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How AEMO’s new boss will reform Australia’s energy vision

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Audrey Zibelman, the new chief executive of the Australian Energy Market Operator, has been in the job for little over a week, but is already making her mark, signalling the biggest shift in energy management philosophy in a generation.

If Australia’s fossil fuel industry had hoped that last September’s state-wide blackout would lead to a u-turn on the shift to cleaner and decentralised energy system, then the release of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s final report in the event would leave them bitterly disappointed.

And if they had any thoughts that the new CEO of AEMO, Audrey Zibelman, was going to afford them the indulgences that they had gotten used to over the last few decades, then they are going to be disappointed on that too.

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Several hundred energy market participants converged on Adelaide’s Hilton Hotel on Wednesday to hear the findings from the final report into the now notorious system black and, more crucially, to hear the first public insights from the new AEMO boss.

“Thank god you’re here,” said the Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood, referring to a former TV program, but echoing the mood of most.

And while many in mainstream media chose to focus on the role of wind farms in South Australia’s “system black,” and wonder why the shuttered Northern coal fired station is not being fired up again, both AEMO and its new boss were looking to the future, and with a sense of urgency.

Zibelman is the former head of New York’s Public Service Commission, charged with implementing that state’s ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision program, and its target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, which is going to focus a lot on decentralised generation.

“When I arrived on the scene in New York, it was just after Hurricane Sandy,” she said in her opening comments on Wednesday.

“After seeing New York city witout electricity for a number of days and people living in 40-storey buildings walking down to get water and cell phones charged – these were not young people, these were grandmas and granddads – it was clear that this industry was going to have to fundamentally change.”

And Australia, she says, is actually going to lead the world on this, both on the breadth and the scale of what she, chief scientist Alan Finkel and many others describes as the inevitable and unstoppable energy transition.

“We built systems in the 20th century around large centralised power plants,” Zibelman said. “That made a lot of sense. Now the industry is changing, cutomer preferences are changing, choices are changing, so we are creating what lot of people are calling the internet of things.

“The idea is that you need to create a very flexible network that can respond in real time, and truly real time, to a lot of different events and a lot different sequences.

“That is going to need a whole different approach … and my excitement about Australia is that, quite frankly, Australian is going to be leading the world on this.”

And just for good measure, she added: “We have a lot of smart people to work together to create a much more productive system that can show the rest of the world that this new technology is not frightening, it actually allows for a more productive, cheaper and cleaner system.”

Get that? A faster, more productive, cheaper and cleaner system. That’s the answer. When Zibelman is talking about speed of response, in real time, she is not talking about the slow, clunky coal and gas fired generators that currently dominate the grid.

She is talking storage, and demand response. And she is not just talking about grid scale, but about households and businesses, and tapping into their own resources of rooftop solar and battery storate, something that SA Power Networks says will be everywhere, thanks to its plunging costs.

“The objective is how we use these technologies better,” Zibelman says.

“If we compensate people who invest in batteries or distributed generation on their side of the meter ,and we really create a two-way system, then we we create a more productive system, meaning you don’t have to invest in generation that you are only going to use a few hours a year, because you can use the load itself as a balancing resource.

“It is that signal that says: ‘Hey there, we don’t really need you,” that’s going to help moderate prices. It’s pure economics applying to them and making demand a much more active portion of the grid.”

Be very clear about this. This marks a fundamental change in thinking about the management of Australia’s grid, which has previously been based around the idea that all grid problems should be solved by shovelling yet more energy down the poles and wires.

Zibelman is signalling an end to this. She is, in effect, signalling an end for the need of those peaking plants that operate for just a few hours of the year, yet conspire to push Australia’s wholesale electricity prices to stratospheric levels.

She is signalling that the business case of the generators – for so long based around getting 30 per cent of their revenue from 30 hours of pricing parties a year – will no longer be valid. Hello battery storage. Hello demand management. Hello a fast and responsive grid.

Quite how the Coalition, and the ideologies in mainstream media are going to respond to this, goodness only knows. But they are going to hear pretty much the same think from Alan Finkel. They have already heard it from the CSIRO and the network owners and many others.

