What's behind scare campaign on rooftop solar "blackout" threat | RenewEconomy

What’s behind scare campaign on rooftop solar “blackout” threat

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Scare campaigns about blackouts, this time caused by rooftop solar, are again in mainstream media. We explain what’s going on here, and why the claims are dubious. Updated with further response from AEMO.

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Band of Frequencies. It’s all your fault

The headlines are screaming again from mainstream media about the threats of blackouts, only this time it is not about having not enough coal, or too much wind, but because of the so-called threat of having too many rooftop solar panels on the grid.

It began last month with this headline in The West Australian, “Rooftop solar poses blackout threat to WA’s main power grid,”, and was followed on Thursday – following presentations and interviews at the Energy Networks Australia conference in Sydney – by similar headlines in The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Both stories relied on comments from the head of the ENA Andrew Dillon, and the head of energy software company Greensync, Phil Blythe. “Dumb solar threat to grid stability”, said The Australian. “Solar surplus set to overload the grid,” said the SMH, and its Fairfax stable mates.

And federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg joined in on Thursday morning while addressing the same conference, warning that the “exponential” growth of rooftop solar was “placing real challenges” on the grid, and citing the same stories, though he stopped short of mentioning blackouts when asked by Reneweconomy.

What’s going on?

Rooftop solar has been growing steadily, encouraged initially by generous feed in tariffs and later by ongoing but declining upfront rebates.

And now – aided and abetted by the plunging cost of solar technologies and the soaring cost of the grid – the uptake is accelerating, with a record 583MW added in the first five months of 2018, the country total standing at more than 7GW and predictions it could be close to 20GW by 2030.

But this has been forecast, and welcomed. Distributed energy, such as rooftop solar and the predicted uptake of battery storage and electric vehicles and demand management is forecast by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the CSIRO to account for nearly half of all supply within a few decades.

It is generally recognised, even by this government, that the energy system is rapidly evolving from a centralised, fossil fuel based grid, to a decentralised, renewable one – a grid that will be faster, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable than the dumb, dirty and ridiculously expensive grid we have now.

Our first reaction to the West Australian story was that it was a beat up, but it turns out that it’s pretty much exactly what AEMO had said in a submission to a WA parliamentary enquiry (pages 18 and 19) into the opportunities for micro-grid technology.

“A critical issue arising from uncoordinated DER growth (particularly rooftop solar PV systems), is that at some point, the total output from rooftop solar PV systems will be greater than the demand on the system (ie. on low demand sunny days),” AEMO wrote.
“This excess generation can result in an inability to dispatch sufficient frequency control ancillary services to manage system frequency effectively. In a situation of high rooftop solar PV output, should invertors ‘trip’ en masse in an uncontrolled manner, with insufficient frequency control ancillary services online and available this can result in subsequent under frequency load shedding.
“The worst case outcome of such a scenario is a total system blackout (our emphasis).
“This point may not be far away, considering the projected increases in embedded generation. It is possible that alternative ancillary service arrangements may be required to deal with this problem. With more utility-scale synchronous generators expected to exit the market, this work needs to proceed with some urgency.”

This was the substance of the message being broadcast by ENA’s Dillon and Greensync’s Blythe at the network knees-up in Sydney on Wednesday.

But does it stand up to scrutiny?

Well, not really.

The question is centred on the quality and the ability of rooftop solar inverters to respond to frequency and voltage disturbances, and what happens when rooftop solar output exceeds grid demand – as is predicted in South Australia and Western Australia on occasions within the next 10 years.

These issues have been addressed by a new standard, AS4777, which was published in October 2015, and came into force in October, 2016, since which time nearly 2GW of rooftop solar has been added to the grid.

This standard requires these inverters to operate and not switch off when frequencies venture outside the nominated AEMO frequency bands – i.e. solar PV inverters will be helping keep frequency up and will never be the reason why under frequency is a cause of grid instability.

And in over frequency situations where PV generation might be exceeding grid demand, the solar PV inverters operate to what is called a droop curve. That is, they automatically reduce the power being injected into the grid as the frequency rises – this is solid state and happens within microseconds of the grid changing.

It’s much the same thing that has enabled the Hornsdale Power Reserve, the Tesla big battery, to react so quickly and accurately to frequency changes. Basically, digital electronics are better than steam engines when it comes to responding to change, as AEMO has acknowledged.

We asked ENA’s Dillon on Thursday about the new standards, and he conceded that the issue was actually with the previous crop of inverters, before the new standard. But even this claim is doubtful.

A previous AEMO study, “Response of existing PV inverters to frequency disturbances”  looked at the quality of rooftop solar systems installed on the grid up to May, 2015, when 3.7 GW of rooftop solar had been connected to the grid.

It looked into exactly the scenario of solar PV exceeding grid demand and it found that “a large proportion” of inverters have frequency trip settings that are outside the frequency operating ranges for “system normal, credible contingency, and non-credible contingency events.”

As these graphs show, more than half the inverters were designed to deal with under-frequency events, and three-quarters for over-frequency events.

As the AEMO report noted:

“With this diversity in frequency trip settings, it appears unlikely that a mass disconnection of small-scale PV generation would occur during frequency disturbances.” 

So, no “total blackouts”.

Inverter suppliers point out that most tier 1 inverters have had such capabilities since 2010 (read this technical explanation from one leading inverter manufacturer published in June, 2010), before the solar PV boom emerged. That appears confirmed by the AEMO survey.

As AEMO also noted:

The introduction of the new AS/NZS 4777.2–2015 will result in the standardisation of frequency responses for PV inverters (including battery storage) installed from 9 October 2016.

This will mean that new compliant inverters will not disconnect for frequencies in the range of 47 Hz – 52 Hz. For some inverters installed before 9 October 2016, the risk of disconnection during operational frequency bands will reduce as they reach the end of their life and are progressively replaced with inverters compliant with AS/NZS 4777.2–2015.

It should be noted that drifting below 49Hz is still a very serious contingency event, so the solar would only drop after a serious contingency event – it couldn’t be the cause of one.

In other words, the chance of a “total blackout” are so remote there is just as much chance of the country’s hospital system being suddenly overloaded because everyone in Australia was hit by a bus at the same time.

“It’s news to me,” was the response of the CEO of one major energy utility when approached by RenewEconomy about the blackout threat during the conference.

Another, Richard Gross, the head of Australia’s biggest grid operator, Ausgrid, is actually encouraging more solar into the system so it can spend less on network upgrades.

“The Ausgrid network has sufficient capacity for the expected uptake levels of rooftop solar on our footprint,” he said. “Our current solar penetration is modest compared to other distributors. The impacts are higher in more sparsely connected rural networks rather than in dense urban networks such as Ausgrid’s.”

So what’s this all about?

Well, get used to this new acronym: DSO.

It stands for Distributed System Operator, and its about the ability of AEMO, the networks, or some other party having visibility, and control, over the rooftop solar systems installed on the nation’s 2 million plus houses.

In network talk, its called orchestration. AEMO wants visibility because in a grid that gets nearly half of its supply from distributed energy – rooftop solar, battery storage, electric vehicles and demand management – it wants to be able to see what’s going on, and control it if need be.

Network operators and software providers like Greensync are hot on this idea because they can see potential revenues.

The networks, initially, for convincing the regulator to allow them to spend tens of millions of dollars on IT systems and research, and further out because they might see a role for themselves in aggregating this demand and playing in the wholesale or grid services market.

Greensync and co like it because they want to be the traders of this new commodity. As we reported on Wednesday, in our story devoid of blackout threats, we will get some idea of what this DSO and orchestration might look like, and who might control it, when AEMO and the ENA release a joint report next week.

And as one wise soul pointed out to RenewEconomy on the sidelines of the conference: “A lot of companies are hanging their hat on this. There’s a lot of money to be made for this, they all want boxes in houses, and they want it to be their box.”

