Fear and ignorance: Gas plant "explodes", renewables blamed | RenewEconomy

Fear and ignorance: Gas plant “explodes”, renewables blamed

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As renewables were again, somehow, blamed for an explosion and outages at South Australia’s Torrens Island gas plant over the weekend, the Coalition was busy taking its coal power campaign to new levels of stupidity. Facts don’t matter any more.

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220px-Torrens_Island_Power_station_from_the_river_-_portraitIt didn’t take long after the failure of South Australia’s two biggest gas plants late on Friday afternoon for the abuse to start flowing.

“Renewables, absolute frigging BS,” wrote one correspondent in an email to RenewEconomy within a few hours of the sudden loss of 600MW of gas-fired generation. “What a lot of crap this renewable story is.”

It happens all the time.

+ When a storm knocks down three power lines in September, the immediate reaction is to blame renewables;

+ when a condenser in Victoria hits the ground and takes out the main inter-connector, forcing rolling stoppages in South Australia, the immediate reaction is to blame renewables;

+ when more storms take down power lines after Christmas, causing more outages in South Australia, the blame is put on wind and solar;

+ and when the market operators turn out to be the only people in South Australia unaware of a pending heat wave, forcing them to miscalculate a demand surge and impose rolling stoppages, it was once again the fault of renewable energy.

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Friday’s events, however, took this blame game to a new level. Some sort of explosion occurred at the Torrens Island gas plant, starting fires and causing three units (totalling 400MW) to suddenly trip off and lose power, and causing the Pelican Point gas generator (210MW) to do the same.

In response, the market operator asked some other gas generators to fire up, and it and the government asked consumers to reduce their power load where they could, particularly with air conditioning.

The very same approach had been taken by the NSW government with their coal-fired grid a few weeks earlier when two units at one of the state’s biggest coal generators packed up and the two biggest gas generators either tripped or failed to start when needed.

And, as occurred in NSW, solar and wind played a critical role in keeping the power on. Energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said that if it wasn’t for wind and solar then the lights would have gone out on Friday. Indeed, rooftop solar PV was providing 13.5 per cent of the state’s electricity demand when the gas plants tripped.

Apparently, though, it’s all the fault of renewables, a conclusion drawn from the same twisted logic that supports the gun lobby in the US. As Don Russell wrote in The Monthly, guns killed 301,797 people in the US between 2005, and 2015 (and terrorists killed 95), but it wasn’t guns but restrictions on guns that was cited as being the fourth greatest fear in the US.

And the most worrying part of this reaction is that it is not just the province of the unhinged and uninformed individual. Were this the response of an isolated few, it could be safely ignored. But it hasn’t been, and many people are under the same myths and misapprehensions.

Indeed, the campaign against renewables has been led by the federal government, from prime minister Malcolm Turnbull all the way down, and reached new levels of stupidity on the weekend when the Coalition repeated its desire to build a new coal-fired power station in Queensland because, wait for it, the current coal-fired power station was not cheap enough.

More on that below.

According to the correspondent who told us that the gas plant explosions were the fault of renewables, the next best example of the “uselessness” of wind energy is King Island, where he said wind power was only providing one-third of the island’s energy needs, and diesel was providing the rest. “I wonder if the plebs on King Island understand what this infrastructure actually does for them?” he wrote.

Well, they probably do. Until a few years ago, King Island relied just about exclusively on diesel for its power needs. Not only is it dirty, it is horrendously expensive.

So Hydro Tasmania, in a landmark trial, decided to spend $18 million adding wind power, a bit of solar, battery storage and some smart software to see if it can reduce the amount of diesel being burned.

It has been a stunning success. On occasions, the island burns no diesel, and the savings so far on its diesel bill have totalled $30 million in just four years, far more than the original investment. And the wind turbines will be spinning and generating power for no fuel cost for another couple of decades, too.

Such ignorance in the general community might be expected. Anyone who relies on their information from News Ltd, or the One Nation policy platform, might be excused for not getting the whole picture.

But Australians should be entitled to expect more from their resources minister. Matt Canavan, according to media reports, responded to the decision by Rio Tinto’s Boyne Island smelter to cut production and jobs at the facility by repeating his call for a new coal-fired power station in north Queensland.

