Renewables replaced more than half Hazelwood capacity

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AEMO data shows some surprising results on the replacement of Hazelwood, and what happened to wholesale electricity prices.

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Renewable energy sources including wind, solar and hydro replaced more than half of the capacity lost through the closure of the Hazelwood brown coal generator, new data shows.

This graph above – courtesy of the Australian Energy Market Operator – shows that, contrary to most expectations and assessments, the brown coal genertion lost through the Hazelwood closure was not replaced by black coal generators elsewhere.

Sure, the output of black coal generators increased – in fact to their highest levels since 2009 – and the remaining brown coal generators also increased their output.

But the majority of the replacement capacity came from a combination of solar, wind and hydro.

The wind and solar plants would have come through new additions to the grid,  with around 400MW of added supply on average.

Hydro also increased by an average 335MW, or 30 per cent.

The share of wind and solar is expected to increase as more wind and solar farms are completed after finally beginning construction following a three-year investment freeze cause by the Coalition’s attack on the renewable energy target.

The investment is also being helped by Victorian government initiatives, and this will be accelerated as the 40 per cent state target by 2025 begins to take shape.

Interestingly, the supply of gas fired generation dropped – by an average 268MW – presumably because of the high cost of gas generation and its inability to compete with other sources.

Another interesting graph is this one above, which shows the changes in energy prices and volatively in different states since the closure of Hazelwood.

It is generally said that the closure of Hazelwood forced Victoria prices up signiciantly, and those in South Australia along with it.

But AEMO has a different perspective. Its results for the first quarter of 2018, compared to the first quarter of 2017, when Hazelwood was still operating, shows that the energy price actually changed little in Victoria, and actually came down in South Australia.

This was probably due to the increase in wind and solar and hydro, and the fact that black coal generators had been reducing their asking price.

What did force headline prices up in Victoria and South Australia was what AEMO calls “weather-driven” volatility – in other words surges to market caps in extreme head days.

This was centred around three days – Jan 18 and 19, when Melbourne temperatures were above 40C for two days and Adelaide was above 43C – and on February 7, another hot day. The January 18 event was worsened by a sudden trip of the Loy Yang brown coal generator.

And so the prices surged to the market cap. That reflects the ability and the willingness of the market to drive prices as high as they can when supply gets tight, and why AEMO wants to encourage more cost-effective solutions to this problem such as demand mangement.

The price spikes in South Australia and Victoria in the first quarter acconted for as much as 30 per cent of the total money spent on wholesale electricity over the first quarter – distorting the market and giving oxygen to the inflated reports about the impact of the Hazelwood closure.

It is also interesting to note on the second graph the impact of the decision by the Queensland government to order – just before its state election – the government owned generators to lower their bidding.

That eradicated volatility i.e. the fossil fuel generators were no longer seeking to maximize profits in maket peaks, and overall prices. So some, that makes another strong argument for more competition, smarter technology, or even government ownership. Or a mix of all three.

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123 Comments
  1. Peter F 5 months ago

    Do I read this correctly that gas and Hazelwood dropped by a combined 1504 MW while other coal increased by only 580 MW?

    • Paul Surguy 5 months ago

      I hope so

    • Rod Hardagain 5 months ago

      Given that the Availability of an entire markets Wind and Solar Generation can be as low as 0% of rated capacity at times and AEMO says “Higher prices in SA, Vic and TAS due to weather-driven volatility.” I think your figures are a bit optimistic.
      Another thing to consider in your calculations is to replace 1MW of coal you need (1MW wind/solar + 1MW gas/hydro) or you reduce your guarantee which increase price volatility which means higher costs to consumers.

      • Peter F 5 months ago

        Rod as it turns out, I did make a mistake it will be about 1.6 GW in 18 months not one year.
        As to backup
        In the old grid to guarantee 1 GW of coal and gas we always had 1.6 GW of coal and gas, because some of it was in the wrong place at the wrong time, some was offline etc. Even a few weeks ago NSW was within 200-300 MW of load shedding and yet there was about 4,500 MW of spare gas and coal capacity across the rest of the NEM not including the 4 GW that was offline due to faults or maintenance in NSW or Victoria
        Similarly with wind and solar you never need 1:1 backup because a renewable system will have 35 GW of wind and 35 GW of solar to provide the necessary annual energy.
        There are times when wind and solar are near zero but at peak demand on summer afternoons wind and solar are never zero. You will need about 29 GW + wind and solar i.e. of the 70 GW of wind and solar we need backup of 29 or 4:10. Of that about 6-7 can come from hydro and by 2020 at least 2 GW from batteries 1 GW from biomass etc 8 GW from gas leaving only 12-14 from coal so we could close roughly half the coal fleet by the end of 2020/21 if we wanted to.

        • CU 5 months ago

          Yes, it is propably in 19Q1 the real impact of new RE will be seen in SA.

        • Ertimus J Waffle 5 months ago

          What a load of rubbish after the sun goes down and the wind isn’t blowing you have no power generation , none, zero, zilch nothing no matter how many wind mills you have suitting doing SFA.. Your ratios are from dream land and can only be applied to base load coal fired power stations where scheduling is used and the known chance of adverse problems can be quantified and taken into consideration and a spinning reserve is kept at hand to cover any problems. When the whole fairy tale system of windmills and cow farts fail you will be building large numbers of expensive HELE plants or you will be living a sub Saharan life style..

          • solarguy 5 months ago

            Why do you spend your time arguing that renewables don’t work on this forum Waffle, when instead you could be jerking off over Jo Enova and a lump of coal. Do you really think that anyone on this forum is going to agree with your twaddle, if you do, then you’re a very sad deluded little piss ant.

            Wind mills are not the same as wind turbines wanker. What’s the difference?

          • Gregory J. OLSEN Esq 4 months ago

            Frankly, I’m enjoying reading all the arguments of EJW and Rick. I have a lot of people asking me questions about RE and climate change and, through this discussion, I have a better understanding of the issues. I don’t like the abuse, though. I think EJW and Rick are quite brave but I disagree with them completely. Note, I have zero qualifications in anything. 🙂

            BTW, I ventured onto a denialists’ Facebook page for a while. The admins were tolerant of me but I was eventually dismissed from the discussion because of my opposing views and hardliners demands to get rid of me. BTW, I was polite in the extreme at all times. 🙂

          • Peter F 5 months ago

            Sorry you can’t do arithmetic ertimus. The ratios I gave you are from various official sites like AEMO and AER, perhaps you should look at them occasionally, but then again they have tables and graphs and bar charts, probably a bit beyond your comprehension

          • Ertimus J Waffle 5 months ago

            Sorry to see people like you who will back a donkey in a horse race. Keep on arguing what ever rubbish you like but even the rest of the world has worked out what a Hoax renewables are but Australian’s being a bit thicker and dumber will realise one day what a con job has been played on them. 14th century energy to run a 21st century society. I noticed that the head of AEMO is a lawyer and all her bum buddies have no electrical qualifications either. I’m sure you would like to fly in a plane piloted by a plumber or have a heart operation conducted at the local garage by a mechanic, What a tool.
            Ontario Ousts Renewables Obsessed Government: Wind Power Subsidies ‘Gone With The Wynne’

          • Peter F 5 months ago

            The rest of the world wow Ontario had a change of government. That’s the rest of the world.
            See the following links to Platts, Fraunhofer, US DOE etc.etc. Some highlights if you can’t read
            . UK 30.1% renewables in first quarter,
            . Germany 41.4% in first half
            . US coal down to 27% in first 4 months and renewable now rival nuclear at approximately 20%
            . India increases its 2022 renewable target to 275 GW
            . EU increases renewable share of all energy target including transport and heating to 32%
            . India’s solar increased 8 fold in 4 years to 22 GW and has . 40 GW of wind and solar either under construction or tendered

            https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/electric-power/062718-germany-launches-670-mw-onshore-wind-power-tender
            https://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/london/frances-engie-edf-advance-renewable-projects-26970113
            https://energy-charts.de/energy_pie_de.htm
            https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/720407/Electricity.pdf
            https://www.businesstoday.in/sectors/energy/india-renewable-energy-target-227-gw-solar-wind-government/story/278594.html
            https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/mer.pdf
            tables 2.6 and 7.2 b in particular
            https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-energy/eu-agrees-32-percent-renewables-target-for-2030-idUSKBN1JA0W5

            I know reading all that will be a strain but you will find it helpful

          • Ralph Buttigieg 4 months ago

            Planes are flown by pilots not aircraft engineers. Horses for courses.