The only ones disputing this vision energy reform are the fossil fuel generators themselves, and their commodity suppliers.

“I’m optimistic quite frankly – we all see the same end game. We want the sytem to work for South Australia, and we want it to work for Victoria and Queensland (both states with high renewable energy targets) and anywhere else.”

Still, Zibelman has some work repairing the strained relations between AEMO and the South Australian government, who blame its poor risk management for many of the issues that have beset the state this year.

She said she met with the premier Jay Weatherill and energy minister Tom Koutsantonis on Tuesday. Maintaining energy security over the coming summer will be her primary focus, she says.

But given her comments on Wednesday, it will be interesting how much she pushes the “smart controls” – load management, battery storage, over the state’s idea of using temporary diesel generators.

Later in a press conference dominated by the extraordinary attempts by the attendant media to get AEMO to blame wind energy for the blackout and recommend a return to coal-fired generation, Zibelman said:

“In the US we had a major blackout in 2003 that was related to coal and gas that dropped off the system. There was an event in Texas a few years ago that people though was around wind generation, but it turns out it wasn’t about wind generation.

“The issue is not about what resource we might have  … the issue is that in operating a power grid there are a number of contingencies you will face, and you ought to be able to anticipate when these contingencies happen, and what’s your’s next step.

“And whether you have 30, 40, 50 per cent renewables, you need to ensure you have the control systems in place to manage it. That’s our job in AEMO.”

Still, the media is not buying it. The Coalition is still wondering why coal fired power station are being switched off, and The Australian thundered on Wednesday that “only baseload can provide a foolproof and cost-effective long term back-up for renewable intermittency.” They are just not listening.

Zibelman does not have the regulatory powers that she had in New York, and more’s the pity because AEMO, according to its submission to the Finkel Review, is clearly frustrated by the glacial pace of change in the country’s rule maker, the Australian Energy Market Commission.

“This is an electric system that used to see changes in terms of decades,” Zibelman said. “Now, technologies are evolving so quickly – that you really need to got to think about how to adapt system to those technology changes .

“That is what we seeing in Australia, and that what we saw in New York. We need to make sure we are moving as fast as the market and the technology is.”  

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  • lin

    Zibelman sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Good luck to her. She will need it, with so many vested interests dedicated to continuing the rip-off.

    • Darren

      If history in this country shows us anything, she will quit out of frustration.

      Lets hope she manages to be the change we need.

      • FeFiFoFum

        Was thinking the same thing.
        And the Sol Trulijo comment below as well,, she will eventually leave out of frustration and bemusement at how backward things are here.

        All thats left is for consumers to empower themselves and self generate and consume and for some proactive solar/storage suppliers to facilitate this so its fully affordable.

        Eventually the dinosaur FF generators and gouging retailers will be killed one watt at a time.

  • Rob

    Welcome to the “Stupid Country” Audrey. Here’s hoping you can drag us kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    • Tom

      I hope she’s had a chat to Gillian Triggs about what happens to a person who says something that the government doesn’t like.

      • Colin

        She’s a woman…she’ll win.

  • suthnsun

    Ms Zibelman knows what she is talking about, bravo! All power to her on the NEM. The M media are decades out of date and totally misguiding. Why are they attempting to guide us at all? It smells of corruption and I suspect a forensic accounting excercise would find the money flow..

  • DJR96

    I’m thinking it is about time the AEMC was dissolved. It is THE barrier to responsive regulatory reform. Especially when you consider it is made up of ex-coal execs……

    Take the 5-minute settlement period rule proposal. They have deferred that decision twice now because they know it will reduce coals revenue and open the market to other players. But by not approving this they are clearly acting contrary to the NEO. That is unacceptable.

    • Andy Saunders

      5 minute rule passed the Senate just now. Unanimously.

      • Tom

        That’s awesome!

        Has it passed the House of Reps? Or was it a private member’s bill?

