steve159

          Nope, Pelican Point owners confirm they were not allowed to provide power, due to the AEMO, which is 60% gov, 40% other, thus, under the control of the fed minister.

          I’m not into conspiracy theories, but this smells like the fed minister gave a “suggestion” to AEMO not to allow Pelican Point to come on line.

          Enron tactic, cause blackouts, lay blame elsewhere, profit by it (score political points).

          • Stewart Rogers

            AEMO can’t tell a half mothballed station to turn their units on. It doesn’t work that way. Generation has to be available and scheduled as ready to produce power.

            I think it’s a stupid conspiracy. In the last 40 page report that AEMO wrote on the September black outs there was hardly a mention of wind.

          • Yes it can tell the unit to switch on, under these arrangements. https://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Emergency-Management.
            but despite warning of shortfall three days earlier it decided not to ask until too late, or so it appears.

          • Stewart Rogers

            At least a few days before, not hours before. Bit of a difference. There are no staff manning the mothballed stations ready to generate power. They should have just left North Power Station on over summer.

          • well, it was AEMO who put out the statement on sunday, three days beforehand, that there would be a shortfall. why leave northern on when there is a perfectly good gas generator available with about one third the emissions.

          • Stewart Rogers

            SA has had fairly high wholesale rates this whole summer. I doubt gas would be bidding as highly if North Power was on.

            In any case it can be either or depending on the price but 80MW production of close to 1.5GW of wind capacity is an utter failure.

          • If Northern were still operating then Torrens, as previously advertised, would have been closed down, so the remaining gas generators would have been able to charge what they wanted. It is the highest cost generator that sets the price, not the lowest. Having 500MW of northern would have made bugger all difference to wholesale prices when demand goes to 3,000MW. the wind was forecast three days earlier, which is why the rolling stoppages went out. AEMO simply failed to manage a situation they knew was happening. It is their job to manage variations of supply and demand.

          • Stewart Rogers

            The difference needed was 100MW yesterday. Regardless of the source (which I stated it’s fine to have one or the other depending on price, obviously last supplier sets NEM price) they needed fossil fuels. You can talk about the specifics of gas vs coal. That’s fine. Your failure to recognise the shortfall of wind is simply a bias on your behalf. Renewables will always be unreliable when concentrated until we have viable storage mechanisms at an acceptable price.

          • Stewart Rogers

            BTW Giles. This is how you write a less biased article on the matter… http://www.wattclarity.com.au/2017/02/initial-analysis-sa-load-shedding-wed-8-feb-2017/

          • Oh, and by the way, Queensland’s wholesale prices have been twice those in South Australia, and that is with 7,000MW of coal fired capacity, more than two thirds its supply.So there goes that argument. It is the bidding practises of the fossil fuel generators that sets the price. That is why sun metals is building its own solar plant – it’s less than half the price!. South Australia has been the cheapest in the NEM, apart from Victoria.

          • Stewart Rogers

            Some of QLD’s generation has been down and they are one of the only states that have had large demand increases. More capacity is required. South Australia has not been the cheapest in the NEM. Victoria and Tasmania (and WA in the WEM) have.

            Yes, gas is expensive. The sky is often blue. Gas peakers operate less than 5% per year, they need to make a profit too. Your argument is farcical.

            I’m fine with people investing in renewables. I bled the feed in tariff dry by installing the largest system and making sure it all gets exported. I also agree the FITs were a waste of billions of dollars. The issue is subsidies. You’re strawmanning me.

          • Some of Qld’s coal generation has been down!!! Oh my god, you mean, coal generators are not reliable. Save us. Save us.
            FYI. there’s 7,000MW of coal blowing now and its well over $300/MWh. Mate, you got the straw-man on auto-pilot.

          • Stewart Rogers

            There is no source that is 100% reliable but wind is lucky to have a 70% capacity factor.

          • Steve159

            Wrong.

            Research by Stanford University a few years back found that if sufficient wind-farms are connected to the grid (in the USA, same would apply here), the output is flat, consistent, 24/7 – aka, base load.