          • Ren Stimpy 4 months ago

            While you back the tortoise (coal) in a horse race? It may have worked before (in fable) but it won’t work in the future. FYI the race is a cost race and mass manufactured – economies of scale – technologies will win. Coal power is a dead end.

          • Ertimus J Waffle 5 months ago

            Please list your qualifications, I will tell you mine. I worked in the Electricity generation industry for thirty years, in transmission and then in base load power station control rooms. I spent the last twenty years in various control rooms as the head controller. I won’t go into my electrical qualifications but i have several electrical engineering qualifications. Now please list your expertise other than parrotting other moronic unproven engineering written by totally unqualified fools on sites like this one.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Ha ha ha – a shiny arse from the control room! “Several electrical engineering qualifications” – now can’t we see that from the tripe served up. A has been making a last gasp at relevance.

          • Chris Drongers 5 months ago

            Well qualified indeed! Explain to me why FCAS from digitally controlled batteries such as the Tesla at Hornsdale is inferior to the masses of spinning steel in a synchronous condensor? There must be some reason as there have been calls to install some in SA even since the installation of Hornsdale. Imagine what your control rooms could do with masses of synthetic inertia, short run battery voltage support, and pumped hydro on call!

          • Peter F 4 months ago

            Chris that is a good question. There is much discussion about how much inertia is really needed in an inverter dominated grid. Most grid wide control systems operate in about 4 second update or even slower, so the grid doesn’t respond to an interruption for 4 seconds or in fact some multiple of 4 seconds. In theory inertia supplies/absorbs energy instantaneously independent of the control system just like a flywheel on an engine smooths vibration and evens out the torque.

            However if the grid control scheme became less hierarchical and more like a peer to peer network, each generator or storage device would control its own frequency linked to some central clock such as the GPS or a national atomic clock. Then, just like a modern engine the flywheel can be much smaller. In my field of machine tools there is an analogous problem and by decentralising control and speeding up control loops machine tool designers have managed to reduce the motor inertia required to maintain stability by a factor of 100 over the last 20 years.

            In my estimation synchronous condensors, (effectively very large flywheels) are probably unnecessary but the grid is a very complex machine and putting all your eggs in one or two baskets such as batteries and synthetic inertia is probably a bit brave so a few synchronous converters scattered about are probably a good part of the armory

          • Chris Drongers 4 months ago

            Thanks PF, I get the concept you describe of increasing control response speed decreasing the quantum of control reaction required, also it seems from your answer that synthetic inertia can replace physical power system inertia. Except that synthetic inertia is dependent on (relatively) new digital, battery and power switching technologies that engineers and regulators who have been using spinning lumps of steel and steam valves to regulate the power grid have not come to completely trust the new technologies not to have a hidden failure point. Fair enough, but as engineers whose major experience is in digitally controlled and electronic power systems, more and more trust will be placed on synthetic inertia and its cousins distributed generation, peer-to-peer power trading, demand management and time sensitive pricing and so on.
            Until the Russians or the Chinese turn off our computers.

          • Greg Hudson 4 months ago

            AFAIK the backup gas generators in SA have not yet been switched on. Total waste of money IMO.

          • Peter F 4 months ago

            You can’t have your cake and eat it. It is said that the blackout cost SA $360 m. $250m to avoid the risk was a good insurance policy. Having said that with new solar and batteries coming on line if I was the SA premier I would sell them to NSW once AGL’s new gas plant comes on line

          • Peter F 5 months ago

            Diploma in Mechanical engineering with additional subjects in EE, further studies towards a Masters in control systems which I abandoned to build an international machine tool company. and a Bachelor in Economics. Fellow of the Institution of Engineers since 1991, 45 years experience in heavy engineering. Five national and international awards for contribution to engineering profession
            Of course here, like any site there are people here who are mistaken or misinformed but none quite so proud of their ignorance as you.
            As for parroting rubbish please list your regular sources of information is it JoeNova, Stop These Things or that fount of all wisdom the Australian, where the writers don’t know the difference between Combined Cycle and Closed Circuit, have never heard of electric arc furnaces and even on economics don’t understand the difference between overnight and project costs, or between short run marginal costs and full life project costs.
            Mine tend to be Platts, IEEE Spectrum, Siemens, GE, AEMO, AER, IEA EIA, Fraunhofer, Power International, Reuters and Bloomberg.
            Are your several EE qualifications up to date? Do you understand that a wind turbine properly configured can contribute 3-8 times as much inertia per MW to the grid than a gas turbine or that inverters on solar farms can provide Grid services even when they are not generating or that a 100MW battery can go from absorbing power to supplying in 300ms thus according to Eire Grid a 10 MW battery provides as much primary grid balance as a 100 MW gas turbine, which will take about 40 seconds after a disturbance to supply an extra 10 MW

          • Crankydaks 5 months ago

            Hey, you da man 😉

          • Chris Fraser 4 months ago

            Trashed him ….

          • Greg Hudson 4 months ago

            The admission that you spent so long in the FF industry makes you an easy target. Instead of wasting your time here, you should donate your time as a scipt writer for Tony Abbott… it would be right up your alley.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Peter – best advice for the Waffler was given by Solarguy. The kid is lost in a room full of adults. No originality, no clues, no hope.

          • Ertimus J Waffle 5 months ago

            So you are another clueless mouth from the south that cannot stand a factual debate.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Except I’m not from the south and would welcome a factual debate. So far your posts are devoid of facts, merely regurgitations of climate denier propaganda, and easily shown to be such. If you are qualified then you clearly are driven by ideology and not analysis.

          • Peter Lyons 4 months ago

            Your semi-illiterate ranting impresses no-one, Ertimus. Ask yourself this, when Earth’s fossil fuels eventually run out – and they will one day, whether it is 100, 250 or 1000 years in the future – what would you use then? You are stuck in the 19th century and your assertions are contradicted by plenty of evidence for the successful deployment of renewables.

        • RobertO 5 months ago

          Hi Peter F, Small Business and Household Solar is increasing and will continue to increasing unless the COALition can find a way to stop it. The network is adding more each year simply due to the costs of electrical energy. I do not believe it will stop unless there is Fed Gov interferency somehow, yes it may slow a little but if general prices drop (but it will need to be about 50% drop). Also is the Fed Gov small Business Deductibility Rules going to do anything but increase Solar.

      • Ertimus J Waffle 5 months ago

        You are right on the money this story is more propaganda put out by renewable fanatics who believe in fairy tales. Just looking at the generation figures for the last week proves it. Hardly any solar and absolutely no wind generation on the east coast or SA.but supposedly that makes no difference compared to a 24 hour 365 day a year guaranteed generation from a coal fired power station.

        • Peter F 5 months ago

          There is hardly any solar because there is less than 800 MW of utility scale solar connected to the grid, about 1/11th of the hydro and 1/14th of the gas capacity. Then again, on a bleak winters afternoon right now I see that within the NEM approximately 5.3 GW of large scale wind and solar are generating 1,620 MW, whereas 11 GW of gas is only supplying 1,490 MW and 8.6 GW of hydro is only supplying 2,360 MW .i.e. the capacity factor of wind + solar right now is 30%, gas 13% and hydro 27%.

        • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

          Why would anyone who wants a “factual debate” use a few single points to try to prove trends and generalisations? Either you are profoundly dishonest, or ignorant or merely wish to promote a particular ideological point of view? Or maybe all of the above?

        • Ralph Buttigieg 4 months ago

          Yep, reliable coal. So reliable they had to close the Tomago smelters last month when something like 4700mw of coal units conked out.

        • Ren Stimpy 4 months ago

          24 hour 365 day a year guaranteed generation from a privatised and hence maintenance-starved old coal-fired power station? Yeh in your mother-henrying dreams! Idiot.