And, this good person further noted, the best way to get things moving in Australia – and grab control of a citizen’s asset – is to spread alarmist rhetoric, confect crisis, and then look like you have a solution.

That’s depressing.

Climate and energy policy in Australia has been constantly derailed by baseless scare campaigns about new technology. Even Frydenberg had the gall to tell the conference , on the subject of the National Energy Guarantee, that policy had been “bogged down by the hyper partisan debate.”

This from the Coalition that has mastered the art of hyper partisanship and exaggeration. As Frydenberg (rightly) noted, the biggest losers have been consumers, and they will continue to lose if such scare campaigns continue.

We asked AEMO for some clarity on this and whether there had been any further studies, but hadn’t heard back by publication time.

Perhaps they were all too busy sticking sticky tape on the coal generators which have been tripping all over the shop in NSW these past few days and remain the biggest threat to power supplies.

(Indeed, if you got back to 2011 its was the Northern Territory’s Power and Water that requested that solar PV inverters have their frequency band points expanded – so that if large loads or gas generators tripped that PV can actually help stabilise the local grid.

Power and Water found that solar PV inverters had a wider tolerance to fluctuation in voltage and frequency than their gas and diesel generators. So when a load tripped or generator they needed the PV inverters to kick in or back off to help stabilise the grid)

Clearly though, we need to move beyond the period of hyperbole, hyper-partisanship and scare campaigns.

There is probably a really good case for more visibility on rooftop solar and battery storage, and even “orchestration” and control of those assets to provide flexibility, ensure excess power can be stored and demand is managed.Bbut the case needs to be made without such blatant exaggeration.

In any case, it’s what is going to happen anyway. This transition is unstoppable, and if policy makers and regulators are smart, and fair, they will encourage the uptake of battery storage and other smart software that will usher in a new digital and distributed age that will actually help, not hinder, grid stability.

Solar PV inverters have dynamic response capabilities that lower or raise the energy they generate to help maintain stable voltage.  They do this in an instant. Batteries make this even easier.   

As another observer noted:

“Change creates risk for the incumbent and uncertainty for those employed to support the past and the present.

“The interests of the incumbent tend to encourage the fears of the latter. Luckily for the planet, clean energy technology is proving to be both better and cheaper, which means like lava flowing down a hill – the pace may look glacial but the outcome is predictable, and eventually all will move on.”

We could just ask the incumbents and the regulators to not beat it up in the meantime.

Update: We received this from AEMO is response to our questions:

The impact of rooftop solar on the grid is currently small, however as the percentage of rooftop solar grows, the system’s ability to deal with this will be increasingly challenged, particularly if there is a contingency on the system (eg a generator or very large load tripping off suddenly).

The power system requires frequency control and other ancillary services that cannot be provided solely by rooftop solar, particularly under present arrangements. Once uncontrolled rooftop solar output approaches the system demand, there is no room left for the generators that provide these critical ancillary services. Moreover, once there is more generation than load, the frequency will increase until the rooftop invertor over frequency settings are reached. The power system must be kept in constant supply-demand balance, such that managing the power system becomes more challenging the greater the percentage of supply is uncontrolled.   

 While the Australian Standards have been updated so that rooftop solar changes its output more consistently to frequency changes and hence respond by changing output to contingency events, it will do so in a less refined manner than traditional generator governor and frequency control ancillary service response. The swings in frequency as a result of rooftop solar coming on and off during these contingency or excess generation events needs further analysis and will impact how we are managing on the power system particularly as rooftop solar penetration increases.

 The “Response of existing PV inverters to frequency disturbances” report covers both the NEM and WA in terms of the invertor frequency trip settings however the consideration of system impacts was contained to the NEM – a much larger, more interconnected market that can manage frequency using a larger pool of reserves and strong interconnections. The WA micro-grid enquiry submission relates to the WA market – an islanded system where a significant disturbance impacting rooftop solar would have a greater impact on the system due to its high penetration level and lack of interconnection.


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  1. Joe 2 years ago

    Only in Australia could such a headline of too much solar being a blackout threat get the media into a frenzy. Too much solar the headlines, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Please, some commonsense and when will the journos do some research before printing. Is the rest of the world in blackout due to solar?

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      One of my denier cousins added breathlessly “and what about the safety concerns for firemen attending where you have rooftop solar?”.

      • john 2 years ago

        YEAS OMg my mother is in trouble’
        That is exactly what you will read next week it the Idiot Media or as in Murdock

        • MrMauricio 2 years ago

          tell your denier cousin to check his mother’s downlights

      • Joe 2 years ago

        All we need now is for the Kelly with his Parliamentary Energy Sub Committee hat on to launch a new salvo against Solar / Renewables He’ll launch a broadside that solar is dangerous, unreliable and will blow up the Grid ( because there is too much of it!!!!!!! ) Remember that the Kelly is the dude that spread that rubbish about RE making electricity so expensive that grannies were dying in their homes because they can’t afford to put the air con on in summer or the heater on in winter.

        • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

          yes what seems consistent in the intransigence of deniers is their disinterest in truth or evidence. It makes it clear it is a faith position important to their identity – it’s what makes Kelly and Abbott so dangerous.

        • rob 2 years ago

          The only thing that is keeping NSW from going system black all day today had been wind and hydro from Tas SA and Vic

          • Joe 2 years ago

            Just read that story in today’s edition of Renew Economy. The COALition Fossil Fools have keep it all quiet. But if it was Renewables somehow failing it would be breaking news across all the media outlets as The COALition give another public spray.

          • rob 2 years ago

            and it is getting worse as every one arrives home ! RERT negotiations have begun for NSW. currently NSW is receiving 500 from each SA TAS AND VIC and 1200 plus from QLD! That is insane! That’s 2700 Mw imported…….Not that I wish it on customers but shit being from S.A. and what the COALition gave us as a result of a storm I SO HOPPE NSW GOES SYSTEM BLACK!

    • JWW 2 years ago

      Well said. A quick Google search for how this issue has been dealt with overseas would habe quickly calmed down the discussion. In the German/European grid, the problem was known as the “50.2Hz problem”. Outdated German regulation demanded that grid inverters had to immediately disconnect (ie stop producing power) from the grid in case the frequency exceeded 50.2Hz. In 2012, Germany had some 20GWp of PV capacity installed, and this amount suddenly disappearing and reappearing might have caused a yoyo-effect that could take down the German grid. At least that was feared.
      The solution was simple though: The rules were changed, and the inverters in larger PV systems got a firmware upgrade, to achieve a gradual reduction in output between 50.2Hz and 51.5Hz. Simple.
      Another approach that was discussed (and implemented?) was that the inverter manufacturers could also randomise the cut-out frequency of their inverters to achieve the same outcome, on average.
      No need for centralised monitoring or even remote control. I am sure that SMA and other European inverter manufacturer can explain how it is done to the fearmongers in Australia.

  2. DevMac 2 years ago

    Large swing of the pendulum from:
    “solar and wind installations can never replace coal electricity production completely”
    “there is so much consumer solar that the grid won’t be able to handle it”

    Talk about trying to have their cake and eat it too. Would have been nice if all the gold-plating they did to the grid during their glory years was actually in preparation for a future with household solar panels or any kind of preparation for a fairly easily predictable future style of grid…

    I guess it’s difficult to see the road ahead when you’re gorging from the trough.

    (edit: fixed wording logic)

    • Chris Drongers 2 years ago

      My thoughts too. Occasionally I read the comments to environment /renewables articles in the tabloids. At least the yelling from the coal-ists following this scare will quieten the previous ‘renewables cannot get the scale to be a serious power source’ yellers.

      Side issue – with China slowing renewables installations to let distribution/regulations catch up causing 34 GW of pv panels to hit the non-China market another downstep in panel prices is likely, with a consequent upsrep in installations likely. The solar transition will accelerate in 2018/9 . Yippee!

      • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

        The US import tariff on Chinese solar panels will help also.

    • MrMauricio 2 years ago

      and Andrew Bolts description of solar rooftop input as “a trickle”

      • Joe 2 years ago

        Would that be ‘Treacle Down’ or ‘Treacle Up’ from the Bolts.

        • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

          Sounds like a sticky situation.

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      You do recall the debt and deficit disaster scare campaign!!??

    • John Herbst 2 years ago

      ‘I guess it’s difficult to see the road ahead when you’re gorging from the trough.’

      The ENA have a very clear roadmap and are working closely with the AER to push it through.

      • DevMac 2 years ago

        That comment was in regards to gold-plating of the networks. It was also probably unnecessarily inflammatory 🙂

        • John Herbst 2 years ago

          I should have mentioned that the ENA’s roadmap is a scary “big network” model that I don’t support at all. My comment was just to say “these guys ain’t dumb”. Flame on!

  3. Rod 2 years ago

    South Australia was ahead of the curve on rooftop solar and as such has a lot of older inverters in place.
    The article below is about a near miss in SA that IMHO may have been a system black had it happened two hours earlier. i.e. more solar input.

    • Michael Gunter 2 years ago

      Thanks.. interesting case that one! “…the loss of around 400MW of load, which an AEMO spokesman attributes to the ‘natural response’ of modern electronic equipment and appliances such as air conditioners, pool pumps, fridges, fluorescent lights, etc that dropped out on low voltage.” — well maybe but perhaps the DNSPs are not fessing up to their programmed hair-trigger #CVR operation at many/all zone subs, plus a bit of load shedding, either contracted or via unplanned outages in the ‘burbs.

      The “natural response” of induction motors in aircons, fridges and pool pumps to low voltage can be to stall, triggering voltage collapse in a local HV/LV grid, high currents, tripped circuit breakers back at the substation. But there were no reports back then of such happenings AFAIK. If 1504 to 1512hrs (EAST) did correspond with brief local blackouts, then it would have been reported in an @AEMO_Media debrief paper (maybe I missed it?)

      If widespread, automated and fast-acting CVR happened across many/most/all ZSSs in South Australia, then that fact should also have been a part of any comprehensive debrief document. Figure 3 does appear very like the sort of demand response triggered by automated CVR e.g. as reported in Karlsson D. & Hill D.J. IEEE Transactions on Power System, Vol. 9, No. 1, February 1994

      • Rod 2 years ago

        I’m not aware of any load shedding and personally didn’t notice any low voltage effects such as slowing ceiling fans.
        My basic whole home meter readout shows the incident but oddly it appears the inverter stayed off line for the rest of the day. Or maybe the meter was malfunctioning.
        Re reading the article, I note they saw 150MW of PV loss. That convinces me that if it had happened near solar midday, the outcome may have been very different.

  4. Andy Saunders 2 years ago

    And there we have the battleground of the future – retailers and networks want *their* box inside the home. Which means they control it, and trade the energy back and forward.

    Whereas the ideal future is the resident controlling the box.

    If you think about it, the possible sources of energy in a home of the future include: grid import, solar panels, home battery discharge and EV battery discharge. The possible loads include grid export, domestic loads, home battery charge and EV charge. With possible multiple EVs and various load control (either on-off like pool pumps and water heating, or variable like AC temp settings), it’s a complex mix. It’s *highly* unlikely that the optimal box algorithm from the retailer or network point of view is te optimal from the resident.

    Instead imagine a truly optimising algorithm. It knows your prior history and current calendar, so knows whether you plan to go out in a few hours time (so might avoid discharging your EV into the evening peak if you’re in the habit of driving – it might depend on the exact event you’re going to). The box knows the wholesale energy price (probably via an aggregator minus a margin) so can decide whether to curtail loads and/or export from the batteries into the grid. It knows the economics of whether to divert excess mid-day solar PV into a load, the home battery or grid export. It maximises the *household* economics (taking into account user habits and preferences). Will a retailer or network-supplied box do much of this?

    Nope. That’s why there’s going to be a battle (and an opportunity for someone to build that ideal box).

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Well put Andy. And these boxes can readily be put together today for about $100 and some Python programming skills using a Raspberry Pi and a load controller, CTs and relays from Alibaba.

    • Michael Gunter 2 years ago

      if *ANYONE* is going to shorten the life of my batteries by deciding when, how often and how deeply they will be cycled it has to be me, *period*. Remote wannabes trying to take control of my assets for their own financial gain can all get stuffed. That’s why i went off-grid 5 years ago, must have dreamed this unfolding $H1_fight ………. in my nightmares.

      The black box of which you speak is, at its most basic, the common-sense that resides in the mind of every climate-aware citizen/householder. The goal in a #ClimateEmergency is not so much about dollars or convenience as about not being [excessively] complicit in the anthropogenic existential threat to 7.5bn lives.

      • solarguy 2 years ago

        Your right they can’t be allowed to stuff around with privately owned batteries. Storage is a reserve and if they don’t invest in their own storage enough by pilfering ours the system will fail. That’s why we need a gov with leadership and brains now.

        • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

          “…we need a gov with leadership and brains now.”

          Good luck with that.

    • Joe 2 years ago

      I’m not up to speed on this but those Smart Meters that Victoria rolled out and now NSW energy retailers are rolling out are they the stalking horse to ‘take control’ of solar homes I wonder.

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      I like your mind.

    • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

      And there we have the battleground of the future – retailers and networks want *their* box inside the home. Which means they control it, and trade the energy back and forward.
      This sounds all fine and dandy as long as whoever controls the box also pays for the solar, batteries, and rents roof space from the home owner. Anything that costs the home owner is a no-no IMO

      • Hettie 2 years ago

        Agreed. You want to farm my solar output? You pay me what it’s worth at that moment. If it’s worth $14,200/mWh, thank you very much. Even though at 5 minute settlement it is a whole big $1.18, or if still on 30 minutes, $7.09, if that’s what it’s worth, that’s what it’s worth.

        • Joe 2 years ago

          ‘Our solar’, a tidy little earner at MARKET prices, I’ll have some of that as well!

        • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

          Exactly. My soon to be installed 6Kw PV array will export about 20kWh/day. At 11.3c per kWh that’s a ‘massive’ $2.26/day…
          Compare that to the number of ‘peak’ events @ $14/kWh divided by the settlement time, and I would be earning bugger all. Unless… I could earn the $2.26 a day AND make a few extra dollars on these peak events. BUT… the more wind, solar and batteries are installed, the less chance there will be a peak event at all, so in the end it is possibly unlikely anyone would make any money on peak events. Just ask any Reposit owner how much money they have made… The answers will be deafening.

  5. ChrisEcoSouth 2 years ago

    I agree the proposition certainly seems to want to raise the ‘what if?’ scare scenario. From what I see, high street voltage is at times knocking off-line new AS4777 compliant inverters all the time on cold, sunny days right now – nothing to do with frequency per se.

    The statement that “if they all went offline together” says to me either someone doesn’t know what they are talking about, or they know something they are not letting on! It is precisely because inverters are distributed across all the grid, that it means they go offline independently in exact response to local ‘pocket’ grid conditions – and give the grid more than 60 seconds delay before they even try to come back online. Multiply that into the many thousands and you have a recipe for self-healing stability.
    But back to the high street voltage – utilities are rightly concerned about the day when at noon-ish, PV export exceeds local grid demand – then where does it go? Well, we get our old ‘friend’ high street voltage knocking inverters off en masse – but in an independent distributed way – a ‘self-controlled crash’. The consumer backlash of not getting their export would probably be the scariest thing for the utilities IMHO!

