Australian wind farms to compete with gas to provide grid stability | RenewEconomy

Australian wind farms to compete with gas to provide grid stability

Wind farms to show they can provide same system services – inertia and frequency – as coal and gas plants in major new trial in South Australia.


Hornsdale square

One of the country’s biggest and most recent wind farms will conduct a major trail in South Australia in June to try to dispel one of the biggest myths about wind energy – that wind farms are unable to add to energy security.

The trial – involving the newly constructed 100MW Hornsdale 2 wind farm (which will only be beginning production this week) is being funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and will also involve the Australian Energy Market Operator.

The intention is to show that wind farms can provide what is known as FCAS – frequency control and ancillary services – a critical component in ensuring grid stability in the face of unexpected voltage swings and other faults. Many insist that only coal and gas generators can provide this so-called “inertia” to the grid.

AEMO believes that encouraging wind farms to provide FCAS will add more fuel choice to the narrow FCAS market, and lower prices. Currently, only a few gas generators provide FCAS in South Australia, leading to massive price spikes when the service is called upon.

The program is part of a new, and many would say belated, push to focus on energy security as South Australia heads towards a 50 per cent share of its energy output from wind and solar, a level it is likely to reach this year as the three stages of Hornsdale are complete and the state’s new solar farms are being built.

ARENA this week is also expected to announce a full feasibility study into a potential 200MW pumped hydro facility on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

hornsdale map

As for wind-provided FCAS, some grid operators around the world, such as in Quebec, have required wind farms to provide FCAS for more than a decade. This has been followed by Ontario and is now being adopted in European grids.

In Quebec, which has more than 3,000MW of wind generation, more than two-thirds of its wind capacity can now provide what is known as “synthetic inertia”, which can respond to voltage changes of the type that helped bring down the South Australian grid last September.

That and subsequent blackouts, although not the fault of renewable energy, have sparked a fierce backlash against renewables by the Coalition, the right-wing commentariat and, of course, the coal industry.

However, the trial in June, which will run for 48 hours, is designed to show that wind farms can provide those services as efficiently as the gas generators currently in the market.

Hornsdale is being built after winning contracts with the ACT government auction program that has underpinned its plans to source 100 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2020.

By the time Hornsdale 3 is completed in July, the wind farm will boast 99 Siemens 3.2MW turbines, or a total of 309MW.

“The importance of this test is that if it works as expected that is very good news for the integration of more renewable energy in the grid,” says Franck Woitiez, from the French company Neoen, which owns the Hornsdale complex,

“Traditionally, FCAS has been provided only by fossil fuel generators – gas and coal. This will show that wind can provide the same stability services as baseload, and that its contribution is broader than just providing sustainable and cheaper electricity.”

One of the problems with the FCAS market is that it has been dominated by gas generators because there has been little incentive for wind farms to contribute. But a redesign of the rule is likely to address those issues and encourage more wind farms to provide that service.

“Frequency on the electrical system …. has traditionally only been provided from synchronous thermal generation,” federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.


“This builds on steps already taken to stabilise the grid following the September 2016 blackout in South Australia, which includes a new requirement for two gas generating units to be on at all times, a greater constraint on the Heywood interconnector and more robust settings on wind farms.”

That last point refers to the “ride through mechanisms” that forced nine wind farms to stop producing after multiple voltage swings resulted from tornadoes tearing down three major transmission lines. Those settings – unknown to the market operator although identified as an issue in Europe more than a decade ago – have now been corrected.

Frydenberg said the government had also asked the Bureau of Meteorology to “embed its expertise” within AEMO as an immediate step to strengthen their forecasting capability.

This followed the forced rolling outages in South Australia earlier this month, when the market operator botched its temperature and wind forecasts and found itself without enough power to meet supply, even though one major gas generator was sitting idle.

The situation was worsened because several gas plants failed at the last moment because they were unable to deal with the high temperatures.

Since last September’s blackout, many journalists – particularly those in the Murdoch media and the ABC – have written that renewables cannot provide inertia and other services such as primary and secondary frequency response.

The US government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory wrote last year that this is not true. “Studies and recent operational experience have found that when providing active power control, wind and solar can provide a very large fraction of a system’s energy without a reduction in reliability.”

“In fact, most wind and solar farms can do much more than just stick around during trouble,” the NREL wrote.

“For example, most utility-scale installations—and even some residential rooftop solar systems—are designed to combat voltage sags on power grids. Their electronic inverters can detect brownouts and generate reactive power (AC whose current wave leads its voltage wave) to raise the grid voltage.”

Another report in IEEE Spectrum explains how this happens:

“To emulate the inertial behavior of massive rotating equipment, a renewable generator must somehow find extra power quick.

“Québec’s wind turbines do so through a collaboration between the turbines’ solid-state power electronics and their moving parts.