    • Andy Saunders 5 months ago

      You should factor in the increase in rooftop solar also…

      • Peter F 5 months ago

        I figure that rooftop solar offsets population growth but maybe I am pessimistic

        • RobertO 5 months ago

          Hi Peter F, I work with a bunch of CC deniders whom do not think that CC matters. The account has now ordered 76 Kw Solar installed in May this year for a price of $70 k. (About 6 years ago it was 10 Kw system for $55 k, so prices have dropped like a rock). In late April he also ordered 24 Kw (12 Kw times 2) at a price of $17k. If the systems show the returns that the accountant expects then he will add about another 300 Kw with in the next year or so. Small Business and Home Solar will out grow population growth and Demand Management will also outstrip population growth so overall FF face curtailment (retirement of Coal as Gas is much more flexible).

          • Peter F 4 months ago

            people like you make me think I am a pessimist

    • RobertO 5 months ago

      Hi Peter F, If our pollies decided to support RE coal could easily be gone in seven years. Storage is our key and while I think that Snowy2 is not the best idea (I am a fence sitter 45% for and 55% against) we need more PHES. Lots of gas will not retire but it’s usage will drop to cover the days when wind and sun can not cope with demand and we have used all the storage available.
      Lots of the Anti RE idiots think that we only have one for one in coal or gas.
      SA has some (about) 2800 MW (nameplate) gas for an average yearly name plate requirement of 1900 MW (my numbers may be out, but it’s the averages over the whole year). Also in the last 2 years in SA about 500 MW nameplate gas has retired.
      Gas will be our main backup emergency supply, hardly ever used, and even then the gas may be man made by RE (both CH4 and H2) using what would have been curtailed RE.

      • Peter F 4 months ago

        Robert you are right about the time line but probably 4 coal plants might last a bit longer as they are very cheap to run with captive mines and low cost mining. As far as I can tell SA will still have 3,200 MW of gas/diesel after retirements and when AGL’s new plant comes on line. As you have three CC plants there and there are none in NSW or Victoria they will prop up the system more efficiently than OC gas in winter and more flexibly than coal in fluctuating demand.
        However I believe there will be a lot less pumped hydro than most people do. I think batteries near the load are quicker to build and offer resilience, speed of response and efficiency that pumped hydro can’t match even though the cost per MWh is lower.
        By my calculations Snowy II is a dog little plants like Kidston and the SA proposals are much better. I
        I think you are probably right about renewable gas

  2. AndrewATA 5 months ago

    Are these AEMO charts published?

  3. Rick 5 months ago

    But AEMO has a different perspective. Its results for the first quarter of 2018, compared to the first quarter of 2017, when Hazelwood was still operating, shows that the energy price actually changed little in Victoria, and actually came down in South Australia.

    To be clear on what AEMO shows – The average Victorian wholesale price in Q1 2017 was $79/MWh. The average price in Q1 2018 was $102/MWh. That equates to a 30% increase due to the closure of Hazelwood. I do not consider a 30% increase over one year “little”.

    • Rod 5 months ago

      “Mainly due to weather driven volatility” They even put it in bold for you.
      Absolutely nothing to do with what makes the electrons. Unless of course you count the volatility caused by coal burner trips.

      • Rick 5 months ago

        The prices went up by 30% in line with expectations following the closure of Hazelwood. Blaming weather for volatility is simple minded. The weather was no different in 2018 to 2017. Even the AEMO chart showing average temperatures are identical for the two years.

        This is what creates price volatility:
        https://1drv.ms/u/s!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNgwaWgsMEeRv-O0ho
        Ambient energy generation run-whenever-or-not.

        • Rod 5 months ago

          You really should try reading the article. Just for a change. It points out three, that’s three, days that influenced the average prices.
          And what is “ambient energy”? Did you make that up?

          • Rick 5 months ago

            Just three days when the wind did not blow and Hazelwood’s 1200MW of dispatchable power was not there!!! Prices hit high orbit exactly as predicted.

            This gives the meaning of ambient:
            https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ambient
            It more accurately describes sources of energy like wind and solar. It is common usage in Germany as they come to realise their wind generators will not be renewed and are, in fact, unrenewable without subsidies.
            https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/heute/auslaufendes-eeg-gefahr-fuer-windkraftanlagen-100.html

          • Rod 5 months ago

            I know what ambient means.

            What I can not find is any reference to your fantasy combination with the word energy.
            Now, you do understand the word “volatility”? 3 days of volatility. I wonder how Hazelwood would have coped with those 3 days. Given the 57 trips of unreliable fossil burners over Summer, I’d say not very well.

          • Rick 5 months ago

            Ambient energy is common terminology in Germany as they lead the world in this form of energy collection and have realised it is unrenewable so avoid the common misnomer “renewable”. Here is a link to one example and I have provided the direct translation:
            https://www.deutscherarbeitgeberverband.de/energiefrage/2018/2018_05_19_dav_aktuelles_energiefrage_54_energiepolitischer_realismus_bei_branchenvertretern.html

            Twenty years ago, the “Energiewende” was declared a state goal. Initially, this meant that we would be independent of chemical energy sources for the long term, which today provide nine-tenths of the energy requirement. When it came to the implementation, but was set very one-sided to a few goals. In addition to the phasing out of the use of nuclear energy, the expansion of ambient energy was pursued above all. Consequently, a system of fixed purchase prices for electricity from biomass, hydropower, wind and sun was used to massively advance the expansion of corresponding power plants. Only now, after the construction of more than 100 gigawatts of power plant capacity in the area of ambient energies, the realization begins to prevail that the expansion of the ambient energy is not closer to the purpose of overcoming the chemical energy sources.

            Fundamentally the Germans have literally spent hundreds of billions EUR for no benefit and the realisation is sinking in.

            Your speculation on how Hazelwood would have coped is just, well, speculation. 57 trips of dispatchable plant over summer is insignificant compared with the wildly fluctuation generation from wind:
            http://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2018/jan
            Swings of well over 1000MW in a matter of hours on almost a daily basis. That is the essence of volatility and AEMO readily admits unpredictable; at least by them. The air-conditioning demand is far more predictable.

          • Shilo 5 months ago

            Rick, Germany has given Australia a guide to how to make it right, don’t you know that?.
            Meaning Australia are going to not make the same mistakes and we are so much better at being as precise as they are. Its all going to be easy.

          • Rick 5 months ago

            Actually mainland Australia does have a natural advantage from the perspective of solar energy. SA has managed to make their grid electricity so expensive that the low cost option for domestic use there is solar plus battery.

            Wind is incredibly unpredictable and fickle compared with solar. Two charts just for this month show the issues that can never be addressed economically. This is for the 5222MW of wind across Australia for June 2018:
            https://1drv.ms/u/s!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNgwaWgsMEeRv-O0ho
            This one is for SA June 2018:
            https://1drv.ms/u/s!Aq1iAj8Yo7jNgwiVrN07whX1KopI
            The SA one has a lower scale and the impact of curtailment is noticeable with the clipping at 1300MW.

            Despite the geographic diversity, the patterns are almost identical. Both have over a week when output is well above 50% and both have 10 days or so when output is below 10%. The average contribution over the month from the 5222MW installed is about 1500MW giving CF of 28% – not bad even considering the SA curtailment due to lack of demand. However to level the contribution requires storing 2000MW for 9 days or 432GWh; equivalent to 3,600 HPRs. And that is to serve a puny 1500MW – less than 6% of the average NEM demand.

            The lesson here is that ambient energy supplying the grid for home use can never be competitive with home made electricity supplying the home.

          • Shilo 5 months ago

            Yes home Solar is a very good thing, I think anyone that can put it on their roof should. It really is worth it

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Rick it’s as well if making generalisations to stick with what is generally true! SA has had expensive electricity for decades, since it is quite isolated, has no good coal reserves close to load and a fairly extreme climate. Until wind became efficient and cost effective to harvest, and the massive fall in cost in solar, it struggled. The connection to Vic only ever supplied a fraction of its energy needs. It is gradually overcoming that with a combination of rooftop and grid solar, and when pumped hydro is added will have cheap clean reliable energy. If it also electrifies its transport it wont be dependent on imports of that fuel for that either. So its energy will also be secure.