          • Stewart Rogers

            LOL. Maybe if the wind farms are split up on different sides of Australia with interconnectors but how much more inefficient do you wish to make wind power?

            Check the production stats in Australia. Winds differ in the world, turbines in Antarctica are no doubt more effective than SA.

          • Steve159

            Ah, I see you’re one of the many spin doctors employed by the LNP.

            The amount of wind power on hand is completely irrelevant if there is sufficient alternative power to meet demand.

            The fact that you’ve raised this red herring, exactly as Barnaby Joyce has done repeatedly in parliament, gives you away.

          • Stewart Rogers

            @steve159:disqus I don’t support the LNP, Labor, or the Greens. I support the Liberal Democrats. Nice assumption.

            “Sufficient alternative power” – Until the alternatives are mothballed due to the failed government intervention that led to the RET getting out of control.

          • Steve159

            Sorry, don’t believe you (you earlier posted that you don’t read Giles’ articles yet you commented on this one — rendering your credibility and truthfulness as defunct, non-existent).

            “the RET getting out of control.” The Warburton review, commissioned by Tony Abbott, found that keeping the RET will keep electricity prices lower.

            The RET is not out of control, if anything it should be greatly increased.

            Furthermore, your opposition to the RET, a leaf out of the LNP playbook, also gives you away.

          • Stewart Rogers

            I don’t usually but I knew he’d be serving up a load of biased statements for this event. Giles does have some other writers I like on his blog.

            I couldn’t care less if you believe me or not. Won’t change my life.

          • Farmer Dave

            Stewart, wind generation is very predictable, and my understanding is that Australia’s CSIRO is one of the world leaders in the development of systems for predicting wind power production many hours ahead. If the wind is not blowing, that is a predictable event which the design of the system and the operation of the system needs to be accountable for, not the wind generators. People who read RenewEconomy or who listen to the Energy Transition Show (which I recommend) know that there are system design approaches used elsewhere in the world, such as demand response, which assist with managing the predictable variability of solar and wind. As Giles has frequently reported, such approaches are being resisted by the fossil fuel energy incumbents in Australia.

            Put simply, the situation is this: we must transition away from fossil fuels, and do so as quickly as possible. The alternative is a climate gone completely awry and ultimately many metres of sea level rise. However, the problem with the Australian electricity industry is that its transition away from fossil fuels is being held back and mismanaged (probably deliberately) by the fossil fuel incumbents, who have captured the market regulators and the Liberal and National parties.

          • Steve159

            Wrong.

            Engie’s statement (owner of Pelican Point)

            “The second unit (240MW) at Pelican Point is not able to provide a market response under the current rules of the National Electricity Market (NEM), unless directed by the market operator”

            Unless directed by the market operator = AEMO.

            They were not directed. They could have been. Definitely smells like they (AEMO) were directed to preference blackouts rather than pull in more supply.

            Watching question time in federal parliament, there is definitely, and unequivocally a political agenda behind all this.

    • RobSa

      I wouldn’t be interested in anything negative about renewable energy.

  • trackdaze

    Simple man, 3 simple idea.

    Everybody turn their pool pump off from 3pm till 8pm on the three hottest days of the year.

    And maybe turn your aircon on early whilst solar is kicking it.

    Use the gas bbq.

    Surely That will save the network from melting down

    • Rod

      Problem is we are a nation of simpletons and much easier to blame the Goverment (sic)
      P.S. Got my AC on now just in case…..

    • Brooke

      Yes. Rationing is the solution…..

      • trackdaze

        Thats exactly what load shedding is.

  • Chris Fraser

    The whole nasty business with Engie’s Pelican Point choosing not to provide its 250 MW during a heatwave is, sadly, politicised just by Frydenberg’s failure to include it in his ranting. I hope that Koutsantonis will exert his right to withhold peaking plant for his own deployment, whenever profiteering gas generators withhold on their public obligations. The market is a failure as Koutsantonis has already reflected.

    • GregX

      Agreed. BTW, according to the Engie Pelican Point website, it can provide 479 MW or roughly 25% of SA power needs.