“When the wind turbines see an imbalance between load and generation that causes a frequency deviation on the system they’re able to … extract some kinetic energy that is stored in the rotating masses of the wind turbines.”

Now, finally, these capabilities are about to be used in Australia.

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  1. solarguy 4 years ago

    Giles, Is there any further info on the Yorke Peninsula 200MW PHS, in terms of capacity in MWH, area it would occupy etc. Storage of this size will be a much needed addition to the new wind farm.

    • Giles 4 years ago

      I think we find out tomorrow.

      • JeffJL 4 years ago


  2. Michael 4 years ago

    So its not the renewables fault for the blackout.
    yet you stated at the moment the way the wind farms are now they can’t handle varying voltages.
    I’m for renewable energy but some of the crap you write simply isn’t true.
    Like renewables are cheaper than fossil fuel !!
    All your figures suggest the wind blows 247 365 days a year and sun shines 24 hours a day everyday of the year.
    If Germany cant do it yet, So stop sending us to the unemployment line on a fantasy.
    The Germany study suggests at the moment Renewables need 89% back up.
    That means we have to build the grid twice.
    Japan the most technological advanced nation on the planet, has no coal of their own. If renewables were cheaper why the hell would they be going that direction relying on imports from all over the planet.
    We need a worldwide carbon trading platform enforced by a global policing body.
    To go it alone like you keep promoting is economic suicide.
    Let’s slow down and have a holistic approach this problem and realise we live on the least densely population continent on the planet.
    We can’t even achieve what Europe can today.

    • Giles 4 years ago

      So, you say renewables need 89% back-up. You know the good news – it already exists, because fossil fuels need the same back=up. which is why is australia we have had – before renewables – more than 55GW of capacity for a grid that rarely used more than 30GW. Stop making shit up.

      • Michael 4 years ago

        Are you saying that 55 GW of Renewables would be the same as the 55 GW we have now ?

        • MikeH 4 years ago

          No. What he is pointing out is that with about 7% renewables penetration across the NEM, there is little economic incentive to provide new backup for renewables since backup already exists to support the fossil fuel generators.

          That will of course change as more fossil fuel generators close.

          And this article is about a different issue – FCAS – which can be cost effectively supplied by batteries.

          You may also wish to drop the hysteria level a notch or two.

          • Michael 4 years ago

            The backup we have now supports the grid, it rightly assumes the generator won’t stop without mechanical break down or planned maintenance.
            Renewable will still have the same issue with the added bonus of no wind or too much randomly or for solar the sun going down or cloudy windy days.
            you cant say 55 GW for renewables.
            you would need 89% more than our 55 GW to try keep grid security.
            If we wish to go to 100 % renewable which I hope we achieve I’ve seen figure suggesting we will need 20 GW of storage.
            Now storage has losses of energy going in and out.
            Conservative 20%.
            So Giles !! I believe you need to stop talking shit!

          • Giles 4 years ago

            So this whole post of your assumes i saying that 55GW of renewables is sufficient. When did i say that/

          • Michael 4 years ago

            No that was your argument we use on average at any given time 30 GW yet we have 50 GW of total generation capacity.
            That was your answer to the German study.
            I support Renewable energy but your as bad as the fossil fuel guys messing with the figures to fit your argument.
            Renewable aren’t cheaper le’s cut the bullshit, we do it because it’s the right thing to do !!
            Base load isn’t a fallacy your article today proves that.
            We need to find to get around this issue.
            Renewables are the future we need to find a way to achieve this while keep what’s left of our manufacturing.
            So don’t be like the other side tell the truth this will be hard and expensive but its it’s the right thing to do.

          • Giles 4 years ago

            NO, i was pointing out that fossil fuels have just about as much redundancy as any renewables. Australia had about 55GW of fossil fuel capacity. Nowhere did i say that that is what australia would need in renewables.
            Renewables aren’t cheaper? Check out what Queensland has paid for coal and gas so far this year. Check out how much it costs to build a new plant of any type. Ask yourself why a zinc refiner (big manufacturing company that wants to expand) such as Sun Metals is choosing to invest in a big solar plant rather than take prices from Queensland’s coal dominated grid?

          • Michael 4 years ago

            Because you use zinc in making solar panels and government subsidy.
            It looks great in the newspaper too.
            you know what’s going on come on mate.

          • hfrik 4 years ago

            No Gouvernment subsidies, and no use of Zinc in solar panels. Siply lower costs. Solar power in deserts like Dubai is below _fuel_ costs of coal power stations today in countries with little red tape for solar.

            So it’s cheaper to build a new solap power plant and let the coal power staion sit idle while being fully manned next to it.

          • Josh Gavin 4 years ago

            “NO, i was pointing out that fossil fuels have just about as much redundancy as any renewables.”

            That doesn’t make sense, and I think you’re wrong. Fossil fuels can back themselves up, but wind cannot.