            Wind is highly variable, which is why it is a good match with conventional hydro, and why Snowy Hydro has a big EOI out to buy a lot of it, and will most likely buy even more in future. For the moment, the quantity in SA will periodically provide very cheap energy to SA with some to export, but if won’t be the mainstay. SA residents have a great opportunity to provide themselves with very cheap energy costs, but not with batteries necessarily (they could assist at the fringes) but by using thermal storage. A very significant component of SA’s variability in demand is weather driven – in winter on wet windy days (where wind is valuable), in summer with very hot clear days (great for solar). With adequate insulation, and water as a thermal storage combined with reverse cycle heat pumps, the average home there would use very little grid power.

            Using “ambient energy” when you mean variable renewable energy is deliberately obtuse, and does you no favours, sounding ignorant of basic physics. Ambient energy is that all around us that is used by heat pumps and other devices able to recover it. It has no bearing on more concentrated and non-ambient forms such as direct solar insolation and prevailing wind.

          • Rick 5 months ago

            The wholesale price of electricity in SA is now 3X what it was 10 years ago. All to do with extracting energy from ambient sources while displacing low cost coal.

            From an energy perspective SA is blessed; having the second largest uranium mine in the world. The State could power the whole of Australia from the uranium it mines and ships offshore.

            Ambient energy is an accurate descriptor of energy collected from wind and solar. Wind and solar generators, in themselves, are unrenewable. They and their buffer simply cannot produce enough dispatchable energy over their life to enable replication. They are only possible to manufacture economically using energy from fossil fuel. It is a one go wonder as Germany is finding out.

            Your idea of thermal storage is fanciful – the costs of heat storage are horrendous. Also I am yet to see consistently good reviews on any water heater using a heat pumps.

          • RobertO 5 months ago

            Hi Rick, Your such an idiot. Storage of energy has been used in many places worldwide for years. All of the different types face hurdles from costs to capacity and often the engineering solution that should be applied get lost due to the political or accounting drivers. PHES in Australia is slowly coming to the fore, but even now Wivenhoe PHES is controlled by FF so it is not used either the way it should be or could be used. Lots of places use storage such as the Octagon Building in the centre of Parramatta. Their air conditioning system is based on cold ice tanks. As for the idea that Manufacturing must have FF is stupid thinking. Manufacturer can not tell where the electron came.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Rick your highly biases selectivity is showing again! You know as well as I do that a range of things have happened in SA that have pushed prices up – falling coal quality out of Leigh Ck, export parity of gas (probably the biggest influence), privatisation of the network, falling proportion of industrial v domestic and commercial demand etc. Nuclear in SA would push prices up even more and would be particularly ill-suited to the variability in demand. Your persistence with inaccurate and baseless statements seems almost certainly due to a more fundamental belief construct than honest evaluation of the data.

            Likewise in your application of the word “ambient” – the formal or parochial definition just doesn’t fit the concept. There is nothing “ambient” about solar or wind in terms of either the devices used to collect it, its prevalence or the fundamental science that describes it. In fact the collection only works because of its vector nature. So stop being stupidly intransigent in trying to make a political point. Likewise in repeating the untrue statements about replicability. It’s a trivial exercise to show them untrue.

            My thoughts on thermal storage have been built: Google James Cook University thermal storage system. Domestic ice storage systems are now on the market and no doubt will become more popular as more people with excess solar realise their value. In slab systems are adequate for well insulated houses in cooler climates. Your statement about costs are simply inaccurate.

          • Peter F 4 months ago

            Perhaps you might consider that since 10 years ago the price of gas which supplied the majority of SA power has at least quadrupled. The utilities in all states have also refined their price maximising behaviour. In fact Wholesale prices in SA 2007/2009 were 26% higher than NSW. In the last 3 years they are 27% higher. In the last 3 months they were 20% higher, including almost a month where their most economical gas plant was out of action

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Yes it seems selective sceptics of science have come up with the term ambient energy to go with their belief that production of energy is a magical process not requiring engineering or management.

            Rick in case you may not have realised, wind is part of the weather, and your graph merely illustrates how volatile weather driven generation including wind, cloud cover and temperature are in driving supply and consumption. Volatile and unpredictable are not synonyms: AEMO has a well established reputation for predicting wind with good accuracy 3 days prior and a high degree of accuracy 24 hours prior. What your assertions also illustrate is how cheap a surplus of VRE makes wholesale energy – something FF can’t match.

            As for the crap about renewable energy not being renewable – this merely illustrates a lack of understanding of English quite apart from the science: the renewable refers to the energy (usually the case with adjective-noun pairs), not the machinery producing it. Even a steam station is “renewable” in that it can be rebuilt, and even tho’ the maintenance effort is very large in comparison to VRE.

            As to the relevance of Germany VRE experience – put it this way: we went to them for lignite experience because they had analogous resource to us. In VRE, except for biomass their experience is irrelevant, because VRE is climate driven, and you could scarcely find two countries with such different climates as Germany and mainland Australia.

          • Shilo 5 months ago

            I have been a avid boater for more than 40 years, I wish AEMO was around then for the last 40 years, because the BOM and all weather sites have been simply so variable with wind forcasts, its shocking.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Shilo – BOM have been using supercomputers and satellites for at least the past 30y, and they are probably more accurate in predicting the weather than you are in predicting your day ahead. That’s not to say that sometimes local systems don’t develop or move faster or slower than predicted, altho new predictions are based on 1.5km grids so are very accurate, more so wind (fairly 2D), less so rainfall (more 3D).

          • Shilo 5 months ago

            Really, I also happen to be a commercial helicopter pilot, and have done a reasonable amount of study into the subject of meteorology. My whole life has been the subject of weather.
            I find the forecasts to be so broad and mostly poor in accuracy, even covering large broad ranges.
            I think the BOM struggles with a bureaucracy that is simply to large.
            This being my own personal experience and my view. That is all.
            I understand they use a lot of tech and a lot of money.
            I personally use sites from other countries as I find them a fair amount more accurate.
            Such as WXMAPS.
            Anyway as said it is simply my opinion.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Shilo – you are entitled to your opinion, and no doubt that as a pilot you would very much remember when the local weather turned against you, forgetting the 99% of the time when you flew without incident. Anecdotal evidence is like that – I’m just reflecting on the assessed accuracy of particularly wind forecasts for wind farms, which was the subject in hand.

          • Shilo 5 months ago

            Yes I agree with you, it could simply be that I am not being anywhere near accurate in my assessment, due to a few bad experiences and am biased.

          • Tony Wilson 4 months ago

            Shilo, you are comparing two completely different things. When you fly your helicopter, you need accurate wind data for one particular place. When you forecast wind generation, any one place simply does not matter, there are hundreds of turbines spread all across the continent, and the only number we care about is the total. That is a vastly different matter.

          • Shilo 4 months ago

            Hi Tony, No I was simply commenting on my view on the BOM. Now what you are talking about is that the weather forecast is of nothing if you have the right amount of Wind solar hydro and batts. I fully agree with you.

          • Rick 5 months ago

            I am proudly a skeptic in all areas. I am a great supporter of ambient energy collection but am acutely aware of its limitations. If the price of batteries were 30% of their current price and guaranteed 20 year life I would have the whole house off grid tomorrow.