        And do you have a link to confirm it? I was trying to find it on the senate’s website, but I couldn’t find it.

        Still, a fantastic step in the right direction.

        • Mike Shackleton

          It’s a statement of support for changing the rules to 5 minute settlement. It doesn’t force AEMO to actually do anything, but it carries weight.

  • humanitarian solar

    A communications technician’s (me) recommendations for power and communications in future natural disasters like Cyclone Debbie and Hurricane Sandy:

    A) transition to renewable energy microgrids nested in larger state grids,

    B) transition to local solar/storage for all important community infrastructure including a minimum of 8 hours of storage,

    C) initiate minimum standards for home battery storage to have a provision of access to it’s DC power (for example USB ports), for charging communications equipment like mobile phones and laptop computers directly, in the event AC system components fail.

  • Chris Fraser

    I like this speech (those parts repeated by RE). All political interests must now give AEMO breathing space for two solid years …

    • humanitarian solar

      Now sanity prevails in the AEMO, the next evolutionary challenge is the AEMC. Like Uhlmann, any person who is reluctant to get the facts or listen to our best scientists, jeopardises their public credibility, and their career, including politicians. The record will remain in place until the next federal election. We need the “free” media to keep the spotlight on. We know what sort of grid has widespread outages in lightning, wind, floods and fires. We’re seeing that with Cyclone Debbie. After Alan Finkel tables his teams meta-analysis backed by comprehensive public and industry consultation, any policy workers failing to act on the report, need to be identified for what they are, incompetent and corrupt officials and their politicians, holding back the economy and the health and wellbeing of this countries people – their electorate. The Liberals got smashed in the WA election and the Labor Party did really well, and if they win the next federal election, I hope the first thing they do is carry out an extensive purge by kicking people like Uhlmann out of the ABC, for his role as mouthpiece for big business and the Liberal Party.

  • howardpatr

    Take a bet we don’t see any innovation and change for the Australian Energy Market Commission coming any time soon from Turnbull and his anthropogenic climate denying minders.

    Turnbull, Angus Taylor, Canavan, Frydenberg and the likes might see Zibelman off out of disgust with their bullshit.

  • Chris Drongers

    One of Ziebeleman’s advantages is that she can do a Trujillo – get in, tell unpalatable truths, make big changes and enemies or at least cause incumbents major embarrassment, and then go home with a big plus on her cv.

    • humanitarian solar

      It’s another tipping point. First the science, then the technology to act on the science, then the leadership to act on the technology.

  • humanitarian solar

    I’m really surprised Shorten and Weatherill haven’t said something about wind turbines not being blamed for Queensland’s cyclone outages. There must be renewable energy there somewhere, insidiously undermining the system and Uhlmann and Frydenberg have dropped the ball in finding it.

  • Goldie444

    Was the AEMO event recorded?
    Is a link available?

    • Maybe check CEDA Adelaide website.

  • Patrick Comerford

    This lady will have her work cut out for her. I wish her well. Seeing as she sees the way forward with more household solar generation and storage she may want to get up to speed with the latest AS4777 requirement which comes into effect on the 1st April. This places a 5kw limit on rooftop PV inverter size. Which basically prohibits the use of any ac coupled battery storage that has its own inverter built in. (5kw in the case of Teslas Pwerwall 2) Energy companies are remaining silent on this. Naturally its in their interest to obstruct and delay. So Ms Zibelman welcome to the bear pit.

    • solarguy

      Only for single phase inverters Patrick, 3 phase inverters not a problem. So the AC PowerWall may indeed have a problem, but I think it can be solved.

  • Hermann

    Meanwhile…
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-29/sa-power-prices-hikes,-reliability-issues-after-hazelwood/8397696

    How long is the Australian public going to put up with this? Power prices have doubled over the last few years with no end in sight thanks to our worship of and sacrifices to the almighty climate god?

    How much more do our poor families have to suffer?

    Do we have to wait until we, just like people in energy poor countries, collect cow dung and driftwood to cook our food and stay warm in winter?