          • Giles 4 years ago

            Ah, i’ve just worked out who you are from your IP address. No wonder you spamming. be gone with you.

          • MikeH 4 years ago

            From the US? Claiming to support renewables? My guess is a nuclear or buster.

          • MikeH 4 years ago

            The following could be relevant

            “Nuclear energy is, simply, in a rapidly accelerating crisis”


          • Colin Nicholson 4 years ago

            Giles not gp?

          • Josh Gavin 4 years ago

            It’s sad that you stoop to this level, Giles.

          • Calamity_Jean 4 years ago

            Who is he/she/it?

          • MikeH 4 years ago

            > it rightly assumes the generator won’t stop without mechanical break down or planned maintenance.

            So what? It doesn’t matter why backup is required, if the capacity factor of a generator is not 100% (no such thing exists), then it needs backup unless you are willing to accept blackouts.

            And you are throwing claims around like confetti – do you have a source for them?

          • hfrik 4 years ago

            Germany needs 89% backup for renewable (solar, wind) _if_ power trade over the border is considered as forbidden. Which it naturally isn’t it is allowed like the trade of gas coal, oil or uranium. Which means that the backub needed in reality is significant dmaller, depending on the size and strength of the grid in which you do the calculation.

            Australia would have the advantage that it has a landmass multiple time larger than germany, allowing renewable generation to smooth out over this area, thus requiring less backup.
            It has the big disadvantage that in Australia there is no grid to spak of – from german point of view. According german standards, the heywoth connector would have to be tripeled, before any power trade over (one of) it would be allowed. So nothing happens whan a mast of such a interconnector collapses, or a power generator of the size of the late northern power station trips.

            With tahat kind of Grid – which would include some multi GW backbones spaning the continent East-West and North-south, a blackout in south australia would never have happened.

          • Bernd Felsche 4 years ago

            Who will pay for each 3000km interconnector?

          • hfrik 4 years ago

            Those who now pay some thousand Dollars for Power per MWh sometimes, and at other times have no power at all. No matter if seemingly the interconnectors are payed by price differences or by state or grid operator or anybody else. Its the customer who pays the grid, and benefits from it by lower average prices (the lowest cost offer can be used, which is not reachable today) and a stable power supply (no or less backup at home/office/factory needed, no production loss, damaged machines etc. )

          • Bernd Felsche 4 years ago

            NOBODY would pay for such things in Australia. The consumer costs for electrical power would be in the region of $10/kWh

            Germans are already paying around 50 cents/kWh. That’s already plunged 330,000 into energy poverty last year where they’ve had their electricity disconnected because they could not pay their bills. If costs rise 10-fold, then Germans may well be estimating the calorific value of their politicians.

            If you do not know about energy shortage in Germany; then do some targeted research about how people behaved when they could no longer afford to heat their homes in the “approved” way. The forests and parks not already razed to make way for wind turbines will be levelled as people become desperate to heat their homes.

            Energy-intense manufacturing is leaving Germany, taking jobs with it. And expertise as the experts move with the machines; leaving only a few die-hards amongst battalions of feckless middle-managers.

            The only growth industry in Germany over the next 5 years or so is likely to be the construction of coal-fired power stations.

          • hfrik 4 years ago

            Oh you think a usual grid as it is common in all industrial countries beside Australia (which accordingly have much less power failutes in unaffordabely?

            Well take a look what things really cost, the grid ic much cheaper than the blackouts.

            And it’s interesting that you know so many things about germany that germany don’t know. On my power bill there are 24ct/kWh, and a mayor part of this taxes you don’t have.

            And there is such a big power shortage in germany that we export more than 50 TWh each year.

            And energy poverty happens to those dependend on stats money if they spend the money on alcohol and cigarets instead of paying the bills. Power cuts usually do not happen longer than a few day, they remind the people what is more important, and then a few beers less alow to pay the bill.

            Energy intensive industry pays less than in the neighbouring countries that s wy e.g. Aluminum manufacuring reopened colsed down factories durin the last years.

            Ant there is no new coal power staion under way in germany, but a lot of coal power closures.

          • Bernd Felsche 4 years ago

            You seem to have no concept of the size of Australia and of the vast distances between population centres. There is nobody to pay for power transmission lines over distances of e.g. nearly 3000km over very sparsely populated land (<1 person/km²). A country with 20 million consumers cannot pay for such infrastructure; not to build it and not to maintain it.

            Germany's land area fits into Australia about 15 times over [off the top of my head] but Australia has only a quarter of the population. i.e. Australia would have to have a population of over 1100 million for a population — and electrical power consumer — density similar to Germany's. Australia's environment cannot sustain such a population because the majority of it is periodically too arid; for decades at a time.)

            South Australia demonstrates the risks of allowing the infrastructure to decay while "investing" in intermittent and unreliable power generation technology. There's a surfeit of mis-management at play.