  • Cooma Doug

    In 1973 after a heat wave load shedding
    In NSW where many thousands of users werd affected, a 12 year old niece asked me ” why dont t h ey trip off the custoners whi dont care?” She said they could send requests via the radio and pay them a little bit for it.

    Good question to ask today. After 44 years of ramming energy out there at all cost.

    • Tel me more. I just thought of a lead to a story. if a 12yo gets it, why not the energy industry?

      • Cooma Doug

        We had a similar conumdrum just in the late 80s, before the market started. Big organisations were struggling to accept the PC boom that was about to happen. Many spent fortunes on main frame monsters. The pc industry moved in and chewed them up in a few years.

        I recon there are already fossil fuel gens that are a huge loss awaiting the investors.

        This government is s joke.

      • Cooma Doug

        I find people high up in the industry who dont get it. But there ard many who do. I have a lot of faith in AEMO at the moment. I believe there are few positions in the organisation that dont get it.
        The transition is visible to them now and they would not be impressed with the recent politics.

        I really think the move to the market was a really positive move at the time in a difficult political moment.
        The transition that is inevitable will be a similar success. It is in many ways a daunting project, but they will do it with science, not politics.

        • Greg Hudson

          If the AEMO is so bloody good, why don’t the cut the maximum price possible from $14k to $1400 – THAT would upset a few FF apple carts !

    • Jonathan Prendergast

      These guys do it in the US – https://www.ohmconnect.com/

    • Dan

      Some large industrial type customers are already signed up for this type of thing. On average around 1000 customers per remote controlled distribution device. Will all 1000 be happy to be turned off? I doubt it. Installing more infrastructure to allow disconnected individuals is very expensive. This would be added to customers bills. Would people be happy to pay? I doubt it. Government should subsidize coal in tandem with investing in getting in renewable up to a tipping point. This is necessary to ensure energy security as we transition from fossil fuels to renewable. People may disagree, but that is my opinion.

      • Cooma Doug

        If market rules encourage it, it will be all over the load side of the meter. It isnt expensive to swith loads intelligently when the market appropriately rewards. Smart meters were to be the start of it but
        we have to allign the market, with the science.

        • Dan

          I disagree. A standard market reaction here to reduce demand can only be done as you mention with voluntary shedding via smart meter. Currently not installed en masse across the NEM. Or variable pricing via smart meter currently not enforceable as you mention via market rules. which also tends to mean the most disadvantaged people are left at greatest risk. You need power when you need it. My opinion is that battery storage & EV will be the medium term answer. This creates it’s own problems at distribution level due to voltage control. Huge amounts of capital will be required to support the transition. But until then we need energy security via thermal or hydro power stations. One thing is for sure, we are in a real pickle during the transition.

      • Greg Hudson

        ‘Government should subsidize coal’ You must be kidding. Give even more money to the industry that’s killing everyone slowly…

    • Trent Deverell

      Pity someone didn’t have a key to the basement of Capital Hill at 3pm Friday….

      There would have been no loss as it was yet another worthless episode of Question Time that Advocating Black Coal didn’t need to broadcast.

      • Cooma Doug

        The impact of the internet on the communication industry from 1993 onwards was….yuge.
        I communicated directly today with people all over the planet. In 1990, the extent of what I did would have cost me a weeks salary. Today it cost nothing.
        The electric car, to the power companies and the poles and wire mobs will do the same thing as the net did to the communication industry.

  • howardpatr

    I read two ABC Online articles on the matter this afternoon – the second by Nick Harmsen.

    Unbelievable really but the two words Pelican Point did not appear in either article.

    Perhaps Guthrie is doing the bidding of the LNP and its top adviser, the IPA.

    • I saw that harmsen article and fell off my chair, Thankfully, i am now surrounded by cushions in case i come across an ABC article on energy. I hear chris uhlmann was in fine form too. depressing.

      • lin

        The ABC is our own fake news site when it comes to energy. I blame years of LNP government stacking the board and management. And now we have Ex Murdoch people in top management and senior journalist positions. It’s like publicly funded fox.