    • Rick 2 years ago

      The backlash will be from the investors in grid scale solar and wind because they will be suffering from increasing “curtailment”. Imagine what the economics look like for wind when capacity factors are less than 10%. Not because of lack of wind but because most of the load has disappeared and when there is demand the wind is not blowing and it needs to be met by gas. From 1st June to 5th June the 5000+GW of wind averaged 300MW; good demand but no supply!

      The fear for AEMO is grid defection. That means that grid supply will become uneconomic. It is the inevitable consequence of using a network to supply from energy sources with high returns to scale being used for energy sources with near zero benefit of scale.
      Anyone with cash reserves can put panels on their roof and a battery in the garage and make/store their own electricity. A grid comprising the same technology cannot be lower cost than having the energy collection at the load thereby avoid the poles and wires, some 60% of the cost of electricity in Australia. Solar/battery is already the economic proposition in South Australia.

      Meanwhile China is no longer the poster child of the solar energy enthusiasts. The subsidies are on their way out:
      Hopefully panels will be getting dumped in Australia so rooftop system prices should fall over the next year or so. Remember the term for calculating STCs is now down to 12 years. The longer you wait the less you get from the poor renter down the road who subsidises your purchase through their ever increasing electricity bills.

      • Vox 2 years ago

        I think you’re overhyping things a bit.
        For a wind farm to go down to 10% NCF, that would mean something like 60% curtailment, which is unimaginable. Long before curtailment would reach that sort of level, AEMO would b e looking at cost benefit analysis of upgrading choke-points to relieve congestion.

        Similar for grid defection, the economics to get 100% of your power from solar and batteries are quite bad, and very diferent from having a single Powerwall. There are just so many periods where the grid is a backup to demand that the equation just doesn’t add up.
        That said, with RE continuing to push wholesale prices down, this will soon start reflecting on consumer’s bills.

        • Rick 2 years ago

          You say that the economics to get 100% from solar battery is quite bad. It is not as bad as trying to get 50% wind and solar on the grid plus having 100% gas backup and then burden the cost of generation with 150% additional transmission cost plus paying the grid scale wind and solar an extra 8c/kWh transfer payment for their proportion of generation; 4c/kWh at 50% RET.

          Buy low cost panels when China floods the market and make the most of the declining STC purchase subsidy. Batteries are yet to show any price decline but it may come once the reality of electric cars is widely known.

          • Vox 2 years ago

            It’s patent that you don’t understand how the electricity market works, but I would suggest that you read up on it.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            I was instrumental in the development of the national grid. It horrifies me to see how intermittent generation is destroying the economics of the grid. The only sensible place for intermittent generation is off grid with battery back-up. Grid prices actually fell in the late nineties once the state monopolies got competition. Now all that has been negated by the simple decision to allow ambient generation on the network.

          • Vox 2 years ago

            You may know about the grid back in the day, but to understand the economics of the electricity market today is a completely different kettle of fish.

            You are off the bat negating the results of multiple consultant reports commissioned by the very government in it’s efforts to undermine renewable generation.

            There isn’t a single iota of evidence supporting the assertion that it is renewable that are causing price increases.

            It is destroying the economics of coal generators, and that is because it is undercutting it to a growing extent. Now, if that is bad for the population as a whole, paint me green and call me Bob…

            Perhaps coal was really cheap up to the 90’s because no-one gave a sod about acid rain, particulate pollution, and health diseases caused by coal generator pollution. And again, if you think the direction of movement away from that is a good thing, you may need to reconsider your priorities.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            There isn’t a single iota of evidence supporting the assertion that it is renewable that are causing price increases.

            You have to be joking. I have not paid for electricity or gas since 2011. I have made a killing through the highest FIT 66c/kWh. I only installed 3kW on-grid back then but I have gradually installed off-grid generation with battery to supply most of the household load. I still rely on the grid to run gas heating fans in winter and I will not be off-grid till the FIT expires in 2024.

            Someone is paying for me to enable me to pay nothing for my on-demand energy usage. Same people who are paying for the LGCs and STCs.

            Wholesale and commercial electricity prices have tripled in the last 5 years:
            Note the bump in SA when Northern Power shut down and the bump in Victoria when Hazelwood closed. Made uneconomic due to intermittency that only gas can follow.

            The reports on the Australian power grid show such naivety they are laughable – fairy-tales come to mind. Even AEMO make LCOE comparisons between ambient generators and scheduled generation. How silly are these comparisons. Who in their right mind could ever imagine a high market share for ambient generators into a grid, without substantial storage, maintaining their natural capacity factors. Just naive!

            Look at this fairy-tale:
            Look at the solar and wind generation profiles on pages 30 and 31 and tell me honestly if you cannot see how fanciful this is.

          • Vox 2 years ago

            How about matching those increases in electricity prices with the price and availability of gas contracts to feed the gas peaking plants?

            How about considering the forward price curves of the wholesale market with renewables?

            How about considering that the Coalition’s muddling around with the RET resulted in a build freeze for 3 years, which might have contributed to high power prices?

            Power plants have an end of life. Both Northern and Hazelwood were already well past their due date. To say this wouldn’t have happened without renewables is disengenious.

            That having happened, the energy to compensate those closures would have come from coal fire power plants, with cost of energy well higher than the current renewables. How would that lead to lower power prices?

          • Rick 2 years ago

            You are now stating that ambient energy is lower cost than coal but above you state that 100% ambient energy is more expensive than the grid when all ambient energy on the grid is hobbled by the 150% INBCREASE to transmit it!. Can you see the inconsistency here.

          • Vox 2 years ago

            If you go and read my comment above, I stated that using solar and battery on your house to not rely on the grid is very expensive.

            How you manage to turn that into a contradiction that utility scale renewable energy is cheaper than coal is a wonder in itself.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Vox stated:

            coal fire power plants, with cost of energy well higher than the current renewables.

            Further up stated:

            the economics to get 100% of your power from solar and batteries are quite bad,

            Surely if ambients are so much lower cost than coal at grid level then knocking out 60% of the cost component by using a rooftop system would make them a no brainer.

          • Vox 2 years ago

            What is 60% of the cost component? The grid?

            How about the cost of the batteries? And not talking about 1 power wall, I mean enough storage to ensure that you don’t have to curtail your energy usage on a cold, cloudy winter day.

            If you want to compare apple to apple, find out the economics of building a coal fired steam turbine to generate electricity for a single house.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            The generation component of electricity is 40%. Transmission, distribution and retail are 60%. So cost delivered is 150% of generation cost.

            I operate off grid so I know what it costs and I know the required capacity factor and the size of the battery to give me better than 999days in 1000days in Melbourne from solar.

            So where is the battery in the grid that allows all the ambient energy to be stored when there is surplus and then tapped to supply the deficit.

          • Vox 2 years ago

            That will almost only be an issue in 10 years. In the meantime, the likes of Neoen with Hornsdale and grid operators are starting to install grid-scale batteries. The buildout of pumped hydro is also slated to pick up, and that too will sort that out.

            In the meantime, gas is more than capable of dealing with peaks and gaps.

            But let’s keep the discussion away from the straw man of “100% renewables today”, because everyone knows that will is not a realistic scenario, much in the same way that 100% coal is unrealistic.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            100% is a realistic scenario for those who go off grid.

            So what you are saying is that the grid needs 100% gas now because there is no storage ( OK the HPR can supply 0.3% of the NEM average demand for 70 minutes = zero to nearest percent) Fast response gas is three times more expensive than coal.

            Do you begin to realise that ambient power sources have forced up the cost of power by an extraordinary amount. Any comparison based on LCOE is meaningless when dealing with intermittents. They have to be buffered. At present that is occurring at an extremely high cost because fast response gas must displace low cost coal for every bit of intermittent capacity added. There is no reduction in fossil fuel capacity because there are times when wind AND solar do nothing. Just go back to the first 5 days of June and see how much all those wind turbines produced. Basically Australia has to maintain a backup fossil generator for every bit of added ambient generation and it has to stay hot even if not generating so still consuming fuel.