    • humanitarian solar

      Your an engineer who worked in the grid. Innovation happens. Technology changes. Jobs are displaced by new ones.

      • Hermann

        That’s right. In the past private enterprises and individuals have performed that task with countries that had planned state run economies being left behind! The goal was then to improve productivity and as such better the life of whole generations.

        What we have now is regression to mindless government intrusion intervention, subsidies of unworkable pipe dreams resulting in manufacturing leaving the place in droves all in the name of some absurd climate panic!

        Planned economies have never worked and never will. The experience from the past should have taught us some valuable lessons if only we would listen!

        Eventually people will have a gut-full of all this and abandon a sensitive environmental policy altogether, just as is happening in the USA right now, especially when global warming, for which is little real evidence, fails to eventuate!

        It is not the idea of cleaner energy that worries me, but its reckless pursuit even in the face of massive failures and at a massive cost to our economy!

        • humanitarian solar

          Like myself, which I spoke about on this site, this guy thought it likely Trump would be elected. Here’s one of the reasons… I notice Pauline took Liberal votes away in the WA election. What do you make of the phenomena?
          http://economyandmarkets.com/7-reasons-why-donald-trump-could-be-the-next-u-s-president/
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f065d86026b97d8710bf0f4d76094080f2246886af7e6d874ff9e058fe1e3e8b.jpg

          • nakedChimp

            In Germany they call this: “Der Teufel scheisst immer auf den groessten Haufen”
            😉

            A more modern explanation uses simple mathematics and looks at how real world GDP development figures interact with positive ROIs on capital invested (over the whole economy) and come to similar conclusions.
            And the best – it’s not over yet – this thing will be driven to the wall, what a stupid ride.

          • humanitarian solar

            Oh yep I can see that. Like an olympic race, with winners taking gold, silver and bronze. I’m interested in watching the end point too and wondering when it will hit rock bottom. Something new appears to be happening with a tide of populist voters. The “elitist right” haven’t got the empathy to work effectively with the populists, so we’re pretty safe they will keep bickering and probably keep splintering further. Wherever possible I always favour populist arguments. I’m uncertain where the populists will ultimately align themselves in the political spectrum.

          • Hermann
          • nakedChimp

            That period is called Dunkelflaute and known to RE aficionados for like 15 years now.
            So you finally caught up with us where we were 15 years ago?
            Congratulations.

            And Germany is capping RE as it was so successful, that the incumbents would have lost EVERYTHING over there. They lobbied politicians heavily to put on the brakes to have a chance for a piece of the future action.

            PS: yes, engineers have been working on this problem and there is more from 50 Hertz and other organizations that ARE NOT FF-POWER-PLANT-LOBBYISTS and how to tackle this problem.

            PPS: look at this Reuters piece pushed by the Australian conservative FF-lobby think tank Grattan Institute about the Energy Crisis that we have here and how real it is if you compare it to articles on reneweconomy…
            Australia’s dirtiest coal plant closes, energy crisis deepens

            PPS: Though you probably won’t be bothered to read this. 🙂

        • solarguy

          Hermann, see a doctor or press your self destruct button for all our sake and yours.

          • Ian

            Aw, don’t be so hard on the guy, he does bring forth oppositional arguments which we might not see otherwise on this site, and you can practice your renewables apologetics to counter these. What’s the good of having too much Yin if there is no Yan.

          • humanitarian solar

            solarguy has already fessed up he had a Sergeant Major for a father.

          • humanitarian solar

            Heh I just realised you’ve got the Yin and the Yang the opposite way around. Yang is the masculine principle in the philosophy and Yin is the feminine. Will and intellect are more masculine and feeling and body are more feminine. So in these various eastern philosophies and indigenous cultures, Fire = will, Air = intellect, Water = feeling, Earth = body. These also correlate with styles of learning or Jung’s personality functions, where there’s “intuition” (fiery spontaneous apprehension of truth), “insight” (cognitive development), feeling (emotional intelligence), “body” (sense experience). As you say, all styles or facets of awareness need to be balanced and this also furthers the development of each individual facet. On this website, it’s fair to say most people are towards fire and air. Though Giles like to balance himself by going surfing. Intellect (air) is opposite water (feeling) so getting on the board and going for a paddle is good for him.