            The price that you're paying is different from the AVERAGE of €0.2916 for Germany [ ] which converts to between 40 and 50 cents Australian; depending on the "weather".

            A large part of the electrical power price in Australia IS fuelled by the RET; as is the tendency to grid instability. The RET costs flow into the consumer price.

            You paint a lovely picture quoting the amount of electricity exports; but fail to note that a large part of that was exported with little or NEGATIVE compensation; i.e. producers had to PAY others to accept the power because the exports occurred when there was no demand.

            Further; the COST of imports is high when demand is also high elsewhere.

            Far too many people are under the misapprehension that electrical power can be generated at any time and what's not used is simply "stored" somewhere; to be drawn upon when needed. But electrical power transmission is just power TRANSMISSION using electricity; much the same as a drive belt in a motor car or in a treadle-driven sewing machine. i.e. the generator has to spin when power is required at the other end of the power transmission line.

            As to the energy-poor; you seem to characterise them as alcoholic smokers who cannot budget. I suspect that the picture is not representative as many of those at the bottom of the social insecurity ladder (Hartz IV) are not there by choice. Even some employed people have trouble paying their bills. The power cut for a couple of days means that those affected can sometimes go to a social insecurity officer and get some of the outstanding bills paid. It doesn't induce a change of behaviour because most of those affected are already beyond their capacity of saving/conserving/recycling.

            No new coal fired power stations? Datteln-4?
            Stade? What will replace the nuclear power plants as they close? Nuclear power produced 92TWh last year. 2022 is closer than you think.

            The price of electrical power for energy-intense industry in Germany is twice as high as in the USA. Guess where the investments are going?

            As in academia, one should heed those who've retired from industry and no longer have a career at risk for making politically inconvenient statements.

            You still seem unable to produce any links to supporting material for the claims that you make.

          • Giles 4 years ago

            A large part of the electricity price is fuelled by the RET? Try less than 5 per cent. and then go and review your other nonsense claims.

          • hfrik 4 years ago

            Pleas start reading before telling “alternative Facts”. Correct Australia has a larger size, but if you remove the totally uninhabited parts, you get a area that’s much smaller and where the power lines would be located. A solid grid would be a bit longer than today, but not much. To maintain a 400kV Line is not a significant diffference from a 220kV or 110kV Line, but it has a multiple times higher capacity.

            That’s why coutries with a lot of land area usually also use 800kV, Russia for example. To maintain a 400kV line costs just twice as much per km and year than maintaining a 400V line which connects houses (!) according to the statistic tha Austrian utilities publish.

            Germany gets the same money for it’s Exports in 2016 than it did pay for the imports (price per MWh), till 2015 export prices have always been higher than import prices. The german grid does not export because of surplus, it exports according demand from outside. The recent days there was 56 GW renewable generation in the german grid, while the exports remained aproximately constant.

            In HARZ IV there is a certain amount of money reserved for electric power, and Harz IV is constantly adopted to price changes. And most people come along with this. there is enough material to be read about this if you want to get deeper than some headlines. then you find the ALcohol, drug and similar problems behind it.

            If you would take deeper looks you would notice that neither lulls nor clouds have a infinite size, and that existing grids span much larger areas. You might not be aware, but it is already possible to transfer power from germany to Saigon. To send it further to Australia there are some sea cables missing, correct.

          • Giles 4 years ago

            Yep, and it will be interesting to see who can compete best, renewables providing FCAS, batteries or other storate, or gas

          • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

            Voltage control is not a big problem. The solutions are already available. Existing plant can be used as synchronous condencers. Also the retailers have been installing capacitor banks and inductors.
            As the response to Fcas moves to the load side of the meter, system power swings and voltage problems will reduce simply because they are the product of large base load grids.
            They could use coal station synchronized turbines to manage voltage issues without emmissions. But I believe it will not be necessary when load side response is adopted.

        • Giles 4 years ago

          No, I’m not saying that at all.

      • Nick 4 years ago

        “because fossil fuels need the same back=up”

        No they don’t. Stop making shit up, Giles.

    • Giles 4 years ago

      Also, the wind farms can handle voltage swings, but the AEMO was not aware the settings were different, just as they were not aware that similar settings had been in gas plants a decade earlier. So now all fixed. This story is not about riding through voltage swings, but providing the FCAS to prevent the voltage swings. As you well know.

      • Michael 4 years ago

        You know the issue,
        you can’t forecast when these will stop with high accuracy.
        Until we have storage which is still very expensive and hasn’t been achieved on any large scale as of yet, apart from pumped hydro.
        Then the only thing that will work in conjunction is gas quick start or diesel.
        with the gas issues in this country if we aren’t careful we will be forced into coal.
        Nobody wants that.

        • Giles 4 years ago

          “Hasn’t been achieved on any large scale as of yet”.
          You are making this up. PJM, one of the biggest grids in the US, now sources nearly half of its FCAS from battery storage.