            The Tesla/Samsung battery cost twice/kWh what I paid for my cells from the WA importer. Inverters are peanuts when not required for grid interface.

            AEMO are beginning to recognise the stupidity of intermittents and flaws in their simplistic calculations. If you think that intermittents can reduce carbon emissions on a global basis you would be mistaken. Germany is proof of that. A buffered ambient energy system cannot produce enough energy over its lifetime to replicate itself. There is very little prospect of retiring wind turbines in Germany being replaced with new ones because the subsidies are drying up.

            SA March election on intermittents failed to garner support. The people are beginning to see reality.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            So much stupid anger Rick – were you that pissed that someone messed with your simplistic market design? You are obviously old enough to remember the early days of mobile phones. No-one at that time thought they could throw away their land line, let alone the dial up modem. Now? All my kids run on mobile only for everything. If you looked for longer than a glance thru the blindness of your annoyance that life moves on and leaves us grumpy old men behind, you’d notice that the solar and wind is still only occasionally putting a dent in the black coal supply, no impact at all on brown coal, hydro playing a big part in balancing, so effectively the solar and wind is just stretching they hydro and reducing the gas. As more hydro (pumped hydro) comes on line within the next 5y, and more solar comes on line, this will become more the case. As both conventional and pumped hydro are less than half the cost of gas, the net result will be continuing falling prices. Loads are intermittent as well as solar and wind and so demand will follow prices: expect to see significant thermal storage which is cheaper again. And all the while without the cost of environmental damage.

            If you don’t like LCOE as a measure, try marginal cost – virtually zero for most renewables. Which means if taxpayer dollars built the new solar, wind and pumped hydro, all other forms of generation are gone.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            I love this stuff. I was one of the first to have rooftop solar. I still get the 66c/kWh FIT. I also operate most of my load off grid. So I know in infinite detail the costs.

            What bugs me is the delusion that any of this will reduce CO2 output. Both Germany and China have woken up to the folly:

            Those with cash can rort the system so those who rent or are cash poor pay for the rort. I justify my position on the basis that my contribution to the grid reduces the income of wind farms and I am being rewarded for taking a significant risk back in 2011. The RET is the most regressive form of transfer payment ever devised. Once the subsidies go the investment in grid ambients will dry up. There will be increasing economic return for residential consumers as the power prices continue to spiral upwards. Anyone who thinks prices will come down is delusional. Wholesale prices in NSW hit $2600/MWh in NSW today. Imagine what the price would be if Liddell was closed!

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Yeah, sure you do. Except you’re out of time, wrong side of history. No-one will ever build another coal fired power station in Australia. As oil prices continue up, gas will follow, only driving more rooftop. AEMO is already planning REZ to reduce the connection costs of large scale solar. As gas prices continue to rise more pumped hydro and battery storage will come on line to support it. AEMO will introduce a smartphone app for peer to peer trading. Sorry bud, the money exchange you may have had a hand in will be on the scrap heap within the decade.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Not many have residences with electricity accounts that look like this:
            Greatest rort ever conceived. Has been my best investment in retirement.

            You clearly have not read the start of this thread. I was encouraging everyone to get out and buy cheap solar panels when they flood in from China as the incentives there are going. Take control of their electricity bill and kill the rorts.

            Australia does not need low cost power for industry. It has/will shut down or build its own coal fired plant. Australia has essentially exported its industry to China and other parts of the world. Virtually everything manufactured used in Australia comes from China. They use Australian coal to produce the low cost electricity needed. Demand for steaming coal is booming:
            So the poor renters in Australia are being slugged so the wealthy can feel good about reducing CO2. But on a global level ambient energy cannot reduce CO2.

            Why bother with any smart phone app for electricity when you can attached 40 or so cheap panels on the roof and a 20kWh battery in the cabinet behind the garage and never worry about energy cost again. It is cheaper for you to do that than rely on the clumsy virtue waving ensemble that the grid owners and operators have become.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            So let me get this right: you are a self confessed rorter or hypocrite but you want others to follow what you do? I’ve read your rant from go to woe – can’t say it motivated me to do anything other than to have a go at you!

            But I’m glad you’re encouraging people to buy solar, even tho’ you do so on the basis of some nonsensical imminent flood price cash prediction. My prediction is the price will continue to fall for the same reasons it has in the past: better technology. But large scale solar is looking to field mechanisation to reduce their costs, and from discussions with contractors they’re optimistic. And the idea of renewable energy zones will dramatically lower their transmission costs. So I fully anticipate <$30 prices for solar energy within 5y. In other parts of the world developers are already bettering that price.

            As for renters, I'd suggest they do as my kids and siblings have done: get a quote, and go to their landlords with a deal. It would be better of course if this was legislated altho' the economic incentive is almost strong enough. Which of course is what the now vanishing subsidies like your "rort" were intended to do and have now achieved.

            If you weren't such a miserable old bastard, you'd probably see that….virtue waving: such a trite but trendy term, so Alan "I'm a man of the people even if I'm a millionaire" Jones.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            There is no way that grid based ambient energy can compete with solar generation at load. It is hobbled by a 150% increase in cost to transmit it. Adding more wires to create zones just adds more transmission cost and so-called good plating for a commodity that can be sourced from any roof then stored in a little box at the back of the garage without ongoing costs.

            Your $30 is a meaningless number because it is unbuffered supply. The cost to build pumped storage to make use of it mind boggling and a fantasy. AEMO is already forecasting SA will have ZERO minimum demand by 2024. And all states are following. So what use is grid solar when it cannot be stored. All it does is jack up the cost of electricity as the fast response gas needs to kick in as the sun goes down and the low cost coal generation is squeezed out.

            The only place in Australia where ambient power supply makes sense is in Tasmania as it has the potential to conserve perched water and there is enough hydro generation to meet the entire demand of the state.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Well I don’t know about you Rick, but I don’t really want a zinc refinery or papermill or steel products mill in my backyard or even my street, so someone somewhere will be generating that power and sending it off somewhere to the place those industries are set up. And even if I plastered all the towers in the CBD with panels, that wouldn’t satisfy their demand. So poles and wires are here to stay. But I would like more effective use of them, and so solar parks made a lot of sense when they were looked at 10y ago and even more so now. Many of the fingered sites in Qld have excellent low cost pumped hydro sites close by, so you concern about “buffering” (I love your reckless but brave repurposing of words like this or “ambient”) is quite misplaced: they will buffer what is needed overnight, at a fraction of the cost of running OCGT. The $30 during the day will quickly encourage realignment of demand to surplus periods, as unlike your assumptions, a significant proportion of load is flexible: it doesn’t need the gold plated reliability that all of us pay for, for all of our demand. That is the real iniquity of the grid, fostered on it by the ignorant and ill-considering.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Mike Westerman stated:

            they will buffer what is needed overnight, at a fraction of the cost of running OCGT.

            This is where those who do not use solar off-grid do not understand the size of the problem. Buffer overnight – your are kidding right. You need to buffer for months on end for solar. My worst 48hours was a measly 2 hours of full sunshine. This month from 1500hrs 1st to 1500hrs 5th June the 5000GW of installed wind capacity peaked at 300MW. Sun is nearest its lowest azimuthof the year. You need a lot more than overnight buffering to avoid total relianciance on OCGT.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Yes well I guess the obvious answer to that Rick is that those off grid don’t have diversity of supply so of course need more storage.

            When you are off grid, there is no plan B, no plant down the road that is up when you are down. Furthermore, there’s no guy who decides he can make more out of curtailment than consumption. No market that rationalises behaviour to price. That is why your experience is largely irrelevant.