          • Hermann

            Of course, the standard reply when one runs out of arguments…

          • Hermann

            Ad hominem…

        • Darren

          There is a tonne of evidence that goes back 800,000 years. Science just is. Science just works.

          Come live in Nth QLD, Climate change is real. You can deny it all you want but science is still there, still right, still factual. Amazing how facts > opinions.

          • humanitarian solar

            This group of people think they are “evidence based”. The problem is their intellect hasn’t yet expanded to take in multiple contexts and reconcile the data in those various contexts. That’s why the “environmental” scientists are often more evolved than people into science for its “utility value” and engineers often practice their intellect in an even more limited context. “Ideologues” usually reason from erroneous premises in the first place, even though they too often strive to be evidence based. It’s all been plotted by developmental and cognitive psychologists. A gross generalisation might be:
            Ideologues = “concrete operational thought”
            Most “utility value” scientists are probably “formal operations”
            Many “environmental scientists” are approaching or capable of “dialectical thinking”. See Piaget’s stages of cognitive development and later research.

          • Chris Fraser

            Hopefully the limited context of the science and engineering folk means they’ll have a very good focus on their specified task, whenever this world is in need of a bit of repair 😱

          • humanitarian solar

            It depends on their motivation to produce stuff that really helps humanity and the environment, or if they are steeped in materialism adding to problems. Allot of products are designed to capture markets and not really that practical, like the first powerwall, looked good, though hung on a wall and couldn’t be stacked side by side. So much junk being created by those in the unlimited growth paradigm. Notice how few engineers design stuff friendly for the environment and all the other species. Intellect so focused down on money, markets, selling, desire, image, their version of success.

          • Hermann

            As long as governments and ideology keeps out of it, just like in the good old days…

          • Colin

            Hermann,

            I’m old enough to remember those “good old days” and they were not all that you are presenting them to be…

          • Hermann

            And what about the record cold winter in Europe last January?

            Oh wait, that was just caused by global warming…

          • Darren

            see, thats where you went wrong. thats why it was changed from global warming to climate change because you just displayed exactly why.

            “we still have snow, its not warming”.

            No. We have accelerated the process to a stage far faster than it would occur naturally.
            The warming has thawed permafrost which is now releasing trapped methane and other things, such as anthrax, back into the world at large.

            And yes the nth has a tropical climate, that is now nothing like it was 20 years ago. Winter doesnt exist up here anymore. its just summer and not summer. We are still in drought. severely. We just had a heatwave right after debbie. This isnt “normal” tropical weather.

            and who said we are destroying anything? Coal is dead. the jobs are dead. Thanks to burning coal and fuel constantly 24/7/365 the ocean is acidified, the reef is dead, the fish are dead. People that worked in these industries suffer.

            We are on the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution and just like telegrams and horse and buggies, your time is done. Retool, reskill or retire.

            Trump’s EO wont achieve anything. He wont save jobs in coal. He wont stop the transition.

            Economics of scale, and social aspects dont care about your opinion, only facts.

          • Hermann

            The last glacial winter in Europe was quite recent, in January 2017…
            http://www.euronews.com/2017/01/07/glacial-conditions-cause-death-and-disruption-in-europe

          • Darren

            what does that have to do with anything, its going to get worse at both ends of the scale. You clearly still dont get it. When winters run long and farming is effected. You may start to get it, but then it will be too late.

            What makes me believe? Science and data. Your/Mine opinions hold no weight in scientific discussion. Only facts. Scientific Facts.

            I suggest you put away your electricity, gps, phone, and dont seek help from medicine if you denounce science.

            if a tree falls in the woods and you arent there, does it make sound?
            of course it does.

            If climate change is still happening and you dont observe it, is it still happening? Of course it is.

            Demonizing of coal, no. Factually based evidence stating it is a major contributor is not demonization, its truth. Its served its purpose and its use is done. left in the past where it will remain.