          • Michael 4 years ago

            Worlds largest battery by 2021 400 MWh
            I think you better give me more information on your statement because at the moment I really don’t believe you.

          • Giles 4 years ago

            You’re trolling us from the US, you’ve got google.
            “Energy storage projects also are on the rise, with PJM’s frequency regulation market leading the way. From 2015 into early 2016 the grid operator saw a rush of new energy storage, which now totals 280 MW.”

          • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

            Queen Bee syndrome.

          • MikeH 4 years ago

            >Worlds largest battery by 2021 400 MWh

            So what. You don’t have a clue do you? 🙂

            The battery FCAS purchased by the UK National Grid was awarded to eight vendors with a combined 201 megawatts of projects, ranging in size between 10 and 49 megawatts

            So the largest battery install was 49 MW but through the magic of arithmetic it totals 201 MW.

          • brucelee 4 years ago

            What use is it to jump down someone’s throat? Two commentators in a slanging match helps no one and makes us look intolerant and extremist.

            Better to dissect the argument and provide references, as you eventually did, without the Belittling and sarcasm which serves no one,

            Giles, would be great to see our/your community take the high ground in respectful comment debating. (even if attacked first)

          • stalga 4 years ago

            Maybe he doesn’t suffer fools or trolls gladly. There is nothing wrong with returning like-with-like in many circumstances. This clown showed no respect and was obviously a troll playing the “fake expert” tactic.

            This guy’s intention is to attack his credibility any way he can.

            Whenever you see a post referring to Germany and/or Japan you can be almost certain they are a troll. Aggression is another giveaway.

            Why be courteous or respectful to a troll, especially one attempting to stamp all over your website and attacking your credibility?

          • John Norris 4 years ago

            >> Why be courteous or respectful to a troll? <<

            The Golden Rule.

          • stalga 4 years ago

            Fair comment, I try to remember it myself. Thanks for reminding me.

            A troll should be identified as one though, in case others think his arguments are more plausible than they seem.

          • brucelee 4 years ago

            Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to just present a sound
            referenced argument and win (or learn)?

            Partisan shouting matches result in Trump…

          • stalga 4 years ago

            Overall yes. On the odd occasion this does occur. But it is almost never the intention of a troll to engage in this manner, mostly they seek to polarise and sow doubt. It’s…. problematic.

            But you are dead right, especially regarding the general online community, it’s not constructive or civil. Cheers.

          • 小杜 (xiao du) 4 years ago

            Some of us out here on the internet enjoy the snarkiness.
            Personal attacks though, nope.

        • MikeH 4 years ago

          The UK National Grid has purchased 200MW of sub second response battery storage for FCAS and they expect it to save them 200 million pounds over providing the service with gas.

    • Bristolboy 4 years ago

      “If Germany cant do it yet, So stop sending us to the unemployment line on a fantasy.”

      The only problem with arguing that following the the example of Germany will result in unemployment is the fact that German unemployment rate is 3.9% (and still falling) and Denmark has an unemployment rate of 4.3% – I add Denmark due to the even higher renewables penetration. This is a much lower unemployment rate than most other countries in the world including most of the EU as well as USA, Australia, Canada and UK; if anything this would suggest investing in wind and solar will lower the unemployment rate.

      • Bernd Felsche 4 years ago

        Summary table says 6,3 % *unemployed*. (Arbeitslos)

        Emigration of professionals is on the rise. i.e. qualified (and experienced) people are leaving the country for greener pastures.

        • hfrik 4 years ago

          It depends if you use the local german statistics, which delivers higher number, but is uncomparabel to other countries, because germany counts more people as unemployed as. e.g. the U.S., or you use the statistic according to international standards, which gives you lower numbers and is comparable.

          • Bernd Felsche 4 years ago

            Am I supposed to take your word for it; without you citing any evidence to support what you’re saying, Mme Anonymous?

    • Peter G 4 years ago

      There is no price signal for peak electricity, and demand is not constant 24/7. Coal generation is really unsuited humans electricity requirement. It has been, and is, really expensive to provide the work arounds (spinning reserve, peaking plants and gold plated grid).

      Last time I looked there was bugger all provision for power station and mine rehabilitation so tomorrows consumer will not doubt be paying for yesterdays ‘cheap’ fossil power.

      It the current fossil dominated regime is so good why do Australian consumers pay about the highest rates for electricity and gas in the world? What could be more of an economic disaster that the current fossil fuel and gold plated disaster that we have today.

  3. Tom R 4 years ago

    Looking again at those fallen towers Giles, do you know if there was any checks done on the engineering and materials of those towers, as I am still incredulous how so many could come down.

    • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

      They were brought down by a number of tornadoes. Technically they can be designed for very rare events. Whether or not very strong towers are also economic, or are essential to maintain high quality sinusoidal signals in the network, are different questions.