            You rightly point to AEMO’s expectation very soon for SA. Already SA is a net exporter. By 2022-23 it will have around 6-7GWh of pumped hydro. That will cover the evening peak charged from the enormous surplus of solar even on the cloudy days. Imports from Victoria will cover the 10pm till 8am, when exports will resume.

            The transition away from the last of the coal will come as old coal stations are replaced by solar plus pumped hydro. There is no shortage of site that could be developed for a LCOS of $70. Thermal storage for HVAC is even cheaper. Supplied by $30 solar and the days of high priced spikes is over. Household prices should never again exceed $200 with 30% storage and backup from the grid, commercial $100, industry perhaps half that depending on their ability to optimise.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Diversity of supply is a fairy tale. Weather patterns occur across Australia. To get diversity of ambient generation the entire world would need to be interconnected north to south and east to west. Again horrendously expensive costs for transmission. The PEAK output from solar across Australia today was 1792MW. That is less than 30% of installed capacity – I said the peak. There was nothing before 8am AEST and only WA after 5pm. In terms of the grid requirement at this time of year it is next to useless.

            6 to 7GWh of pumped hydro is laughable. That is 15 minutes of supply. It is negligible in terms of an energy source.

            You should do some proper analysis of what is needed rather than coming up with silly, unsupportable numbers. Have a go at understanding the linked paper. That is the depth of detail required to assess viability of ambient generation:
            If you grasp the concept, apply it to the recorded solar and wind data in Australia and come back to me with the analysis. You soon realise the Jacob’s Group report and the Finkel Report, based on it, are fairy tales – laughable naivety.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Now you make me wonder what juice you are on! Next you’ll be telling me you know this stuff because a little bloke at the bottom of your garden tells you!

            That there are significant variations in weather across quite short distances in Australia is simply a matter of fact – no need to believe in fairies – 3 octars cloud here in Brisbane, clear skies in Warwick. And you may have forgotten there is an interconnect between Cairns to Whyalla, so no challenge to get significant diversification there: almost calm in Yorke Pen, 70% at the top of the gulf, 20-30% in eastern NSW.

            Your assessment of 6-7GWh being 15min supply implies 28GW or so total demand – SA (which was my explicit reference) has never exceeded 3.3GW so you are way off. The near term issue is not critical in other regions – north Qld will be the next that will be and a pumped hydro is currently under design there. Meanwhile the Snowy is having a great year providing evening demand and balancing off against solar and wind.

            I have of course been following the eStorage project for some time. I’m not sure whether you have read the cited paper, but its central thesis is the need for interconnection as a precondition for deep RE penetration. Norway and Switzerland are nominated as key potential pumped hydro sites, particularly Norway which is increasingly interconnected to North Sea offshore wind and HV links to UK.

            What is not clear is how significant changes in energy pricing will impact on demand, including thermal storage as an alternative to electrical storage to cover the HVAC demand which is a significant proportion of commercial demand. So obdurate statements about electrical storage capacities are simply ill-informed (despite your further reference to your belief in fairies).

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Mike, at last! What took you so long?
            I do accept that you are writing for new readers probably more than for Rick, but I suspect that the years are catching up with him in a way that limits his ability to process information that is less than forty years old. It happens. Sadly even to people who were very well informed in their day.
            Great respect to you for your patience.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            You should note that the data I am processing is from June 2018. That is how far back I had to look to find 4 consecutive days when all the wind generators in Australia produced nothing. I am also an old sailor and I know a good deal about wind and weather patterns.

            An interesting, and not well known, statistic is that on average cruising sailors spend 60% of their time motoring. I am one of the few with the patience to actually sail the boat and can make the most of flukey winds. Solar also makes sense on a cruising boat in lower latitudes because it offers unlimited range and better average speed than sails alone. But being retired I have the time and am not driven by budgets or schedules – unlike a modern economy.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Sorry, Rick, but your assertion is not evidence, let alone proof. You will need to provide a link to a credible source, such as BOM, before I believe you that there has been no power output from wind turbines across the whole of Australia for four days straight.
            Wind Turbines are generally sited in hilly or coastal locations.
            Total absence of anabatic and catabatic winds, and of sea winds, nation wide for four days?
            I do NOT think so.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            I can do better than BOM data. This link shows the actual wind generation in the NEM network for June 2018. Look at Saturday 2nd through to Tuesday 5th:
            Next to nothing over the entire 4 days from the entire 5222MW fleet.

            If a system design was based on 30% capacity factor it would have anticipated 150GWh from wind over those 4 days. That is 116GWh more than the wind produced. So to make up the shortfall there would need to be at least a 116GWh battery. That is 1000 times bigger than the Hornsdale Samsung/Tesla battery. AND that only suits a 1700MW demand.

            To scale this up to the NEM current average demand designing on a CF of 30% you would build 87GW of wind generators. That then needs a 1.9TWh battery to ride through the 4 days of low wind. That is 15,800 Hornsdale Power reserves. Some might suggest this is easy with pumped storage but Australia simply does not have the availability of suitable perched water sites to achieve this level of storage.

            Bear in mind I have only used the current month.This is not the worst case. Look at June 2017:
            The output over the entire month only exceeded 30% for brief periods and yet all the reports are based on CFs of 30% or higher – those reports are fairy tales disconnected from reality.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Rick – you now realise that I’m not clairvoyant or believe in fairies, but I don’t believe in solid engineering practice. Engineering is based on failure and we study it to death. We only avoid it to the extent that the consequences outweigh the cost. Averages are merely another statistical measure, along with statistically significant deviations from it. We certainly do not design for no failures: that would be an expensive mistake. Failures to supply power (what used to be called VOLL but now is called “unmet energy”) is an intentional design limit, and if customers need better than the design criteria, they have to source it themselves. Hence hospitals spending big on UPS at the bedside.

            Another statistical measure we use is diversity across populations, hence the complete irrelevance of your anecdotal experience off grid – it is literally meaningless in design of the grid, and how much reserve it needs. The fact you could find (and I’m not for a moment agreeing you have) 4 days of dead calm across the whole of the NEM is merely another criteria that may or may not result in any measures being taken to meet the shortfall in a system with a diversity of supply, including sadly, for many years to come, large inefficient, unreliable, inflexible lignite plants! As AEMO found last summer, it wasn’t hard to find 6GW of curtailable demand at very attractive prices – it’s part of the demand-supply mix. There is nothing sacrosanct about supply, since all the will in the world to make sure there is enough, is quickly and regularly undone by the impossibility of keeping the poles and wires live, just as you will find with your offgrid set up the day the ripple capacitors in the inverter shit themselves, or a panel delaminates and causes a rooftop fire or any number of other minor catastrophes possible on an isolated system with little if any redundancy.

            So since this whole supply-demand thing is so dynamic -long gone are the Communist State like central planning days of ECNSW, QEC and SECV – the best way forward is progressive and empirical. Hopefully a change of government might allow this to happen, with a lower cost of transition impact than the sloth currently conducting the show, and we might see capacity auctions for storage, while prices continue to drop in the intermittent supply side, and demand starts a serious move towards daytime dominant periods.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Unlike you I do believe in solid engineering practice. Hopium is for dreamers.

            Secondly you only need to open the link I provided to see there was next to nothing produced from all the wind turbines in Australia for 96 hours during the first week of June this year and that is in no way unusual. There are some entire months with next to nothing. With regard to solar you can almost count on getting 2 hours full sunshine in 48 hours anywhere from Adelaide to Cairns – probability 99.9%.

            Actually the evidence I gave at the Industry Commission enquiry into Energy Generation and Distribution was a factor in opening the grid to competition in generation. That was in early 1990s. I was the large user representative on the first committee for the market operating system. It began the process of enabling a competitive market in power generation that challenged the State power monopolies. I dealt with the State Authorities at technical and pricing level on a regular basis for some years prior to that.