This idea is beyond stupid. Boyne Island already gets 85 per cent of its power from the nearby Gladstone coal generator at subsidised prices, and its owner, Rio Tinto, also owns 42 per cent of the coal generator!

So why couldn’t Rio Tinto negotiate a contract for the remaining 15 per cent of its power needs from the Gladstone generator it partly owns or any other coal generator at reasonable rates? Probable answer: Because that remaining capacity is critically important to play the market and ensure the high wholesale market prices.

Indeed, the spot wholesale price of electricity has averaged more than $200/MWh in Queensland this year. The state’s future prices for 2018 is around $110-120/MWh. That’s more than the cost of a new solar plant.

So, perhaps it could take a leaf out of another major power user in Queensland, the Sun Metals zinc refinery near Townsville, which has also been struggling to deal with high power prices in the huge coal dependent state.

Sun Metals has taken matters into its own hands. Not only has it led the push for a change in market rules to try dilute the power of the fossil fuel generators, whose dominance of the market allows them to set high prices without censure, it has also decided to build its own solar farm.

That project, now a 116MW facility, will provide not only cheaper power than Sun Metals can source from the coal-fired grid, it will lock in costs for at least 20 years. That will give the company the certainty to upgrade and expand its refining operations. Don’t expect to read about this in mainstream media though.

Canavan, meanwhile, continues to push his crazy idea of adding new coal. “We would not be building a new coal-fired power station because we like looking at smoke stacks on the horizon, but I do find power stations inspiring,” he told The Australian newspaper, before confirming that taxpayer funds could be used for such a project.

As the CEFC chief executive Oliver Yates has made abundantly clear, it would not just require taxpayer subsidies and finance to build a coal-fired power station, but billions of dollars in indemnities and guarantees on the off-chance that an Australian government might one day get serious about climate change and impose a carbon price and/or a meaningful emissions reduction target.

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  1. Rod 3 years ago

    Yes, the headlines should have read “WIND AND SOLAR TO THE RESCUE”
    When I first heard of the TIPS problem, I checked the Live Generation widget and sure enough PV and Wind were meeting about 50% of demand.
    If this “incident” had happened after dark and the wind was down it may have been lights out again. And guess where the blame would have been laid?

    • Paul McArdle 3 years ago

      Rod, it’s more complex than this – I’ve been on email conversation over the weekend with people reviewing 4 second data.

      Not sure how much can be posted later at http://www.WattClarity.com.au but, as always, simplistic headlines like “[INSERT HERE] saves the day” are just that – simplistic.

      • Rod 3 years ago

        In these days of 3 word slogans, headlines have to be simplistic.
        If you say them often enough they must be true!
        I’ll check out your link and would be interested in any further details.

          • Rod 3 years ago

            Thanks for that. Great article.
            So RE didn’t exactly save the day. That (mostly) dirty power coming over the border did. But no doubt, if the wind wasn’t blowing in the Riverland, it would have been lights out.

          • Gary Rowbottom 3 years ago

            Thanks for pointing to good info on that incident. So it would seem to me that part of the way forward is to keep a decent reserve available on the interconnectors, given that suddenly dropping 500 MW or so at any time from existing fossil generators (in SA) could happen anytime, a credible event. I imagine utility scale PV/batteries would also be useful to provide a very quick response to such events (and potentially to reduce the amount of reserve interconnector capacity needed)? Also I think that a network made up of smaller chunks, ie more distributed, adds resilience? A bit like the idea that spawned the internet.

          • neroden 3 years ago

            Distributed utiltity-scale batteries (at every substation) would ride out pretty much ANY fossil fuel generator failure.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          That’s why we need to refute these porky pies with the truth every time. Sure it’s going to spin some heads at the pubs and BBQ’s etc, but just like shit in a centrifuge sticking to the sides, so does the gold!

  2. solarguy 3 years ago

    My god, once again we are subjected to this FF insanity, perpetuated by weak heads who wouldn’t know their arse from their elbow and the miss-informers. How long do you think we will have to suffer this?

    • Tom 3 years ago

      Sorry – What does FF stand for?