            Predictions havent happened? really? you must be blind living in your own little echosphere.

            Again, another mistake of deniers is expecting to see something happen within moments. This is a long game, not a short game.

            You are what we up north call “Last Minuters”.
            A prime example is tourists on hamilton who ignored 4 days of warnings, then complain of no food, water, electricity and cant get out to get home.

            You were warned, you ignored it until it was too late. Thats you.
            What do you have to lose by acting now? Nothing.
            What do you have to lose by acting too late? Everything.

            When 30 million people are displaced in bengladesh from rising sea water that removes 20% of the country.
            The 6 million displaced in florida.

            Syria, all started with drought when 1.3million had to move to a city that couldnt support a close to doubling of its population…

            But lets just ignore these facts, because they dont effect you.

          • Hermann

            Also, the Earth is flat…

          • Darren

            I assumed this was your default stance. Go find the edge.

          • Colin

            +2˚C

            Hermann,

            You will no doubt be pleased to know that although we are currently only at about +1˚C the chances of avoiding +2˚C and “catastrophic and irreversible” global warming are very slim indeed. You must be very proud of your part in ensuring that this has occurred.

          • Hermann

            So far none, but none of the dire predictions of Tim Flannery, Al Gore and other prophets of the coming doom and gloom have come to pass. None!

            So what makes you still believe in this global fleecing?
            What makes you demonizing the very commodity that has dragged us from the clutches of medieval darkness into the light of modern times?

            And I say it again, by all means develop cleaner energy but be reasonable about it without plunging the country into economical darkness and desperation. SA is almost there. Ok their government might well be tossed out next year, but the damage has already been done!

            I don’t think I’m the only one who is sick and tired of ever escalating power prices because some dreamers want to be leaders in green energy! Let’s only hope the SA disease does not keep spreading across the nation!

          • Colin

            Hermann,

            If you were genuinely interested in this debate you would realise that global warming causes climate change.

            It is hard not to view you as a troll.

          • Hermann

            Australia has a very low industrial density due to its low population compared with the large populated areas of the northern hemisphere. To assume that Australia could have an influence on the global climate is just absurd.

            Do you guys really believe that destroying that little what’s left of our industry, that which has not fled the country, will safe us? It will cause the poor among us to collect camel dung to heat the fire to keep warm in winter.

            Time for a bit of a reality check here! Unless your agenda includes the de-industrialisation of Australia with the associated widespread grinding poverty!

          • Hermann

            North QLD has a tropical climate. Has had for a long time. Deal with it or move! May I suggest the UK?

          • Hermann

            Why I have become a climate cynic…

            For almost 2 decades the most outrageous predictions have been made about the consequences of rising temperatures.

            Not one has come to pass. The link below is for Europe, which has just gone through the coldest January in decades.

            You can find similar failed predictions for Australia, especially made by Tim Flannery.

            We can of course keep our heads in the sand but eventually people will be tired of escalating power prices, failed but costly experiments, unstable power grids, a deteriorating economy and failing living standards, all for that elusive pipe dream. People might well end up losing all interest in our environment! It’s becoming more and more like crying wolf once too often.
            https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/02/the-big-list-of-failed-climate-predictions/

          • Darren

            Funny thing about predictions, They are based off information at the time.
            Science is always moving forward, new data brings new information, understanding and new predictions.

            You seem to be focused on snow and how snow still exists.
            You also seem to ignore how c02 will last decades+ even after all fossil fuels is stopped, which is the main driver, compounding, increasingly.

            The ocean is saturated and can no longer absorb any more c02, so half of the worlds way of absorbing c02 is now compromised and the atmosphere is taking the excess. We have passed 400ppm of c02, this is the tipping point. Ocean acidification is undeniable. For every part of c02 the ocean can longer take, the atmosphere has to.

            So I expect your next claim to be, we stopped, and its still rising, see, look over there while you ignore how the c02 will remain for 100 years or more.

            You only look to the short term, but in the next 50 years, the issue will further intensified.