      • Just watched ABC news story on blackout. absolutely no mention of pelican point or the fact that gas plants sat idle (pelican point) or broken (torrens, Port Lincoln). all about wind. Quite unbelievable.

        • George Darroch

          Unbelievable.

        • Trent Deverell

          +1

          Pelican point was bad enough but have since heard issues with two other fossil fuel plants…

          Is diabolical to think that unless you were somewhere not of this planet, for the last week, that you didn’t know the heatwave was coming.

          To the BoM’s credit they were pretty much accurate in the forecasting both in January and the storms last year..

          Be interesting to know who much they pay the AEMO CEO and Board…. Probably millions, like the privatised GenCo’s do…!!!

          Oh, hang on when the ALP and LNP governments swap the GenCo and Energy Regulators swap places and the merry go round continues!!!

          Now that is one amusement ride that needs the plugged pulled – in the interest of fairness to most energy customers.

      • Tom

        Chris Uhlmann is a numbskull who is shouting loudly in a desperate attempt to stay in a job.

        Somewhat like our nation’s leader.

        • Trent Deverell

          What is the saying… “hang around turkey’s for too long you start acting like one”

          As for Uhlmann he merely having to re-paying his dues for all those “exclusives”, and “back of the truck” grabs he has scored over the years.

          The bloke hosting 730 on Friday night wasn’t much better..

          Is said but true that ABC has quickly starting to look like the Australian Brietbart Corporation!!!

    • Michael Murray

      You mean that gas plant they just turned back on 🙂

  • solarguy

    If we have rolling blackouts in NSW, then it will be political will and the greed of the FF incumbents not the weather to blame, in order to prove a point against RE! We have just had a string of 40+ days in a row and nothing happened then. No it will be staged!

    • Brooke

      There won’t be blackouts in NSW. They will read their emails and crank up generation to provide suitable supply……
      something SA can’t do.
      Do you guys get it yet.
      Solar and Windmills are intermittent, unpredictable and expensive.
      Tom K and Jay W should have kept their coal generation.
      Something every man and his dog told them to do.

      • solarguy

        Go back the gutter dross!

        • Cooma Doug

          I think that is Barnaby

          • Steve159

            Good call – Barnaby thinking “what alias can I use …. uhm, let’s see what would be really nice in the country amidst all this global warming …more rain, more rivers, streams, brooks. Ah, yes, Brooke it is. They’ll be nicer to girls”.

      • Michael Murray

        Doesn’t that depends on who owns the NSW generators ? There are gas generators in SA but not owned by the state.

      • Steve159

        awh, gee what a shame that unlike yesterday, Pelican Point is ready to provide the power that, if turned on yesterday, would have negated any need of blackout.

        Besides, you need to be a lert (we need more lerts) that new coal is more expensive than either solar or wind.

        The smart money (e.g AGL) is on installing grid-scale batteries.

        But by all means, keep dreaming for a coal resurgence 🙂

        • Greg Hudson

          Ignore Brooke. He is probably a FF lobbyist.

      • Colin Nicholson

        The weather (solar and wind) is unpredictable?

  • Ray Miller

    http://www.aemo.com.au/Media-Centre/Media-Statement—increased-electricity-demand-in-SA-and-NSW
    Maybe this is all sponsored by LG chem and Tesla who will be the winners or we are seeing the dying stages of the last desperate resistance by the current players before they go out of business.
    Go JayW.

  • Colin Edwards

    How about a class action against the AEMO for economic losses incurred by its incompetence?

    • Stewart Rogers

      So they can recoup the losses from everyone’s energy bills? Smart thinking.

      Just as dumb as suing the US government for lack of climate action.

      • Just_Chris

        your right, they should prosecute the CEO’s of generators who have multiple assets in the market who failed to allow some of those assets to be used in order to generate greater profit across their wider portfolio. If that can be shown to be the case then I personally think that someone should go to jail.