      • Tom R 4 years ago

        My understanding was the wind gust never exceeded conditions that they should have been able to withstand. ie, the wind gust never reached cyclonic conditions.

        • JIm 4 years ago

          Read what BOM had to say – cyclonic it was

        • DJR96 4 years ago

          BOM did a post event analysis and determined there was indeed 7 tornado cells, some of which cross the lines. These cells were rated F2 (wind speeds 190-260kmh)

          • Bernd Felsche 4 years ago

            BOM did computer models.

            I’m not holding my breath waiting for a post-mortem structural analysis of the failed towers because BOM’s computers are Gods that reveal ultimate truths.

        • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

          If that were true, the standard set for their structural adequacy was set too low (at the time they were commissioned, designed and built). Finding a structural design capable of tornado force is not the problem. The ultimate wind force is often discussed as how often it occurs. It may not be economic to prepare it for once in a 500 year period winds, if it gets unserviceably rusty in only 100 years.

    • DJR96 4 years ago

      I’m not certain if this is the case, but I understand at least one tower actually tipped over entirely. The ground was very moist from wetter than normal winter rains and the concrete footings on one side simply pulled out of the ground. Then when one falls over the cables will likely tug on the next tower along which may be the one pictured and folded instead of tipped over whole. This is just a plausible explanation though.

  4. Andrew Woodroffe 4 years ago

    Fyi and old news, now, but in May of last year, 100% of Portugal’s electricity supply came from renewables for over 107 continuous hours. Of greater relevance here, was Acciona of Spain providing reserve power from their fleet of wind turbines for 3 hours AND making a profit on doing so, in March. Took a bit of planning but when we get to a point of high penetration of renewables on the grid, periods of low load and high winds will offer such opportunities. While it is not possible to produce more wind power (or solar) than the weather allows (very short term gains from the kinetic energy in the blades notwithstanding), it is possible to produce less or run systems turned partially out of the wind (sun).

  5. JHM 4 years ago

    When wind provides FCAS does that bring in additional revenue? If so, how much? Thanks.

  6. horsewhisperer 4 years ago

    “The intention is to show that wind farms can provide what is known as FCAS – frequency control and ancillary services – a critical component in ensuring grid stability in the face of unexpected voltage swings and other faults. Many insist that only coal and gas generators can provide so called “inertia” to the grid.”

    Currently the FCAS market does not include inertia as a service, only 5s/60s/5min/regulation raise and lower (from memory). That is, there is no market for inertia in the NEM at this time. Giles, are you suggesting that Hornsdale 2 will be providing inertia (which they won’t be paid for, as there’s no current market) in addition to FCAS? And do you know the inertia constant (in MWs) it will be able to provide?

    • Giles 4 years ago

      inertia is considered a free service from coal and gas generators. But there is discussion about whether this could be “paid for”, i.e. creating a market. No, i don’t know how much inertia they can provide. that is probably what the trials are for, although i think other manufacturers have made estimates for their technology.

      • Colin Nicholson 4 years ago

        Giles l must admit that all my knowledge on interactions of inertia with energy sources comes from aviation (how can you land a helicopter with the engine failed) and in aviation a lot of attention is paid to tailoring the inertia to the task. I have often wondered if the designers of wind turbines have pushed the inertia, to it’s max value or in extreme cases incorporated large high speed flywheels buried under the wind turbine in the design process. Designing inertia into aerofoil is difficult but as in the osprey it Can be done

        • Ian 4 years ago

          The falling helicopter would force the helicopter blades to resist the force of the air against them, turning the blades into a type of fan. The potential energy of the helicopter would be imparted to the air as kinetic energy- an air brake. Wind turbines can do the same, the blades can be either trimmed or moved in or out of the wind to work more or less efficiently. Power electronics can do the rest to adjust the output AC frequency.

    • Peter G 4 years ago

      Only a few larger coal generators are typically set for frequency regulation so to provide hysteresis, as I understand they are compensated as they forego dispatch to do it.
      This goes to name plate capacity also, as say a 600MW unit might be holding back 5% for regulation – I imagine if there was an incentive to design it that a 2MW wind turbine could do the same using blade pitch. But why would one want to do hold back zero fuel cost generator for regulation??

      • Ian 4 years ago

        The regulation aspect could be curtailment at times of energy excess and not the other way round. Your 2MW turbine would belt out maximum output until asked not to. There could come a time when so many wind turbines and solar arrays are installed that the grid would not be able to handle the energy input and these devices will have to battle it out for market share. That is the whole gripe of the energy industry. Who takes the fall when too much energy is being produced? Why would a gas plant operator be happy to just provide electricity when nobody else can and not be compensated handsomely for it. Coal, of course, cannot compete with zero fuel cost wind or solar when these are generating and cannot realistically curtail energy production beyond the 5% margin.