      • trackdaze 3 years ago

        Fossil Fuels

        • Miles Harding 3 years ago

          NoNo Noo it’s Fossil fools!

      • MaxG 3 years ago

        F*ckFitts 🙂

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Now can you tell me what BTW means please?

    • nakedChimp 3 years ago

      True, it’s depressing..

  3. Chris A 3 years ago

    Giles. CSEnergy has the dispatch rights for the Gladstone Power Station. It is contractually obligated to provide Boyne with 85% of its power. The rest is treated as CSEnergy portfolio. In the hands of CS it is mostly being used as contingency generation and FCAS and as you say to inflate wholesale prices.

    Building a solar farm might make sense for Sun Metals case. They may be able to operate for 8 hours a day and the price and demand for Zinc may support capital for Solar installation. In the case of Aluminium obviously the business case must support turning off capacity. It’s Apples and Oranges.

    But what does it say when our large Energy Users are looking to divorce themselves from a Queensland market with ample supply where all the capital infrastructure has already been built? That’s madness and a failure of policy.

  4. Pete 3 years ago

    “Renewables, absolute frigging BS,” wrote one correspondent in an email to RenewEconomy within a few hours of the sudden loss of 600MW of gas-fired generation. “What a lot of crap this renewable story is.”

    A lot of the comments of this nature are from fossil fuel shills.

    • Giles 3 years ago

      Yep, including many in the Coalition.

      • Tom 3 years ago

        Hi Giles,

        I’ve been thinking about energy storage lately, because ultimately that’s the key.

        I’m wondering what you think might be the “winner”. Because if you invest a few billion dollars into a “loser”, then you’ve lost a few billion dollars.

        The options as I see them are:

        – Large scale batteries
        – Small scale batteries
        – Pumped hydro
        – Solar thermal storage

        As far as I am aware, with today’s technology, pumped hydro wins.

        However, there are likely to be battery revolutions in the next few years. I think that graphene will likely be a part of this, but who knows? You wouldn’t want to build $20 billion worth of pumped hydro and associated interconnectors when it’s all going to be redundant in 5 years.

        A penny for your thoughts.

        • Ian 3 years ago

          You are so right about stranded assets in this time of rapid energy technology change. What seems like a good investment for the future may prove to be a dud bullet in a few years. What we need is a few guiding principles to skirt this problem.

          1. Don’t spend too much money on something that will take 10 to 20 years to recoup costs.

          2. Chose a technology that is scaleable – start small and add capacity as required.

          3. Use public money not as a tool to purchase equipment directly but for more important secondary goals. ie as a driver of technology adoption, or to establish an industry or to leverage private investment.

          Just like home solar before it, home battery storage fits these principles. This is where public money should be spent.

          A direct subsidy is not necessarily the way to go, although it could be, to get the home battery storage going. The nice thing about a solar type subsidy is that a small public spending can leverage a large private investment.

        • Cooma Doug 3 years ago

          The advantages of pumped hydro are, for some, more than just stored energy when compared to batteries..
          The pumps are generators. They can provide spinning reserve and a major contribution to voltage control of the grid via large Mvar consumption and Mvar generation as required.

          The voltage control problems during transition to renewable are not talked about much. It is a bit technical and obscure to all but a few people. Experiance in voltage control is all in the large generator model we are used to and understand.

          Battery technology will do the job. Battery technology can provide it faster, more variable and cheaper. But its new and will take time to hit. But will be like google maps as it compares to paper maps.

          People who work in major energy management companies, in positions of influence in security and supply, do understand the transition, the options and the answers. They know what is required. They like what they see and they know that coal is the wrong way to go.
          Im thinking that there must be fear of detriment and business money handcuffs and muzzles.

          Well thats not toyally true. I am sure there are these road blocks.

        • Nick Thiwerspoon 3 years ago

          When you manage a share portfolio, you deal with uncertainty, because we just don’t know for certain what will happen. We have some ideas, some possibilities, but we have no certainty. How we deal with that uncertainty is to diversify our holdings. I would suggest we do the same with storage.