            I also have a reasonable grip on field theory and Maxwell’s equations and know what the IPCC dish up is simply a fairy tale. Their story that they keep repeating on back radiation is utter tripe. If you have any knowledge on the application of Maxwell’s equations to EMR then have a read of this paper:
            https://www.osapublishing.org/DirectPDFAccess/2ABD8797-9923-11B4-9046D9DF91F8B7CB_205485/oe-18-19-19770.pdf?da=1&id=205485&seq=0&mobile=no
            If the maths in the paper is difficult for you then this video might be easier:

            Note that the author is a NASA GISS scientist. I particularly like his accurate description of climate models in the question time towards the end of the video.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Rick unfortunately the first link is broken, but I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture by Michael M so thanks for that. But I think you selectivity in being sceptical shows thru in what your drew from it: he is not saying, as you are, that the climate models are crap. He is simply pointing out that if you create a phenomenological model, be very careful in accepting its predictions if a) you have accounted for complexity by “tuning” in an ad hoc manner without understanding the fundamentals and b) at the moment our understanding of how aerosols interact with EMR is so limited that we ought to be spending serious money on fundamental research before simply gathering more empirical data. I would agree – to me what the models do is analogous to what AI and vision systems in self driving cars are doing: they do a great job in saying what is there, but fall well short in predicting what to do outside a limited envelope because the envelope of applicability has not been defined by fundamental science ie an analytical understanding of the mechanism of creating a complex view of the car’s orientation to moving and fixed objects in time and space. Our brains do an adequate job most of the time on that because of the massive parallelism in processing, not readily picked apart. Our climate models can be tuned to be relatively competent in reflecting the behaviour of the earth, but fundamental physics has only been applied rigorously to mass and energy flows: the weakness is in radiative energy transfers in the atmosphere. Which leads to a dilemma similar to that faced by self driving cars: do we keep on based on models we know are weak, or do we pull back and do some more fundamental research. I think the answer in both cases is the same: pull back and do more research. And for climate change, that means stop adding more and more elements to the atmosphere that feed into a vicious feedback loop: CO2 leading to trapping of heat, leading to rising temperatures, leading to increased concentrations of other GHG like methane and water vapour, leading to more trapped heat etc. Like the generation of plastic rubbish, which so saddens me as a keen diver and bushwalker, we humans need to clean up our act and learn how to enjoy more with less, and no crap in our nest.

          • Rick 4 months ago

            The point I make is that what the IPCC publish is based on a fairy tale about back radiation:
            https://www.ipcc.ch/report/graphics/images/Assessment%20Reports/AR5%20-%20WG1/Chapter%2002/Fig2-11.jpg
            They have 342W/sq.m shown for something that does not exist. It demonstrates the utter incompetence and lack of understanding.

            It appears you believe in all the nonsense that the IPCC put out “heat trapping CO2” and “viscous feedback loops” as well – just part of the same fairy tale.

            With regard to conservation of resources, that is where I fail to see any sense in grid connected ambient generation. It comes at a high waste of resources that can never be recovered. With a 3-fold reduction in battery price and a 3-fold increase in battery life it would make sense to have ambient energy collection and storage at the load and save the expense/resources of transmission but those improvements appear to be a long way off.

            For grid power generation, the sensible approach for Australia would be to value add to the uranium the country mines.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Rick you may believe in fairies and hence their tales, but I prefer to go with majority views on the science. Your views represent a minority view coloured by non-scientific interests. I have no problem in believing in the heat trapping capabilities, both at the lab level of IR being absorbed strongly by CO2 and water vapour, and by observation (greenhouses, difference between clear sky and overcast re-radiation at night). As for positive feedback denial, well that just brands you an ideologue with a heap of baggage putting you in that camp. Again, not surprising your further reference to fairies!

            Your ongoing misuse of the term “ambient” seems only to cement it, especially with your fatuous statements about resource use. Just factually garbage – a pity we can’t use it to power something useful.

            As for nuclear, well, Hinkley Point C. Say no more.

          • Rick 4 months ago

            For any feedback to occur it would require atmospheric water vapour to increase with corresponding increase in precipitation. All the CIMP5 climate models show increasing precipitation:
            http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/icmip5_pr_Amon_modmean_rcp85_0-360E_-90-90N_n_+++_1950:2020_a.png

            Reality is completely different with no trend:
            http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/icru4_pre_25_0-360E_-90-90N_n_1950:2020_a.png

            The climate models have zero value. They have no relevance to the real world. They are not based on analytical physics. They are essentially polynomial equations tuned to the past in the hope that the resulting projections will have some relationship with the real world – they rely on a heavy dose of hopium.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Rick – wrong again. Look at your psychrometric chart – as temperature rises, moisture content rises and blockage of IR increases. Increased precipitation will then only occur if something triggers it to condense. Taking one averaging time series from KNMI across the whole earth doesn’t prove anything – it’s the shifts and extreme days that are the difference, and I can tell you as a hydro engineer that we are having to design for them.

            Anyone who claims that models, whether phenomenological or analytical have zero value is merely ignorant of doing science. That there is not sufficient analytical understanding of radiant energy transfers through absorbing media to build an analytical model is obvious, and places limits on the accuracy of predictions. But such stochastic models are used all the time in applying the precautionary principle in many situations, including every time you take a flight. I don’t think you take a parachute each time!

            Meanwhile, we get on and build the sustainable, clean, reliable, predictable, low cost energy systems of the future. That you choose to scowl about change is irrelevant.

          • Rick 4 months ago

            it’s the shifts and extreme days that are the difference, and I can tell you as a hydro engineer that we are having to design for them

            Absolutely no proof that there are greater extremes. Another fairy tale for the gullible.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Yes Rick foolish gullible engineers making sure their designs conform to “good industry practice”, rather than put the population at risk.

          • Rick 4 months ago

            What risk – it is fanciful. Where is the evidence? Projections are all based on climate models, which is not evidence and you agree are wrong!

            All you are doing is adding cost for a non-problem. Absolute waste of resources that could be better directed to higher value items.

            Engineers should not be foolish and gullible – they should be looking at the evidence and seek understanding.

            Those struggling in Australia are hardest hit by the ever escalating cost of energy due to incompetent efforts to lower the no-risk of added CO2 in the atmosphere:
            https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&biw=1389&bih=757&tbm=nws&ei=edo6W6CzKILs8wXe76I4&q=disconnections+due+to+energy+cost+stress&oq=disconnections+due+to+energy+cost+stress&gs_l=psy-ab.3…21092.27666.0.28090.25.25.0.0.0.0.300.3898.0j16j3j1.20.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..5.0.0….0.qqw0oabxLks

            The Climate Change religion is inflicting enormous suffering on the disadvantaged across the globe.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Rick – are you willing to go in front of the judge and accept the consequences of calling all your more learned peers liars and charlatans? Why should I accept your fallacious prescriptions simply because you, in isolation, think they’re true? Oh and I’m sure you carry the burden of the poor, offering them nukes: that should send their kids to school!

            Why not instead come clean on your full suite of beliefs that put you it such a position? I can tell you from my own involvement in such debates that climate change denial comes as a package, complete with a range of superstitions, political stances and conspiracy theories – do you have any arguments of substance or is that pretty much you?

          • Rick 4 months ago

            I will go anywhere in front of any individual or group to put knowledge and science ahead of some faddish belief in CO2 causing Catastrophic Climate Change. I would be in very good company.

            You have not provided an ounce of evidence to support your unscientific tripe. You are a believer in the output of climate models that are quite clearly unscientific and produce nothing of value. Climate models fail every test of their predictions against measured data.

            Anyone with curiosity and the ability to digest and analyse information soon realises that climate models are nothing more than computer games unrelated to reality.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Fact: probable maximum flood estimates for hydro design are being revised up to deal with observed changes in maximum precipitation that trend closely with climate change models and are poorly correlated with other causes.

            Fact: climate models have consistently underestimated the rate of change and correlation with observed rises in average ocean temperatures, climate CO2 and many other parameters.

            Your flimsy outlier attempts to justify your position are irrelevant to the real world, where grown ups are realising a change is not only necessary but underway. Meanwhile, keep braying at the moon or chatting to the fairies you keep talking about, if that makes you feel less irrelevant.

          • Rick 4 months ago

            Just words with the word “fact” in front of it. Show me the data!

            There is no upward trend in precipitation. In fact the real data shows the total atmospheric precipitable water has declined this century. 2,26cm in Dec 2002 to 2.15cm in Dec 2017. Do your own analysis if you do not believe me:
            https://neo.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/view.php?datasetId=MYDAL2_M_SKY_WV

            The top 2000m of the oceans have warmed a whopping 0.114C since 1955. Now there is a scary number. The bottom 3000m have not changed in temperature.
            https://data.nodc.noaa.gov/woa/DATA_ANALYSIS/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/DATA/basin/3month_mt/T-dC-w0-2000m1-3.dat

            Start looking at the actual data rather than the scary headlines from other true believers.

          • RobertO 4 months ago

            Hi Rick, Your still an idiot.
            “The top 2000m of the oceans have warmed a whopping 0.114C since 1955. Now there a scary number.”

            How many people live in that 2000m

            “The bottom 3000m have not changed in temperature.”
            Very correct line and when will it change possibly never that humans will see. Again how many people live there?