            Since the mid 90s power prices declined as that market system worked. It was the beginning of a true free market in power generation in Australia.

            The RET has destroyed the free market. So-called semi-scheduled generation has near unbridled access to the market on extraordinarily favourable terms that no schedule generator enjoys and intermittency has destroyed the economics of low cost power generation. The NEM is now stuck in a high cost regime, solely reliant on significant gas plant to keep lights on, that cannot compete with home made and stored electricity.

            Your hopes are simply that. Wishful thinking with a dose of pixie dust. As the Weatherill government found out – people do not want to pay exorbitant prices for unreliable electricity that they can provide for themselves at lower cost and more reliably. They do not know or care how it is made. They just want the power to run their air-conditioner when it is hot along with a few other necessities of modern life.

            With regard to my off-grid system I have multiple low cost inverters with redundant capacity. Believe it or not I built my first industrial inverter in 1975 so I do not hesitate to open them up and make repairs if required. My aim with my off-grid system is to assess the long term reliability of lithium batteries. When I purchased them they were new technology; literally no one would supply them in preference to Lead/Acid for off-grid applications. Five years on and prices are still higher than I paid so lithium batteries have not come down in price in AUD terms. My FIT expires in 2024 so I have plenty of time to work out the most economic option as that approaches.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Rick you try to extrapolate a single experience of your offgrid situation to the large population that is the grid, you try to extrapolate a small sample of wind data to the average over time, you try to force every element on the grid to meet every demand – where, dear fellow, is there a shread of evidence to support your supposed belief in solid engineering when you repeated display such ignorance of its principles?

            And the so called “free market” operated so long as externalities were ignored, and there was little competition from alternatives, few generators and networks given a free ride in ROA. All that has changed with the challenge from millions of generators, and a shift in the relative value of capacity and energy. Externalities are being priced in despite the stop start nature of Fed policy to do so. Abbott ensured that there was a sufficiently long investment pause in solar that coal closures enabled generators to put upward pressure on wholesale prices at the same time that the wash thru of incredible over investment in networks was also imposed on the market. The RET did was it was meant to do: bring forward investment in solar and the urgent retirement of unreliable end of life plant, but there is nothing surer to make a mess of a market then contravailing policies.

            I can well imagine the average consumer doing their own repairs on their homebuilt inverter and keeping a few spares to boot! That really sounds like solid engineering principles! I commend your efforts to do your own thing, sail your boat without motoring, even tear the bark of ironbarks with your bare hands if that’s how you get off. Quite clearly, even a thousand households such as your own are not going to supply the few 100MW for a metal refinery, and they will sensibly go for large scale solar with storage. The CBD will likewise purchase thru the market, and will hope for a reliable sustainable supply, which they will get as the transition from coal and gas with wasteful spinning reserve, to intermittent RE with thermal, hydro and battery storage.

            But your logic of trying to extrapolate the one to the many is misguided. That it comes from someone technically literate is appalling. Meanwhile, without the advice of fairies, or pinches of pixie dust or whatever else you may be imbibing, I will focus on getting cost effective storage in big slabs out into the market!

          • Rick 2 years ago

            I am not extrapolating a single experience. I have clearly demonstrated why designs based on capacity factors are highly flawed. You have provided NOTHING that counters that fact. You stated you do not believe in solid engineering practice – I do. You cannot run an economy on hopium.

            The only way smelters can survive in Australia is to be closely coupled to a coal power station like BSL in Queensland. Work out how many wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and pumped storage systems are needed to supply 900MW 24 hours a day 365 days a year to keep pots going. Idling aluminium potlines is a road to ruin for any smelter. AND don’t base any design on capacity factors. Take the run time data for your actual energy collection from existing ambient generating sources and scale however you like. When you look at real situations you realise supplying continuous power on this scale is fantasy.

            Tomago was idled last week to keep lights on in NSW and that will take weeks to months to ripple through before it is back to routine operation. My bet is Tomago is next to go but if BassLink has more issues it could be Bell Bay.

            China is taking over aluminium smelting for Australia. They will use Australian coal to make low cost electricity to turn Australian bauxite into aluminium. They are sensibly abandoning their improbable efforts to run their economy on sunshine.
            For all of their efforts solar provides a trivial portion of their power requirements.

            The grid has certainly changed. The RET has tripled wholesale electricity price in just 5 years. That is why home made power is now economic with the grid and will always remain so while ambient grid sources are subsidised into the market on unfair terms.

            There was no commercially available Lithium battery packs when I did my installation. They are coming but at twice the price I can do my own batteries. These commercial units are already economic in SA against grid power. For the price of a medium car you can be free of the grid for 20 years or more; maybe lifetime if the latest battery technology achieves their promise.

            Your big slabs of storage are trivial in terms of the storage needed to support ambient generation in any meaningful way. Australia will remain dependent on high cost gas until the grid is dead.

          • RobertO 2 years ago

            Hi Rick, Your on the wrong site Go to STT there you will have more supporters whom believe in the horse and cart, so much cleaner than a motor car.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Rick – trying to tie your own off grid experience to what may happen for the whole grid, or trying to create a case out of one (or a few) periods of calm for rubbishing any contribution of wind to the network, is by definition extrapolation, and unsafe given the minute sample size. Statistics 101.

            You seem to have this obdurate belief that unless an energy source can guarantee supply all the time it’s useless. Well, news break, no plant has 100% availability, which is why we diversify across a range of technologies. Wind makes a contribution when it is available, which on average is about 25-30% of the time. If that’s enough to make the economics work then there’s no reason no to use it. Economics 101.

            A significant amount of aluminium smelting is by countries with cheap gas, particularly gas that is burned off to recover oil. Hydro also makes a significant contribution, given it’s low cost and high availability. When coal pays appropriate compensation for the damage it does, it won’t be the economical choice. Australia’s smelters are in trouble because they’re too small, and global glut of capacity probably won’t reduce until electric vehicles push up demand. China’s investment in capacity has little to do with cost, and a lot to do with national security and regional politics.

            I’m not sure on what absurd basis you proclaim the biggest source of energy on earth as being an “improbable” possible source. I guess there are those out on the water who think your sailing without motoring is an “improbable” means to proceed. You and I know that “improbable” is a dismissive pejorative employed by the dull to dismiss something they don’t understand or don’t wish for spurious reasons to embrace.

            What is improbable, on all the evidence, is that the RET has tripled the price of energy – this lie is only still bandied about by those with an axe to grind – maybe including those who see their sand castles washed away by the tide.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Mike Wesrterman stated:

            You seem to have this obdurate belief that unless an energy source can guarantee supply all the time it’s useless.

            Clearly I do not have that belief because I run most of my household load using off-grid solar energy which is a long way short of “supply all the time”. I have an acute awareness that our fridge and freezer needs to stay powered most of the time because the loss of the contents would be a few hundred dollars. I design a system with a high level of reliability because the consequence of unreliability are expensive. Knock the air conditioners off in any supermarket for 1 hour and all the chilled stock is lost.

            The poor understanding of the nature of ambient energy sources leads to simplistic performance and cost estimates being based on unconstrained capacity factors and diversity of sources. When someone mentions CFs and diversity I know then need to buy a clue.

            Use of unconstrained capacity factors grossly underestimates the actual energy collection capacity requirement.

            Diversity of ambient energy sources somehow smoothing out the supply is simply a myth when applied to the limited geographic spread of the NEM; essentially all in the one time zone on the east coast of an island in the Southern Hemisphere.

            The level of output that can be relied on for any combination of wind and solar at any point in time across the entire NEM is precisely ZERO. That means it has to be 100% backed up by scheduled generation. The choices are gas, hydro or battery. Coal and nuclear are ruled out because of their limited ramp rates.