        If there isn’t a law that can be used then one should be written. These people are not selling baked beans they are selling power and the system is going wrong too often for it to be a coincidence. AEMO gave them 3 days to make sure their assets were ready or to tell people there was going to be a problem. 3 days is long enough to make sure that people are properly prepared for a rolling black out. The generators should have said there was going to be a problem 3 days in advance and the AEMO should have said (as they have done today) 24hrs in advance that there will be a problem.

        This is not that hard.

  • Brooke

    CRIKEY. GETUP to speed.

    What did SA expect. I. Summer there are plenty of Highs which means hi temp no wind and the sun goes down each afternoon.
    Thank God for La Trove valley and Brown Coal. Saves everyone’s Bacon.
    Koutsantonis and Wetherell just need to build a black coal generator. Problem solved.
    ffs…… Dumb as dogshit.

    • Michael Murray

      We’ve got generating capacity with gas plants.

    • DevMac

      Whilst the current SA Government is still saying the right things regarding renewables I’m going to keep voting for them. I’d prefer if they pushed the issue harder, since their argument has the backing of economics and science, anyone arguing against it will end up sounding like a moron.

  • Gary Rowbottom

    Very disappointed with what’s happening here. Tried to ring Pelican Point themselves – answering m/c so left message. Then rang AEMO, got a ticket no. now so will see where that goes. If there’s heavy need, and we have generating capacity, it should be used.
    Been pushing for 5 years for CST with storage to be built (started when we lost Playford Power Stations 200 odd MW). Now the first CST build solidly proposed is 110MW with 8 hours storage. That sure would have been handy yesterday, today etc. The existing large gas generation (Torrens A & B and Pelican Point needs to be kept viable for a while yet, despatchable renewables like CST with storage when enough capacity is there of those type of things, will allow these to fade out in an orderly manner – but get on with providing energy storage with additional RE generation please. Market system seems badly broken it’s operation in the last 6 months has definitely not been taking into account what is best for SA.

  • Robert Comerford

    Once again we have an ABCTV reporter constantly calling renewables unpredictable. Funny, I thought that we knew when the sun rose and fell and the weather bureau can tell us when the wind will blow.
    This reporter is not fit to be employed on the ABC.

    • Tom

      You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to position yourself to get the best interviews with the “best” ministers.

      You wouldn’t want to get yourself black-banned now, would you? Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

      I’m afraid that’s business.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Gee, Australian reporters aren’t any braver than American ones.

  • Brendan Filleul

    If the northern or Playford b coal power plants where still operational there would be cheaper prices in SA and no blackouts, it’s a fact. This state moved to quickly to shut coal before it was ready with new technology to replace it and is now paying the price. It is a failed experiment and the current SA government is fully to blame. Why wouldn’t you mothball assets to prove your experiment works first before knocking over perfectly fine coal power plants.

    • Just_Chris

      SA needed 100 MW of power to avoid the blackouts, the grid doesn’t care or know where the power comes from. They could have had 100 MW of diesel generators, gas turbines, coal fired power stations, a bigger interconnector, etc.. The thing is all of these things cost money. Those coal fired power stations closed because they were not making money and their existence meant everyone else in the market wasn’t making any money.

      The government doesn’t build power stations, industry does and there is scant incentive for generators to do anything about this problem – the more supply and the more stability they provide the less money they will make. The current heat wave could result in NSW sitting at $14,000 /MWh for 3 hrs a day for 3 days – if that happens that is going to make the power companies $1.8 billion more than a normal 3 day period. Do you really think they are going to build more capacity to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again next year? Fat chance.

      Mean while our politicians are played like fools by the power industry – “lets build coal fired power stations!” what a smoke screen, no one is going to build a coal fired power station and if they do it’ll be 10 years from now and so small it will make f’all difference. It is all about scaring off investment and delaying new power stations so that those with assets in the field can line their pockets.

      I hope a new entrant into the market tears these buggers a new hole.

      • solarguy

        I couldn’t agree more!

    • solarguy

      No, those coal plants were too expensive to keep operating and so more power was organized from Victoria for the short fall. All would have been fine if Pelican Point had joined in, but it didn’t did it. If you want lay blame try the Federal government and the FF generators bunging this caper on to fool people like you that RE can’t do the job.