            Climate Change is about the atmosphere and yes some of the effects that the atmosphere can induce in the top 30m sea relating to temperature.

            So what warms first? Will it be the sea? Not a hope!
            What about the glaciers, They all retreated over the 70 years. I visited Franz Josef Glacier in 1960. The local council had just completed a new road turnaround and installed a new footpath about 6 feet wide. I remember hanging onto the new railing and able to just touch a block of ice that had fallen off the end of the glasier. The glacier has retreated some 3 km from the road.

            So how much heat does it take just to melt the ice. How much heat does it take to raise the temperature of the ice to melting point and then how much heat to raise the water up to the sea level temperature.

            So do all the ice in the world that has retreated in the last 70 years and that just one of the factor in a Climate Change program

          • Rick 4 months ago

            I have given an alternative link to Michael Mishcenko’s paper:
            https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c03b/2b493f57e13d3c3e2b58d17c9656d2dee978.pdf
            If the maths is beyond you just go to section 7 where he makes it very clear that radiation cannot occur simultaneously in all directions. This is a fundamental flaw in climate models.

            I previously provided a link to the so-called energy budget diagram in IPCC AR5 where they show 342W/sq.m of “back radiation”. This is an unphysical fairy tale. Anyone who believes this tripe needs to a buy a clue – for obvious reasons.

            Just to show how into the fairy tale they are this is the same diagram from AR4:
            https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/fig/faq-1-1-figure-1.jpeg
            Note that from AR4 to AR5 they found another 18W/sq.m of something that cannot exist going from 324W/sq.m to 342W/sq.m!!! It is all tripe. I cannot believe anyone with an ounce of engineering knowledge cannot see it for what it is – garbage.

            The reason I started looking into this aspect was that back radiation requires heat transfer from a cold atmospheric source to hotter surface in complete contradiction of the second law of thermodynamics. That lead to looking at solutions for Maxwell e-m field equations and I found Mishcencko had done that in the exact area I was interested in. Fundamental analytic science trumps wet finger polynomials and approximations every time.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Rick you are confusing net with instantaneous. If a cloud was a radio antennae, you would have no issue with it radiating in all directions, so I don’t get why suddenly because the radiation is in the IR or visible ranges the radiating body would change its behaviour. The clouds are doing no more than a radiation screen such as Al foil in your roof: it intercepts outgoing radiation and reradiates back to the ceiling at the same time as radiating outwards thru the roof, but in doing so effectively halves the radiation out thru the roof. The same thing happens in your microwave. You’re creating a strawman then knocking it down because you have misunderstood basic science.

          • Rick 4 months ago

            You clearly do not understand field theory. If I placed two high energy radio antennas of equal radiating power in proximity with each other there is no energy transfer between them. In fact their combination alter the energy field quite dramatically.

            Try to understand how a phased antenna array works:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phased_array

            Light is just EMR. Maxwell’s equations apply to light in the same way as they apply to lower frequency radio waves.

            There can only be one Poynting vector at any point in space and time. That means at that point in space at that instant energy flow is unidirectional. Read the Minshcenko paper!

            Look at how a solar flare can influence radio communications on earth. The strong field associated with flares swamp the puny field produced by typical communication devices.

            Having low temperature clouds warming the hotter earth surface is akin to saying that the Earth warms the sun – cannot happen because the radiating power of the sun is greater than that of earth just the same as Earth’s surface has higher radiating power than the clouds. Earths presence certainly alters the electro-magnetic field of the sun than it would otherwise be without the presence of the Earth but there is no energy flow from Earth to sun. This is similar to the way the gravity field of the Earth and sun is different to what the field would be if there was no Earth. Electro-magnetic fields “communicate” at the speed of light through space just as gravity does.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            You are confusing static fields, propagating waves and interference of waves. The interference pattern observed with antennae arrays, water waves, sound waves or any other propagating wave is a net resolution, just as Poynting Vectors are: they say nothing about what is happening in terms of energy exchanges or motions within the waves – they are a picture of the resultant observed at the macro level. Your statements are like saying that because electrons exert a stationary field they must be stationary, or that Brownian motion couldn’t exist because air molecules are producing standing waves – all nonsense. Strong flares do what they do because of the high energy particles or particle like pulses of energy induce enormous fields which interact with stationary fields around the earth. The fields around the earth are not producing propagating waves. Radiating bodies are emitting propagating waves – that’s why they are so called. That the net heat exchange will be zero says nothing about what each body is doing.

          • Rick 4 months ago

            Mike Westerman states:

            The fields around the earth are not producing propagating waves. Radiating bodies are emitting propagating waves – that’s why they are so called.

            The whole basis of the so-called”greenhouse gas theory” is that the Earth propagates electro-magnetic radiation and the “greenhouse” gasses trap it – you clearly are not reading from the right song book.

            Your use of the plural when referring to an e-m field or THE Poynting vector again shows you have no understanding of electro-magnetic radiation. There is only one magnetic and electric field at any point in space and time. They are normal to each other and the energy flow at that point in space and time is, in turn, normal to both the electric and magnetic fields. Just like there is only one pressure in the ocean at any particular location at any particular time. You need to get a grip on field theory!

          • Rick 5 months ago

            I am not sure what you consider accurate but the 24 hour ahead wind forecast has an error as high as 8%. That means an additional 400MW of dispatchable generation has to be organised on a daily basis. The week ahead forecast can be out by as much as 20% or 1000MW. Again a significant amount of dispatchable generation has to be organised a week ahead to allow for that contingency.

          • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

            Rick – we operate a system where we still have a large number of very large machines, such that the reserve to protect against a unit trip means the additional contingency plans for wind are a decimal point. The variability of wind merely becomes a source of income for such as the Snowy – if the wind is there they save water for another day, if it is not then they make some money. On average it makes little difference to the price of power dispatched, compared to the dominance of other price signals.

          • Peter F 4 months ago

            There is 10,000 MW of gas and 8,700 MW of hydro on the grid and within 18 months 600 MW of batteries in front of the meter finding +/-400 MW is not an issue. Further installation of high CF wind turbines and greater geographical dispersion will reduce the error
            The error in load forecasting is often much greater than 400 MW even in SA so even in an all gas or coal system with 100% reliability new demand requests are made every 5 minutes

          • Peter F 5 months ago

            Rick. Germany has reached 41.5% renewables this year and it may well increase by years end as it is still building wind and solar plants, having added 1.5 GW of wind and 800 MW of solar in the first 5 months. The rate of installation of private solar is climbing again and as new wind turbines are producing typically 3-4 times the annual energy of old ones, generation is rising faster than capacity. For example in 2013 Germany had an average of 32 GW of wind which produced 52 TWh or 1.6 GWh/MW this year 56.5 GW of wind power has produced 55 TWh in 6 months or 1.9 TWh/GW. The incremental 24.5 GW has produced an annualised 58 TWh or 2.4 GWh per MW.
            In the 12 months to the end of June Germany has produced 117 TWh from renewables and 122 TWh from coal and gas.
            In the last 6 months wind has produced 55 TWh and black coal and gas combined 56 TWh. Even Solar has produced more electricity than gas (22 TWh to 19.6).
            As wind and solar are still growing and offshore wind in particular is highly productive, by 2020 wind and solar alone will be producing about 215 TWh and coal about 190 and all renewables about 260 TWh coal and gas combined about 210 TWh.
            As for swings of over a 1,000 MW in a matter of hours from wind, you are right they definitely occur as do 1,500 MW in two minutes from coal plants on the 5th and 7th of June this year, which one do you think is harder to manage.

          • Rick 5 months ago

            All at incredibly high cost because all coal, gas and nuclear plants are still required to buffer the wind and solar. So the only saving is a negligible reduction in fossil fuel because all the plants need to stay hot to follow the ups and down of ambient sources.

            Germany also relies on neighbouring countries to act as their battery to take excess generation and supply shortfalls in generation. South Australia also enjoys that huge benefit with its 600MW link to Victoria that has cost Victorians an extra 30% increase in wholesale power price and now they want a higher capacity link into NSW so they can do the same to the NSW wholesale price. However Australia cannot use other countries to buffer the output from ambients.