            The models used and reports in 1990 have come to pass, and are still considered accurate for the long term outlook.

            In the last year, ocean temps are highest on record, see bleaching. You seem to underestimate the severe impact of losing the reefs has.

            2016 was 1.1C above preindustrial temps.
            4 million square km’s of ice receeded at the poles.
            sea levels are at record highs.
            IPCC lowballs expectations.
            the Antartic ice shelf is going to break off. The largest ice berg and unknown amounts of glacial water will be released at this point. This one event alone will raise global sea levels by ~4 inches
            Antartica has 90% of the worlds frozen water. If antartica was to melt entirely, it has the potential to rise sea levels by 200 feet.

            the horn of africa is now considered in famine. This is a direct result of drought from climate change.

            https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/climate-breaks-multiple-records-2016-global-impacts

            http://www.csiro.au/~/media/OnA/Files/StateOfTheClimate2016_24ppReport_WEB.pdf

            So lets remove the climate change argument entirely. Lets suggest you are right, its all a scam, its a natural process, nothing to see here.

            How long do you suggest we

            A) wait to do anything?
            B) deal with a sea level rise of 200 feet?

        • Colin

          “It is not the idea of cleaner energy that worries me, but its reckless pursuit even in the face of massive failures and at a massive cost to our economy!”

          That was meant as a joke, right?

          • Hermann

            Just wait until next March…

    • Chris Fraser

      The AEMO projection in the linked article has already been explained on RE. It’s not apocalyptic.

  • Les Johnston

    Delivering energy – smart energy – this is our future. The sooner the more consumers will save.

  • Phil

    A broken system that will collapse in on itself.
    Worlds best practise
    The Experts in this industry have told me so for 15 years.

  • Radbug

    So Zibelman envisages a B2 bomber solution, a stable state (baseload) atop an unstable state (renewables), with fiercely complicated computer software in between. Need I remind Ms Zibelman of the software disaster suffered at the Bureau of Statistics on Census night? The more complicated the software, the more back doors, the greater the opportunity for hacking.

    • humanitarian solar

      I’m inclined to agree with you. Both Giles and Zibelman probably over estimate the value of smart technology, given inverters have such a fast ramp time, once all the fossil fuel is kicked off the grid, there won’t be the need for the same degree of “smarts” and “demand management”. As you say, with humanity at its present stage of evolution, the technology is likely to be misused and abused by “smart networks”. The “storage aggregator” approach is probably premature. Also as you say, batteries are getting so cheap that people will save as much of their power up to ensure they get cheap power rather than having to negotiate FIT’s and storage aggregators. I don’t know why, though Giles has never really seemed interested in gear like Selectronic does with load management behind the meter. He appears to think primarily in terms of “grid side smarts”. I think renew economy writers are also often gullible and as soon as a manufacturer mentions the “software smarts” they automatically think it’s the way of the future and going to work for us.

      • Radbug

        I sent an essay on methanol to Adam Bandt. Methanol can be created using electricity. Electricity from renewables could make the methanol, which would then be used in neighbourhood power stations, adjoining large consumers where co-generation would be feasible. So you thereby transform an unstable supply entity into a stable supply entity. The tank farm of renewable methanol could be topped up with natural gas-derived Qatari methanol, if required. I also see the shopping malls becoming the new filling stations. Park, plug in, slip a couple of coins into the meter, and do some shopping.

        • humanitarian solar

          I saw fuel cells mentioned in one solar book I read, used for high end remote and off grid installs. Bandt is probably only interested in political currency and probably isn’t technically inclined.

          • Brian Tehan

            As battery replacements with solar, fuel cells aren’t very efficient. Current round trip efficiency is about 30%. However, hydrogen hydrogen on its own or as a hydrocarbon will be needed for other purposes in a zero carbon world but it’s likely to be produced more efficiently on a large scale.