          Behind-the-meter small scale batteries for households and businesses — the costs are compared with retail not wholesale prices, so they’re competitive now;

          Plus large scale batteries for grid stabilisation, and soon, as costs decline, for peaking power too;

          Plus concentrated solar power as another form of short term (12 hours plus) storage;

          Plus pumped hydro, good for peaking power up to 4 or 5 hours;

          And also power to gas, to be used for longer periods of backup (2 weeks plus) on those rare occasions when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine for a few days at a time. (I call that seasonal storage. Most developed and large developing countries have several months of storage in their gas grids.)

          • solarguy 3 years ago

            Nick, you seem to have the big picture of storage sorted and that’s been my thinking for some time now. On the gas seasonal storage, that would be sustainably supplied from biogas, which can be increased in calorific value 25% (if needed) by reaction with water at high temperature by solar thermal.

        • Miles Harding 3 years ago

          I’ll get change from my 2 cents’ worth here:

          You watch too much “Master Chef”! The enegy storage and generation puzzle isn’t an elimination contest; Each piece has different properties and advantages in certain situations. We don’t need to pick a winner because the 100% renewable journey also visits 10%, 11%, 12% etc along the way, so there’s plenty of opportunity to correct the path if one of the choices isn’t quite perfect, even the opportuinity to pause, say at 85% while we figure out the last 15% .

          What is important is to commit to the journey and start along the path.

          Many of us have chosen to simply ignore the LNP ‘wall of Bollocks’ and get on with it in whatever capacity we can. Some lobby, some embrace a sutainable lifestyle, some actually build wind and (big) solar farms, contrary to the urging of Morrsion’s precious lump of coal.

          • Tom 3 years ago

            I’m thinking specifically about Tassie – we could potentially build a dam dividing Lake Gordon in two (look at it on Google Earth – it’s pretty obvious where), and by my calculations it could provide 1000MW of pumped hydro for half a day at 30 metres of head, losing 3 metres of head in the process. As the dam is already flooded it would cause minimal environmental damage.

            If we did this we could build a second Basslink, this time with twice the capacity, bringing our total import-export capacity to 1500MW. We would then be able to install approx. 2000MW of PV and 2000MW of wind capacity, producing a long-term average of 300MW and 800MW respectively (ie, doubling our energy production), and even if the sun was shining and the wind was blowing it could almost all be captured in either domestic consumption (1000MW minimum while the sun is shining), pumped hydro (1000MW), or exports (1500MW).

            We could also supply Victoria with 1500MW whenever they needed it for peaking and/or when they are becalmed. Not the entire solution to Victoria’s wind/solar intermittence, but a pretty big piece of it. We could also buy their (cheap) excess power when the Victorian wind is blowing at night and turn off our dams and pump our water uphill.

            We’re probably talking at least $1.5 billion for the second Basslink and $2 billion plus for the dam, pumped hydro, and associated infrastructure.

            However, if in 6 or 8 years time batteries are so cheap that every second house has a 200kWh PowerPack costing $15,000, then Tassie’s interconnectors and pumped hydro setup will become useless stranded assets, as all the other states (and us) will be able to store weeks worth of our own energy cheaply and easily.

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            Yes, pumped hydro is very good at this.

            Even better may be to simply defer using the hydro when the wind is strong or the sun is bright (I’m told this occurs occasionally). This way, the round trip losses and additional equipment to pump the reservoirs would likely not be needed, or may be needed, depending on how much excess energy there is.

            The state is blessed with an enormous killer battery in the form of the hydro reservoirs. This is something that it really very difficult to compete with. Not only does it store months or years of energy, but also it self-charges.

            After the carbon tax, drought and basslink fiasco, I thought how different it could have been if the electricity sales windfall during the carbon tax years had been used to build wind on the west coast. The whole diesel mess would have been avoided and the basslink maye have been running in the opposite direction, able to profit from peak spikes in Victoria.

          • Tom 3 years ago

            “Even better may be to simply defer using the hydro when the wind is strong or the sun is bright”

            Yes and no.

            We absolutely defer using our hydro as much as possible right now when Victorian energy is cheap – we turn off 500MW and import it instead, whereas when the Victorian wholesale price is high we generate 500MW more than we need and we export it. That’s the theory anyway – we don’t always get it right.