            Your figure from ambient sources includes hydro and biomass as well. For 2017 wind and solar achieved 21% market share in Germany.

            The incredibly high cost of all the ambient generators installed in Germany over the last 10 years has achieved ZERO carbon reduction:
            https://www.cleanenergywire.org/sites/default/files/styles/lightbox_image/public/images/article/2017/11/20170320-uba-greenhousegasemissions1990-2016-first-estimate-and-environment-ministry-forecast.png?itok=JmERly3L
            It is crazy to keep doing the same thing over and over in an effort to achieve a result, which clearly does not get any closer to achieving that result.

          • Peter F 5 months ago

            Your charts show emissions from the power sector falling from 427 to 332 MT while economic output rose from $1.4 trillion to $3.5 t in constant dollars. At the same time Germany went from a net power importer to now being a net exporter of at least 10% of its generation or the equivalent of 25% of its coal generation. i.e. if Germany returned to net zero power exports emissions from the power sector would have fallen to about 250 MT so the CO2 intensity of the German internal electricity sector has fallen from 305 MT/$t to 73. Pretty good effort.

            Further, in 2016 the last year of your chart coal generation was about 235 TWh and gas 46. This year it has fallen to less than an annualised 205 and 40 so at least another 10-12% emission reduction in spite of continued economic growth and closure of 2.2 GW of nuclear.

            It is true that Germany has spent a lot of money but they have achieved a significant result and paved the way for us to buy renewable power for about 20-30% of what they paid.

          • Rick 5 months ago

            There has been no reduction in CO2 output since 2009 to 2016 when the ambient energy sector experienced massive growth . The electrical sector has dropped from 344Mt to 332Mt in that period; hardly different.

            The reason Germany exports wind is because their market is saturated at times. It CANNOT be used internally. This the very nature of intermittency – run-whenever-or-not. Germany sometimes pay dearly to use other countries as their battery with high negative prices. Neighbouring countries are also installing phase shifting transformers to prevent Germany from wheeling energy through their grids and risking grid collapse:
            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299523421_Impact_of_phase_shifting_transformers_on_cross-border_power_flows_in_the_Central_and_Eastern_Europe_region/fulltext/570b76d708aed09e9173eb88/299523421_Impact_of_phase_shifting_transformers_on_cross-border_power_flows_in_the_Central_and_Eastern_Europe_region.pdf?origin=publication_detail
            This will limit the power flow south in Germany until Germany upgrades its internal network.

          • Peter F 4 months ago

            That is because it has closed 11 GW of nuclear and increased exports by the equivalent output of 9 GW of coal plants while increasing GDP by about 10%. However as I said the trend is now going down.
            As it turns out all through 2016 and 2017 Germany was a net exporter at times of peak demand. It does pay a little more for imports an average of E41 vs exports at E36 but its total net revenue from power trading was E1.8 billion .https://energy-charts.de/trade.htm?year=2018&period=annual&source=sum_energy
            Neighbouring countries being Poland however last year Poland imported 4% of its electricity supply from Germany and exported none to Germany.
            As for Phase shifting transformers they have been used in Western European grids for many years, it is the old fashioned Eastern European grids that are finally starting to catch up.

            Wheeling as you call it is a problem that Germany has to solve but as they move to a more decentralised grid and upgrade some of the main north south lines, they are starting to find cheaper ways of balancing the grid than massive investments in transmission so that problem is no longer seen as difficult as it once was

  4. Jon Albiez 5 months ago

    The other thing of note in that report is how much of an effect Hornsdale has had on FCAS pricing.

  5. Ben 5 months ago

    Difficult to justify in one sentence claiming huge growth in renewables and in another claiming the government is attacking renewables.
    Seems to me that the only reason renewables are booming is due to subsidies.

    Speaking of subsidies, when is this site going to report that China is winding back their solar subsidies?

    • Peter F 5 months ago

      It has reported it the day it happened but China is still installing about 30 GW of solar this year about 1/3rd of the world total

      • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

        In addition to the 90GW of PHES under their current plan (reported by IHA)

      • itdoesntaddup 4 months ago

        That is sharply down from the 53GW of solar China installed in 2017.

        • Peter F 4 months ago

          That is true because China has far too much generation capacity. It has 1,100 GW of thermal generation it needs about 800 even if no more renewables are installed i.e. it has wasted about $600 bn on unnecessary generation.

          • itdoesntaddup 4 months ago

            Don’t think that has anything to do with the price of tea…

            China’s fossil generation increased by 210TWh in 2017, renewables by 115TWh, and nuclear by 35TWh. Capacity factors on renewables have been disappointing, in part because they lack adequate grid connectivity (which of course pushes up the true cost).

    • Phil NSW 5 months ago

      Oh dear Ben. Another couple of strikes. Subsidies are not being dished out to the renewable industry like you think and are being wound back all the time. Look at the subsidies the fossil fuel industry receive and compare the two. Add the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry are not being wound back and you should couch your statements to say the truth.
      The major driver for the boom in renewables in Australia is the price gouging of the major gentailers and distributors causing people and business to source their own power. In effect the gentailers are hastening their own end. Greed by these and the support obtained from a minority political group has driven prices through the roof (no pun intended).
      You should read previous posts to see China’s position has been well covered on this site. Keep up sunshine. Your conversion to the green side is well underway. Look forward to your next gaff.

      • Ben 5 months ago

        Ok Phil, please educate me and all the other readers about fossil fuel subsidies.

        As for renewables, I suggest you look up the terms “large scale generation certificate” and “feed-in tariff”. Also “government incentive”.

        • Mike Westerman 5 months ago

          Ben even you can look up http://lgc.mercari.com.au/ and see that post 2020 LGC will be worthless, so most contracts where we have details for plants under construction are assigning nothing to them. They have done what they were intended to do: make the inevitable transition to VRE as short and painless as possible.

          Take a look around at the wasteland of mine sites across Australia, the exploration costs by energy departments around Australia, the giveaway royalty extracted that has made coal miners in particular among Australia’s wealthiest and you will quickly recognise that the industry has taken what belongs to all and made enormous margins on it, while leaving a mess to expensive to remedy.

          • Ben 4 months ago

            Hi Mike, I accept that LGC price is set by the market, but therefore it must also be acknowledged that the market may not always react as anticipated. The link below shows a reasonable rebuttal to the $0 LGC prediction.

            https://www.energetics.com.au/insights/thought-leadership/the-outlook-for-lgc-prices-from-a-corporate-perspective/

          • Giles 4 months ago

            As per my response below, this relates only to the market price of LGCs, and not the subsidy price required for an development.
            It is what the retailers think they can get away with charging their big corporate customers, it hs nothing to do with the price of wind and solar.
            Energetics’ suggested solution at the bottom of the article is illustrative – build your own wind and solar.

          • Ben 4 months ago

            Thanks Giles, I’m trying to find the logic in that!

            Investment requires payback, and electricity prices are set by the highest bidder – never wind or solar – usually gas.

            Because wind and solar are weather dependent, when the weather is not favourable for wind and solar, gas usually sets the price – and wind / solar aren’t generating much with unfavourable weather and can’t earn.

            So it seems that the best thing for a wind farm is to have low enough wind energy to get the high price set by gas, but enough wind energy to achieve enough high earning participation.

            Solar is therefore also at the mercy of intermittent wind and it’s effect on wholesale prices.

            If the prevailing thoughts are that more wind and solar will suppress prices most of the time, and gas will set the peaks, the average price will be lower. What that seems to mean is wind sets the low price and gas sets the high price.

            So if we get more wind, and the low price gets lower, the payback for wind investment has to come from somewhere else. Solar likewise, with the added risk that variable wind might take some of the high payback periods away from solar.

            So I don’t know what to make of it. On one hand people are saying future LGC is worth $0 so no subsidies. On the other hand, scarce fuel (wind) almost guarantees high earnings for everything except wind.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Ben I think what we are seeing emerging, and something I fully expect to further develop is wind to contract to firming sources that are can competitively supply into peak markets. Snowy Hydro as been in the market already to contract wind as are some OCGT owners. They buy wind cheap to displace water they wish to conserve or gas they don’t want the cost of, and supply into peak markets at considerable margins, as you say, set by gas. So wind is a convenient way to average down costs or extend a constrained water resource, while the contract averages up what the wind owner would otherwise get. OTH, solar is pretty regular and predictable, but very highly correlated across the NEM. So solar must firm to avoid negative prices during the day. Again, their zero marginal cost means they have a wide range of choices but I anticipate that owning their own firming thru pumped hydro will be attractive, just as Kidston is doing, and others who are still at early stages. The LGCs then become irrelevant.