        • hfrik 4 years ago

          Coal ramps happily up and down in germany today, a problem for the gas plants. Ramping lignite up and down from 20-100% usually needs a hour or less, hard coal is faster. They recieved upgrades the recent years to teach the elephants samba and step dancing. A really good engineering job, but still there are the emissions.

    • hfrik 4 years ago

      Inertia provided by enercon for example is roughly (namplate capacity)*7-9s. It could be made higher, because the primary generator is allowed to have huge frequency deviations while output frequency remains constant (generation IV Turbine)

  7. DJR96 4 years ago

    Quite frankly I think it is a waste of time trying to use wind turbines to provide ‘extra’ power for inertia support. For every instance it does it will need a period of time after it to recover back to potential capacity.

    However, because they use inverters they are excellent at providing reactive power support and adjusting to the needs of the network.

    But trying to utilise mechanical inertia from one is pretty pointless.

    Battery storage is where it will all happen. It will be able to provide ALL of the ancillary services better than anything else including the synchronous generators.

    • Chris Baker 4 years ago

      Not in every instance does it need time to recover… by running wind generators curtailed, that is at a lower output than the current wind conditions can deliver, it gives them headroom to be able to extract extra power from inertia, and while that happens adjust pitch to bring the power up to a higher level to help keep the frequency up. Of course this comes with a cost of running at less than capacity and to encourage this it would need some kind of market mechanism to reward this behaviour.

      • DJR96 4 years ago

        Yes I am aware that that strategy can work. But it is hardly efficient use of the wind turbine. And creating a market mechanism to incentivise this would be messy and costly. Wind turbine are designed to generate power, we should not expect or rely on them to do something they’re not designed to do.

        As I said, battery storage with full four-quadrant bi-directional inverters can provide the solutions to all the problems faced, including full control of the frequency.

        • Chris Baker 4 years ago

          I think we’ll find that the focus of wind generator design will be on how to get more capacity at low wind speeds. The other side of this coin is that at medium and high wind speeds we will have lots of generation capacity available. At times more than what is needed. So there’ll be curtailment anyway as wind penetration become higher and higher. So we might as well use because it for grid stability — it will be more or less for free then. Even before Hornsdale we’ve seen that SA has enough wind capacity to provide 100% of demand at some times. As more wind is installed it will provide 100% more often.

          • Ian 4 years ago

            This is exactly right, to free-wheel a generator like wind or even solar, you need a capacity higher than the load demand at any given instant. That way you can throttle back the energy production or let the reins loose. In any circuit , simple or complex , energy in has got to equal energy out ( plus/minus energy stored). In the old style grid there was very little storage and so production had to balance consumption. The signal to the generators was a voltage change and the response was a frequency change – put more load on a generator and it slows down, take the load off and it speeds up. To counteract the frequency change, more or less steam was supplied to the coal turbines and the same with water to hydro turbines. By analogy, then, wind turbines, to balance the grid load would either turn out the wind to shed energy input or trim the blades to maximise energy output. To offload energy input is easy, but to produce more energy then can be obtained from the wind resource is a lot harder. Some commentators suggest using the inertia of the wind turbine itself, Chris Baker suggests,( I think) that the turbines could be run at something less than maximum at any point in time and then curtailed more or curtailed less. This begs the question: Is it better to run a wind turbine at say 95% of its capability, so that it can rapidly provide a further 5% when needed or to run these turbines at 100% and only provide curtailment when the load drops? I doubt the inherent inertia of a wind turbine would be great enough to provide more than a few seconds to minutes of frequency control if the wind turbine is already running at its maximum output for any wind condition.

          • Chris Baker 4 years ago

            With steam and water turbines there is both the inertia effect and opening the throttle on the steam or water to provide more power. When a big generator trips and there is a sudden loss of power, that load is instantly picked up by all the synchronous generators on line and its the spinning inertia that first provides the power for that extra load for the first few seconds. That extra load slows the turbines and as the frequency drops the governors respond by opening the valves for steam and water, providing more power and bringing the frequency back up.
            At present the wind turbines just follow the frequency down (and back up again) without adjusting their power. The idea of synthetic inertia for the wind turbines is to set up the controller so that it does inject extra power in response to a frequency drop by using the inertia in the spinning blades. This slows the blades and after that first few seconds the controller would have to reduce its output to allow the blades to speed up again. This extra bit of power will have (hopefully) given the governors on the synchronous generators enough time to open and provide the extra power that is now needed.
            If the wind turbines were running curtailed they would also have the capacity to provide more power to help cover for the lost power of the tripped generator.
            Its my view that as we get more and more wind generation, in strong winds they will run curtailed more often and increasingly look like base load generators (that is, with a steady power output), and have headroom for load following.

          • Richard 4 years ago

            You guys are off the mark. With a smart grid you just put a battery alongside enough turbines and solar installs and the problem is solved. No need for fancy feathering etc etc.