            And “yes” – we’ve currently got just under 300MW of installed wind capacity and a little bit of rooftop solar, and when these are functioning we preserve the equivalent amount of water in our dams for generation later.

            The problem is that, although our “batteries” are rechargeable, only the rain can recharge them. If our batteries were full they would store the equivalent of 100 million Tesla Powerwall 2s, but it would take a year without use to charge them from empty to 50% full, and 4 more years without use to charge them the final 50%.

            This limits our ability to generate extra energy to export when the prices are high. Let’s say we had 1000MW of export capacity instead of 500MW – in the first heatwave week we would earn twice as much export money, but then our dams would be emptier and we would not be able to take advantage of a later heatwave week. There is only so much we can “store” while the prices are low, and at the moment when the prices are low we already produce very little energy from hydro.

            Tassie could potentially install another 700MW of wind capacity and maybe 1000MW of PV capacity right now without losing too much energy due to over supply (we would lose about 20% of our wind generation because of the 6-10 weeks that our run-of-the-river dams are overflowing). However, any more than that and we would need another store – either batteries or pumped hydro.

          • neroden 3 years ago

            General estimates are that $50/kwh will be an absolute floor for battery prices for a long time, based on raw materials and transportation costs. If that helps.

            We’re already down to $250/kwh. If that helps.

            It’ll probably be down to $100 or $125 in a few years. If that helps.

            But I think this is the wrong way to think about this. Everyone will have a battery which can unload for 4 hours at top rate, or 8 hours at half rate; basically batteries will be good enough to cover nighttime.

            However, there may be an overall shortage in winter and particular during a week of extreme weather. For seasonal-scale storage, pumped hydro is ideal, and it’s hard to get enough batteries.

          • Michael Gunter 3 years ago

            re pumped hydro for lake Gordon, suggest you ask Andrew Blakers at ANU to check it out.

            As for every 2nd house having a 200kWh battery, that might be a stranded asset w/o hefty and expensive beef-up of distribution networks. A typical pole transformer (HV/LV substation) is 200KVA, and probably services 100 households, which it’s postulated might be hosting 50 x 200kWh or 10MWh of storage. For peaking service you can only feed ~10% of the stored energy upstream, and even then, only if each home was fitted with a 20kW grid-tied inverter. Furthermore try keeping the LV voltage within limits! 253 volts is “legal” upper limit but is a real rip-off way to force feed customers with wasted power in all manner of LV loads, particularly iron-ballasted fluoro/mercury/sodium lighting which should be illegal in 2017.

          • solarguy 3 years ago

            Well said old son couldn’t agree more.

          • Michael Gunter 3 years ago

            #WallOfBollocks should be trending on Twitter! 🙂

        • Joe 3 years ago

          The idea of energy storage is not all that new. Hydro has been doing it for ages. What I don’t understand is why Australia isn’t at the forefront of Wave and Tidal energy. Australia is surrounded by ocean and the waves and the tides are naturally sources of stored energy. The tides ebb an flow everyday like clockwork just waiting for us to do the business.

        • neroden 3 years ago

          Large scale batteries and small scale batteries will both sell like hotcakes.

          Pumped hydro is really slow to build so don’t expect very much of it. Where it already exists or where an existing hydro dam can be converted, it’ll be heavily used.

          • Tom 3 years ago

            Here in Tas, there are some existing dams in which pumped hydro could be installed very quickly – all it would need is the pump and the pipe – the power lines, dams, and water bodies are already there. I would suggest that a pump could be installed with double the power that the generator has – I will explain why later.

            The easiest sites I have identified are Lake Barrington to Lake Cethana (proposed 170MW pump, existing 85MW generator), and Lake Pieman to Lake Rosebury running simultaneously with Lake Rosebury to Lake Mackintosh (both proposed 160MW pumps, both have existing 79MW generators). Another slightly more difficult site would be Lake Liapootah to Tungatinah Lagoon (100MW), which would only work while Tarraleah PS is running (otherwise Liapootah would run out of water). This seems silly, but the issue with Tarraleah is that water flows to it via a 20km long canal from Lake King William, so you can’t just turn it on and off.