          • humanitarian solar

            The hydrogen fuel cell in this book was a backup for the battery, for winter or other bad weather. If it’s possible to make a fuel efficiently with renewable energy then that’s fantastic. I think I had a different kind of hydrogen fuel cell a mate put in my campervan. It had plates like a battery and an electrolyte, electricity was applied and it split the hydrogen and oxygen atoms apart and then the gas was fed into the carby. As far as I could tell, it produced better fuel consumption. We tried it on a bench first by plumbing the gas into water, then subsequently lit the bubbles as the gas escaped and they would pop with an explosion. Got a video on a flash disk somewhere.

    • velocite

      I didn’t read any reference to ‘baseload’ in this article, so what are you talking about? And your use of the terms ‘stable’ and ‘unstable’ is just wrong: what you must mean is something like ‘constant’ and ‘intermittent’ or ‘variable’. And she does refer to storage, which is quite obviously the answer to making proper use of intermittent renewables. I doubt that you have any substantial basis for your ‘fiercely complicated’ software remark – as I do that you have any insight into the Census night issue.

  • Radbug

    Zibelman’s dream will fail when EV’s become ubiquitous. And not just EV cars, but EV concrete trucks. Remember, 1000 mAh/gm batteries are not far off and when that happens EVERYBODY will want an EV and they’ll drive everywhere in them. That represents a BIG appetite for power. No, no, no. The grid is here to stay!

  • Ray Miller

    Interesting times ahead!
    Finally AEMO is starting to manage the network and shine some light into the dark corners. It is the thinking which is the important progress.
    We are constantly reminded here in Queensland and for that matter the whole of Australia when we have our severe weather events a centralized energy system is not really an advantage but the opposite.
    All the best Ms Zibelman.

  • John Saint-Smith

    “When I arrived on the scene in New York, it was just after Hurricane Sandy,” said the new CEO of AEMO, Audrey Zibelman …” it was clear that this industry was going to have to fundamentally change.”

    Meanwhile, over in Canberra, Turnbull lambasts Adam Bandt for daring to raise the ‘political’ agenda of climate change during Cyclone Debbie, by asking why the government is still promoting the construction of huge new coal mines that would undoubtedly make the situation worse in the future.

    • humanitarian solar

      I think it would have been more skilful to point out Frydenberg (and Uhlmann) have dropped the ball by not finding the renewable energy that is to blame for the power outages. Also people are running out of water due to pumps being offline and ditto sewerage can’t be pumped. All the infrastructure has been held back from renewable energy and storage, with the consequences for communities. Even ARENA is absolutely hopeless at grasping the import of integrated and local RE/storage. They’re putting stuff in the desert when our water, sewerage and communications isn’t sorted. It’s because all these people are unconsciously attempting to universalise their intellects with global solutions to climate change, and their approaches really are not grounded with what communities needs. It’s a stage in character development.

  • velocite

    As I understand it the role of AEMO is to administer the NEM according to the market rules. AFAIK the closest it gets to directly influencing planning is in their annual ‘Statement of Opportunities’, where they forecast demand and make comments on future supply risks base on what is known about generator closures and start ups and distribution network capacities. If the answer to less coal and more wind is more storage, as it plainly is, how is AEMO going to make that happen?

    And, although I feel positive about Turnbull’s more storage in the Snowy idea, I wonder what planning document shows how that fits in the grid in 4 – 7 years time?

    • Chris Fraser

      … and what energy source will be employed to create the hydro storage ?

      • velocite

        Indeed. It’s a big storage so I imagine it would need to be fed from wind and solar farms from far and wide. Obvious transmission issues. I read a report by the Melbourne Energy Institute a while ago which reviewed over 40 locations around the country for pumped hydro.

        • Chris Fraser

          I think the system has an affinity for storage, so it probably would fit in – provided it comes from a clean source. Danger of stranding possibly comes from changing precipitation patterns. Snowy 2.0 was binned before – why is it economic now ?

  • Maroun George Rahme

    This is totally mislead, battery technology is not the answer and Teslar is already broke – watch this space. HYDROGEN is the way of the future

    • Hermann

      That’s why he tries to rope SA in to help him out…

  • Hermann