            In fact it’s just a matter of scale up and roll out now. All the problems have been solved for 100% renewable grid.

            The real economic problem is that grid scale renewable and storage wont compete with individual and business renewable and storage. It will wreck their model just as it has wrecked the base load old generators

            So we will end up with a second round of stranded assets. After the various old base load generators have gone under, it will be the early rolled out big scale wind farms and solar farms next.

            So how government manages this huge tech revolution, who knows? Who pays for the grid and manages it when it is hardly needed?

      • hfrik 4 years ago

        Yes it comes at the cost. But the ramp rate of a wind turbine exceeds any ramp rate of a open cycle gas turbine or a hydropower station by far. Wind ramps extremely fast. Solar ramps even faster, within milliseconds.

  8. Rob Campbell 4 years ago

    Recently I peeked a submission to SP Ausnet, with the idea of a metronomic 50hz signal embedded in GPS. This would allow even small PV systems to accurately sycronize with the control signal output by the nominated synchronis generator. This could be coupled with a line transmitted signal at local substation level indicating grid presence to prevent islanding. Two simple concepts that would solve nearly all stability issues.

  9. Cooma Doug 4 years ago

    The rate of change of frequency is the problem. As we introduce more solar and wind the rate of change, (rts)increases as system inertia falls. This is only going to continue to be a problem if we use gas plant and other base load for frequency control

    • horsewhisperer 4 years ago

      Can you elaborate on load side response? You mean home control systems disconnecting peoples houses or something else like switching storage on to reduce load?

      • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

        There are many possibilities.
        On the eastern grid with 25gw load
        There would be a spinning reserve requirement to cope with the largest generatoon being lost. That may be 600 mw in nsw and less in the other states.
        Switching batteries on also.
        All could occur with no disruption utilizing chosen devices.

        In the future, switching a car off a charge and supplying the grid instead.

        One million homes in NSW could provide a gw of reserve with no disruption, only planned response which is essentially convienent load shifting. This being an average of 1kw per home. But if you consider a charger coming off charge and discharging, it is so much more effective.

        • Richard 4 years ago

          As long as the person who owns the battery gets paid a fair amount for the discharge, all will be well.
          I distrust utility tied battery installs on principle. They have to prove why I would be better off.
          What they offer is guaranteed power through the grid. But what happens when the tech improves to the point where many other individuals and Business can go off grid.
          What happens to most of us on small blocks and living in flats who can’t supply all their own energy needs. We will be come the cash cows that support the grid infrastructure.

          Is anyone actually thinking about this?

  10. Peter F 4 years ago

    In fact wind and solar can supply much better inertia response than gas turbines in particular. A typical gas turbine has an inertia constant of 3 seconds. That means that all the rotary inertia is equivalent to 3 seconds of generation at rated power.

    However gas turbines are meant to deviate no more than 0.15 Hz or 0.3% of speed or in extreme case 1 Hz or 2% of speed before they go offline. that means that at most they can contribute 4% of their rotary energy to grid stabilisation i.e. 4% of 3 seconds worth of generation, so for a 250MW generator or 10MW for 3 seconds.

    That’s not the end of the problem. If the frequency does drop by 1 Hz the flow rate of the compressor and therefore the power output drops by 4% (49/50)^2 so the generator reduces output by 10MW. Then the governor kicks in and it has to make up a) the energy required to get up to synchronous speed + b) the power lost by underspeed. so the governor has to supply a 20MW boost just to get back where the generator started.

    On the other hand a wind generator or solar plant will generate less power but because modern wind generators are asynchronous machines they can give up 10-20% of their rotary inertia quickly without affecting frequency

  11. Brad Sherman 4 years ago

    Can anyone direct me to a figure showing the diurnal variability of output of Australian wind energy projects? I’m thinking of a composite day that shows the mean output of the system every 5 minutes (or however frequently the data allow averaging). I don’t have a good feel for the day-to-night variability in wind speed, but I’m assured by a friend at Windlab Systems (spawned from my old lab at CSIRO) that at an 80 m hub height on top of a ridge, the diurnal variability is much less than what one experiences within a few metres of the ground.

  12. Alan S 4 years ago

    Is gas fired power actually reliable and dispatchable – or only if the price is right?

  13. Just_Chris 4 years ago

    “Many insist that only coal and gas generators can provide this so-called “inertia” to the grid.”

    Many people also believe that its ok to marry your sister and that evolution is all BS, for those of us who are somewhat progressive I suggest the following:




    not to mention that hydro-electric is also quite up to the job.

  14. James Ray 4 years ago

    Grid stability can be provided by solar, storage and blockchain microgrids, and also complemented by wind, pumped hydro, and other renewable energy technologies. See this petition to express support for local electricity trading, which will give more power (pun intended) to end users of electricity:

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