            So that’s nearly 600MW of electricity absorption capacity, which would enable Tasmania to increase solar/ wind generation capacity by 600MW without wasting power when the solar/ wind is generating to its maximum.

            The catch is that these pumps would only be functional from November to April. Outside of these times these dams would either be spilling, or would be being fairly fully utilised because it would be highly likely that there would be a wet event in the next month that would cause them to spill again.

            This would make them much more effective at capturing excess photovoltaic capacity than at capturing excess wind capacity. Given that photovoltaics are only maximally effective for a few hours of the day (up to 8 hours in summer), this is why the pumps should be approx. double the capacity of the existing generators.

            Unfortunately it is wind that produces more energy over the course of a year for a given capacity – about 40% compared with 15%. Ie, to produce an average 1000MW of power, you would need 2500MW of installed wind capacity but 6000MW of installed photovoltaic capacity. And it is wind generation that would be wasted in winter-spring when the dams are spilling.

  5. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    A story like this has been described by Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats Leader in the USA. When Trump made up a story about being bugged by Obama, she called it

    “…..a wrap-up smear. You make up something. Then you have the
    press write about it. And then you say, everybody is writing about this
    charge. It’s a tool of an authoritarian.”

    Canavan, Hanson, climate deniers and their ilk have to make up stories like this to get attention. And the media, particularly when the Murdoch press report it, the many uneducated, ignorant and gullible read this rubbish. It is very sad how these people are deliberately misled, exploited and lied to so Murdoch can make money, and the politicians can exercise their power.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Welcome to the real world…
      (It is very sad, I know)

    • Geoff 3 years ago

      That’s the thing. Majority of people read this shyte, agree to it and then vote in the coalition because of it. They’re all in bed together.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Oh yes.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Ah yes , the Murdoch press in Australia. Here in Sydney The Daily Telegraph and The Australian are just a Liberal Party Newsletter in disguise.The Daily Telegraph never prints positive stories about the energy revolution. The Australian is not much better and loves slamming Labor or Greens about renewable energy targets and any more to get serious on pricing acrbon pollution. It is in constant political campaign mode on behalf of the Liberals. Of course their readers just lap it all up !

  6. Radbug 3 years ago

    The entire scene is getting silly. Pauline Hanson has just come against vaccination. Nobody is thinking logically anymore. This, in my opinion, is the outcome of outsourcing. You make the working class unemployed & penurious. And angry. They’re angry because they don’t know enough about the world to form a plan. So they look to demagogues to do their thinking for them. I wrote that globalization relied on the reserve status fiat $US & the political inertia of the dispossessed cincinnati. With The Donald, the dispossessed workers have discovered they are powerful and angry. I predict that the turmoil and chaos brought on by this angry, anarchic mob, will pull down the reserve status of the $US … and then we’ll see who has been swimming naked.

    • Rod 3 years ago

      I think it is also a result of the neglect in Public education in both the US and Australia. Or maybe the inane content on television these days.
      I must admit I am confused about the $US. If they are in so much debt, who owns them? I’d like to recommend bullion but there are dark forces controlling that too.

      • nakedChimp 3 years ago

        who owns them?

        Pension funds, Life insurance funds, anyone who owns US bonds.. the Chinese are trying to get rid of theirs.
        Japanese might have a lot.

        • Rod 3 years ago

          That’s the bit I don’t understand. The Chinese and Japanese are meant to have their own debt problems. Why not just sell or redeem or whatever you do with bonds.
          I know the Chinese (and Russians) were buying a lot of gold but gold is priced in US dollars, for now.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            You can have 100.000 dollars on your account, but at the same time you’re wifes company could have 1 million dollars debt.

            You need to look at who is in debt and who is in credit.
            The reason for why that is, is the way money is being engineered – which in itself is not the problem – just a particular detail which causes trouble in the long run (same as emitting ‘just a little’ CO2 into the atmosphere with every combustion of FFs).

      • neroden 3 years ago

        US government debt isn’t really debt; it’s basically just money. Calling it debt is misleading. If I can print money at will, I can never be in debt.

        US *individuals* are deep in debt. They are owned by large corporations.