          • Gregory J. OLSEN Esq 4 months ago

            Mike, could you please use the full names of the acronyms on your first referral to them? I’m not familiar with PHES, CF, OCGT or OTH. Thanx. 🙂

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Hopefully Gregory my abbreviations are no more obscure than Esq or thanx 😉
            PHES – pumped hydro energy storage; CF – capacity factor; OCGT – open cycle gas turbine; OTH – on the other hand.

          • Gregory J. OLSEN Esq 4 months ago

            Thanx, Mike. I’m learning all the time. 🙂

          • Phil NSW 4 months ago

            Hi Ben. Food for thought. A number of years ago I looked at the economics of Infigen. The thing that surprised me was how close over a yearly period the company came to their targets. Now I understand your talking about price setting events. If these wind farms have take off contracts which are not short term based, an averaging down effect I suspect transpires. What are your thoughts?

          • Ben 4 months ago

            Hi Phil, it’s really not my area and I’m only pointing out what I think is logical conclusions.

            I believe what you are saying is that a wind farm with a long term contract will put downward pressure on prices?

            In my simplified view, yes for some of the time, when there is enough of it. All other times the prices will be high. No matter how much wind power is installed there will be periods where it underperforms (SA averages 35%).

            With more installed wind capacity, the less opportunities gas has to earn back operating and standby costs. So the gas power stations have less demand (MWh) available, on top of whatever the fuel price is at the time, to get their costs back. This will tend to put upward pressure on their 30min bid prices.

            I think prices will get peakier and the average will inevitably go up.

            And frequency will get less reliable,

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Ben I think that is where the logic of combining with hydro as Snowy Hydro is in the market doing. The wind guys take a lower average price in return for certainty of not being curtailed off, the hydro gets a known average cost. In SA it will enable PHES which will then displace gas as it slides up that cost curve with lower CF.

            In China they have brought in PHES on the basis of fixed payments that reduce most of the capital risk. The PHES will then enter the market for quite small arbitrage margins, flattening out the price curve.

          • Tony Wilson 4 months ago

            I like the way you are thinking, Ben, but I reckon you’ve got the detail wrong. Solar will soon be the dominant renewable technology because it it cheaper than wind now, and getting cheaper still. There is a heap of solar capacity going in, and even rooftop solar is starting to be significant. Daytime power prices are headed for the floor, especially if there is wind about as well. Think near-zero.
            This makes storage an essential for would-be solar players. Wind generators will get periods of good pricing just by luck, but solar farms will need storage to survive.

            Gas set the high prices? Yep. It already does. Has done for ages. That won’t change anytime soon, but it will gradually ease as we get more storage (batteries and especially hydro) operating. Already the (actually quite small) “big battery” in SA has significantly reduced the gas-operator price gouging. Once we see some decent size pumped hydro plants come on-line, gas will struggle to survive.

            This raises questions about energy security. For how long can we reasonably expect gas operators to maintain plant on standby, ready to be called on just a few times a year? Sooner or later, they are going to shut up shop. Or – as happens in the UK, I understand, demand huge payments for standing idle doing nothing. We should be thinking about this now, ‘coz in a few years it will be a real and present problem.

          • Ben 4 months ago

            I don’t think batteries, being a net load, are a solution to much. Batteries make small intermittent sources able to be dispatched in a limited quantity, but unless the technology makes a huge leap in energy density it can’t support the grid. The SA battery does help with stability but only jumps on the bandwagon during high spot prices created by constrained generation and, as you say, gas gouging. Although I’m not sure what the proportion is between gouging and legitimate earning.

            Solar will get cheaper still I’m sure, but it’s a short term arrangement – 15-20yrs life? Without subsidies there’s no payback and it’s all so small and distributed, somebody has to pay for transmission lines which adds its own risk and operational expense.

            If every intermittent source was required to supply power regardless of weather or time of day, they would have to contract backup from dispatchable sources. And without subsidies this would be a market able to determine the true price of power.

          • Tony Wilson 4 months ago

            Please do not confuse the tiny domestic solar system on your house with the gigantic, industrial-scale soar systems we are talking about here. These are not small, not distributed, not subsidised, use the existing transmission lines exactly the same way that coal, gas, hydro, and wind generators do, are already the cheapest way to generate electricity, are getting cheaper by the year, and are about to become THE major factor in daytime pricing. The number of big new solar plants already committed is staggering. (You can read all about these on a website called “Renew Economy”. I recommend it.)

            As for storage, you can’t have it both ways Ben. If you want power 24/7, you must have inefficiencies. These can take the form of idle equipment on standby, wasteful spinning reserve, batteries, pumps and turbines, and so on. Fact of life. Always been true. Still true.

          • Ben 4 months ago

            Easy champ, I’m only talking about committed projects from the AEMO planning report. The largest is 220 MW in SA and the rest vary between 5-100 MW. These projects are not “large” generators on a grid scale, and are not all built adjacent to an existing substation.

            You may claim the solar plants are not subsidised, but the existence of LGC can’t be dismissed.

            The discussion about inefficiencies is fine, please do talk about it some more. Wind capacity factor in Australia is around 35%, solar not much better. Batteries are nowhere big enough to make a meaningful improvement in that. The exception is behind the meter storage, but only because of the large number of distributed units expected to be installed in the next few years.

        • Phil NSW 4 months ago

          Well done Ben. Your gaffs are a source of amusement to many. I would reiterate being wound back as FIT’s and LGC’s are being. Government incentive is a generic term applying to anything the government wants to incentivise. I would also add to Mike’s comments, diesel rebates and guess who receives them. Congratulations. What is the next step in your education?

          • Ben 4 months ago

            So Phil, diesel rebates are the fossil fuel subsidy? Is this the fuel tax credit that applies to farmers, transport companies, fishing, as well as mining?

            Some FIT schemes have been changed for new starters, but the existing customers stay on the scheme. That’s not “ winding back”.

            What’s the current LGC price? $0? Don’t think so.

            These are subsidies, just acknowledge it.

            I really struggle with the passive aggressive, patronising supercilious tribal tone in many of these comments whenever anybody questions the renewables ideology.

            Please just stick with the facts, and address the question without the snide crap.

          • Giles 4 months ago

            Ben, talk to bankers and project developers and you will find it rapidly clear that new wind and solar projects value the LGCs at zero.
            The spot price for LGCs is a different issue. It accounts for a small part of the market and is no more reflective of the cost of renewables than a market peak of $14,200 is of the cost of coal. It’s just what happens when the market is tight.
            Why is the LGC market tight? Because the retailers did not contract enough wind and solar to meet their targets, having sat on their bums as they urged the Coalition government to scrap the target, and then had to scramble when that tactic failed.
            So, all the talk from the Coalition and the government that the RET imposes subsidies of $3.9 billion or some such is absolute tosh.
            Corporates are rapidly walking up, and are now bypassing the traditional retailers and contracting or building their own wind and solar plants because of the obvious price savings and security. None of these corporates factor in any price of LGCs.

  6. Hugh Butler 4 months ago

    Really enjoyed the comments especially Mike Westerman’s detailed evidence based arguments. What anti-renewable really fail.is time. Solar panels (25%) & LiOn batteries (14%) have been reducing year on year for the past 15 years. So in 4 years the cost to a consumer will be a half. 10 years one quarter. Right now a consumer has a 3 year payback. Shopping centres 18% roi. My prediction is that in 4 years even the most ardent FF advocate will install PV all the while cradling their lump of coal.

  7. Ralph Buttigieg 4 months ago

    That graph doesn’t mean much unless it show the whole sale price prior to closure. How does it compare with first quarter 1 2016?

  8. Aluap 4 months ago

    The more energy sources the less gaming of the system. The government recently learnt of energy gaming through the Grattan Report. Who actually believed that?

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