      • Brendan Filleul

        Thanks for your concern but I am not fooled. I believe that changes to the energy system must be methodical and fully planned, the right technology is not on the ground and operational in SA for backup. Build it, prove it works and i will back your position that RE is reliable and suitable for all situations. Until then my question stands, Why would you demolish coal plants that can produce cheap and reliable power? You are just increasing the risk of blackouts in the current market environment

        • solarguy

          Simply because the on going cost of repairs, upgrades is uneconomical so it’s all about profit margin shrinking. Try hard to understand this, the banks will not lend on new coal plants as renewables are CHEAPER! But they will finance SOLAR and WIND. The only thing the company can do is decommission the bloody thing,so down she comes.

  • trackdaze

    Can the buffoon who brought in a lump of coal into parliment today explain why the biggest economy in the word can operate with less than 30% coal energy at 12cents (about 17c aud )per kilowatt

    Whilst here we can’t at anything less than 50% for 30cents per kw?

  • Les Johnston

    The political commentary on the SA energy industry reflects an ideological viewpoint rather than scientific evidence. Market failure and the failure of regulation coupled with the regulator reporting on its own regulation highlights stupidity. It is time we had smart politicians and a smart regulatory market.

    • Vickie Cece

      OMG u used smart and politicians in the same sentence 🙂

  • Chris Marshalk

    This Government needs to be sued if someone Dies from Heat Related causes!! Playing with the lives of the elderly. The LNP are nothing but Low life DOGS!!!

  • George Darroch

    The ABC parroting LNP lies about the energy sector has become quite predictable.

    Does Uhlmann have a grudge?

    • Steve159

      Probably a big bank account… or at least a bigger bank account following chats with the LNP

  • trackdaze

    So the update to SA on wednesday is 370MW
    of gas was a now show as it was either broke 120Mw or AEMO didnt ask nice enough 250Mw

  • dylan slaney

    The whole point of Gas turbine generators is to quickly spin up and down as per demand. You don’t need advanced notice!

  • Les Johnston

    I have hope for the future! I also remember a few smart ones in the past.

  • Martin Sevior

    I think this post misses an important point. There was practically no wind power anywhere during these days of extreme demand. If we didn’t have FF we’d be totally screwed. Building more and more wind farms will not fix this problem. This point has to be addressed in a meaningful way.

    • solarguy

      SA has only 48% renewable penetration in the market from wind and solar, so in this instance of course FF was needed, because the wind weren’t a blowin. Pelican Point didn’t join the dance when there was the demand when it should have and that’s was the only problem. If there was storage SA wouldn’t have needed this gas plant, but there isn’t enough or any currently. In the future when supply is 100% RE there will be plenty of storage and perhaps back up from bio fuelled gas turbine generation.

      The point your missing is why Pelican Point didn’t start up to save a blackout! I’d say FF industry and or political will is the possible culprit or incompetence.

    • Ken Fabian

      Fossil fuel plant shifting into the role of backup to increasing amounts of intermittent renewables and spending ever greater amounts of time off-line is exactly the direction we need to be going, but it needs to come on line when it’s needed. That it takes policy with real intent and regulation to bring about an orderly transition – and may even require financial support such plant in an unprofitable backup role – seems obvious. The costs of doing so can and should be utilised as the incentives for investing in solutions – rather than as the excuse to give up on a clean energy transition that, given the climate problem, is not optional. Another 4 or 5 degrees on top of the heatwave conditions we endure now is not a prospect that should be encouraged by entrenching reliance on fossil fuels.

      Restricting renewables in order to preserve the commercial viability of coal and gas – in the face of new extremes of weather and climate and with their externalised costs being intentionally and misleadingly left out of energy policy considerations – is dangerously misguided.

      The steps beyond that, where that backup plant can be phased out are mostly foreseeable – efficiency and demand management that shifts the load as well as support for investment in the kinds of storage emerging now and for the sorts that are in development.

  • clone town warrior

    Good summary. We need to combat the work of the coal lobby. At the moment support for renewables are winning and lets keep it that way.