    • Farmer Dave 3 years ago

      Great comment, Radbug. I particularly liked your line about people looking to demagogues to do their thinking for them. There is no doubt in my mind that we are heading into turbulent times, and our problems will be made much worse if simplistic – and wrong – theories about the reasons for the problems are believed by lots of people.

  7. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    While I’m not well-read on pop psychology, you get the feeling that “Renewables, absolute frigging BS” would be a pre-prepared and pre-emptive strike against renewable fanciers who would rightly have cross words with the troubled reliability of ageing thermal technologies. They knew RE would get word of the problems at Torrens Island and this would be part of a larger organisation striving to slow down renewable.As for the failure to connect the explosion and fire to any cause of renewable, or even an attribute of renewable, the word ‘projection’ – of real thermal generation problems – come to mind.

  8. onesecond 3 years ago

    Greetings from Germany wich has the second highest electricity supply security in the world right after Denmark that even has more renewable electricity generation than the 34% Germany has.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Show off 🙂

      • onesecond 3 years ago


        • Michael Gunter 3 years ago

          Energiewende rocks! Toll! Prima! Sad about all that lignite burning though…

  9. howardpatr 3 years ago

    Canavan – see the word and just think “stupid”.

  10. Chris 3 years ago

    Why cant SA safely operate as an island? Theyve got plenty of renewables now powering the state, yet the state cant stand on its own feet once an inter-connector goes down or a fault at a major power plant. Yeah righto dont blame the renewables for the outage, youve stated in your examples above it wasnt their fault, but renewables never saved the state from these major outages either. Every other state in AUS with enough baseload generation does not experience the same crap SA has been going through.

    • Giles 3 years ago

      Yes it can, and yes it does. Renewables never save the state? How about last Friday when 600MW of gas generation suddenly disappeared – a greater loss than in september. Wind and solar played critical role, as they did in NSW a week earlier in heat wave when another two gas generators tripped at crucial moment. But as we point out in our new story today, it is the setting on the “synchronous” generation that appears to be the problem.

      • Chris 3 years ago

        It can and does? Every time the state is islanded, thousands loose power due to load shedding, I dont think there’s been a time the loss of the interconnectors havent crippled the state. I do know how wind/solar did help with reducing demand the other week. What’s your solution to SA’s power woes Giles?

        • Giles 3 years ago

          Change market rules to encourage more battery storage, encourage solar towers and storage, require synchronous generators to switch on governors, insist that AEMO reads weather bulletins and takes action when storms approach, sweep a broom through AEMC, change network spending rules to encourage micro-grid options for extended networks as opposed to new poles and wires, re-consider ring fencing exclusions. That’s just off the top of my head, but i am sure there is more.

          • Chris 3 years ago

            Interesting, I agree with most your points there. Curiously, well this question is now slightly off topic. How exactly does a microgrid work for a new estate for example? you’re obviously not going to invest in microgrid infrastructure as well as a mains grid connection (extremely costly for both). So say a new estate is built with 100 lots, 30 street lights and is microgrid based. Where will power for the street lights come from? as well as days where rooftop solar in the estate isnt generating enough needed energy to supply demand

          • Giles 3 years ago

            pretty simple really. for new developments, the cost of grid connection is so overwhelming that battery storage is a no brainer. local solar provides the bulk, supplemented by small gas, becoming biogas over time. western power have outlined plan for existing ones – they have no doubt that micro-grids are cheaper. some will have no connection, some just a thin connection, depending on their circumstance.

          • Chris 3 years ago

            im more referring to new estates in cities such as melbourne. for example 100,000 lots have been proposed between melton and the melbourne outer western fringe. Would it be wise to have small gas generators scattered throughout such a large area.

          • neroden 3 years ago

            Why should a mains grid connection be expensive in a suburb? If it’s basically just to “top off” the estate, it can be a very narrow connection, the size of a single house supply.

            Now, out in the NT, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest city, any mains grid connection is too expensive.

          • solarguy 3 years ago

            Bravo Giles!

          • Michael Gunter 3 years ago


    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Chris, the LNP and their FF industry are behind this capper. It’s all been staged to make RE look bad. What better way to hoodwink the gullible and ill informed public than to stage blackouts. Desperate tactics from desperate people.

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