            Apart from the fundamental errors in estimates based on CFs and diversity, there is the naive belief that adding wind and solar that have demonstrably lower LCOE than any other form of power generation will lead to lower power costs. The reason this fails is because there is no allowance for the fact that wind and solar need 100% backup. Once that gets into the equation the cost skyrocket even before allowing for actual run time output rather than CFs and no significant generating diversity across the NEM. I can guarantee solar will not be present at midnight but I cannot guarantee it will be present anywhere across the NEM at midday.

            The publication you linked to earlier promotes South Australia as the reference region for the highest uptake of ambient energy supply. What is does not point out is that it has total dependence on a high capacity link to Victoria to keep the lights on and freezers running. Without the link, the wind generators would be system constrained much more frequently and the 40% market share would not be possible. Essentially Victoria acts as a 600MW battery of infinite capacity for South Australia to get 40% market share from its ambient sources. That link has enabled the state to transfer its power generation intermittency to Victoria and forced the early closure of Hazelwood, driving up the costs in Victoria.

            The evidence of the three fold increase in wholesale price of electricity clearly points to the connection of ambient generation. The mechanism is quite clear; transfer payments from poor consumers to subsidise ambient generation; increasing level of intermittency that drives out low cost slow response coal and replaces it with high cost fast response gas and then a myriad of grid enhancements to cater for numerous sources of intermittent power generation that can go from nothing to full capacity in minutes at distribution level and in hours across the entire NEM.

            Correlation does not imply causation but I have already provided the mechanism for dramatic power price increases caused by the connection of ambient sources:

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Are you not aware that SA is now a net EXPORTER of electricity?
            Or that Norway is powered almost entirely by wind?
            It seems that your monomania has blinded you to the evidence that surrounds you that wind power, while variable and some times very low, is most of the time a very significant contributor to Australia’s electricity supply.
            What do you hope to gain from your rather boring and incoherent tirade against wind?
            Please tell us, what is your objective?

          • Rick 2 years ago

            My objective is for people who need electricity in their lives to understand why power prices in Australia are skyrocketing and take control by making and storing their own wherever possible.

            While ever the grid is increasing the market share of ambient generation it will have higher costs than any residence with a sun exposed roof can achieve.

            South Australia is relying on Victoria right now at 10:30am 12th June importing 65MW. It exports intermittency that has cost Victorian consumers very dearly. The rest of the country supports the madness in SA financially through transfer payments for the excess LGCs produced in that region and the high cost of exported intermittency. Fortunately South Australians have voted for sanity over madness.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Ok – let’s pick apart the inaccuracies and weakness in your position shall we?

            You state the fridge and freezer “needs to stay powered most of the time” – categorically wrong. Your fridge and freezer need to remain power some of the time because of a decision make by an engineer on insulation thickness, and lack of thermal storage – all cost benefit decisions that hold only because of assumptions about cost of power vs cost of higher performance made quite some time ago. Yet you stake your claims on old and irrelevant beliefs. With almost 50% of energy use going into heating and cooling processes, the same weakness exists in the decisions made along time ago that are unlikely to be relevant today. And yet you stubbornly base for scepticism on this basis.

            “Use of unconstrained capacity factors grossly underestimates the actual energy collection capacity requirement.” I don’t even know what this means in English. But if it means you can’t use averages to design the installed capacity, then no-one has said you could – I have said repeatedly that to meet the energy requirement needs an assessment of more than CFx nameplate rating, since electricity demand is not inelastic relative to price, price and elasticity varying during the day, storage elements can shift these around, and any plant that can deliver energy economically (ie get the hurdle IRR) can provide a source for storage elements, so discounting the value of high availability.

            Your assertion on no diversity across the NEM in “ambient sources” (I think I’m correct in saying I’ve never heard a power engineer use that term – it’s pretty meaningless even in an ironic sense) is simply wrong, and your attempts to use select winds when output coincides across the NEM is merely ignorance on your part of the basic elements of statistics. It’s a bit like arguing that the stopped clock is a good indicator of the time because it’s correct twice a day. Simply stupid talk.

            Asserting that wind and solar need 100% backup follows on as a stupid remark. Just as thermal plants, with their variable availability have never needed 100% back up, neither does any other plant. Reserve, including spinning reserve and fast response reserve needs to cover the largest generator unit (or inter-related group), and other reserve need only cover the probabilistic generation lost for the time this is anticipated up to the point that the value of lost load exceeds the cost of the reserve. Loads are curtailed frequently, and those whose costs are thereby increased would reasonably examine their cost effective options. There are no absolutes here, just cost benefit analysis.

            So SA does not, as you state, have “a total dependence on a high capacity link to Victoria” – Heywood is not even rated to provide more than a fraction of SA minimum demand, and is frequency bound by voltage and stability restrictions. SA is putting in place provisions to increase the redundancy of its supply, and the various pumped hydro schemes being developed will do so at a fraction of the cost of gas, and often competitive with Vic supply. Victorian supply is not in any sense infinite, and certainly not as far as supplying SA – if the price is lower for supply from Vic of course SA should take advantage of that, and vice versa – that is the essence of a market!

            Lastly, I’m glad you make the admission that correlation doesn’t imply causation, as that defeats your stupid assertion re solar and wind causing the rise in cost of domestic supply in Australia, which is so easily refuted. But even your use of the misleading graph does itself no favours: Germany and Denmark have some of the highest taxes on energy supply, which largely explains their power prices. However, the causation theory is shattered by the enormous difference in the spread of sources in each country, with Germany still dominantly lignite and nuke, while Denmark is mostly renewable. Even superficial examination would show the high prices, largely driven by tax, is for Germany to try to retire it very polluting and destructive lignite, and in Denmark to speed its transition to zero emissions.

            I think at that that unless you can be more honest and coherent in your posts, I will hereafter hang up my hat.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Rick – another reason why your narrow focus and range of solutions is inadequate: see http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/180603_GSR_2018_Highlights_D_2.pdf. Almost half our energy use in heating and cooling, where storage over days is cheap. The ME with significant investments already in centralised reticulated chilled water systems, is now adding solar powered chilled water storage, something that in most other places is almost non-existent. Likewise transport: a minority requires scheduled recharging and so adds, along with thermal storage, to flexible load scheduling to maximise the advantage of drawing on intermittent supply.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Last time I looked, 30% did not equal zero.
            And it is ridiculous to imply that because in your off grid all your storage is batteries, in the wider market all storage must be from batteries. Multiple small PHES facilities are on the way, and even if Snowy 2 proves to be a white elephant, small systems, linked to wind and solar installations, wI’ll do very nicely.
            Your setup is a sample of one. You have zero statistical significance.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Hettie – you have not read what I wrote or opened the link I provided. You saw the 30% and responded to that. The average wind output from 5222MW of installed capacity across Australia over 96 hours from Saturday 2nd June to Tuesday 5th June was 34GWh. That is a capacity factor of a miserable 6.7%.

            That demonstrate the mythical nature of diversity. South Australia managed 5% capacity factor over those same 4 days. So the contribution from diversity is negligible.

            The fundamental flaw in the Jacobs Group report (and clearly Mike Westereman’s thinking) is that they are basing power output and storage estimates on a capacity factor of 30% or higher based on the myth of diversity; not on 6.7% over 4 days or even lower over longer periods if you want to meet reliability requirements of a modern economy.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            You are as annoying as a blowfly. Please go away.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Hettie – Your intelligent response informs me of your capacity to analyse and accept data that does not meet your ill informed beliefs.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Rick I think you may have just tried sarcasm! I can see tho’ why a bright spark like Hettie is reaching for the Mortein!

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Thanks, Mike.

          • RobertO 2 years ago

            Hi Hettie, Rick want to argue that the CF of Wind and Solar is something you look at for a short time frame, but CF are based an annual supply so his argument is cow poo.

            But then again the Reliability Factor for Wind and Solar is about 90 (+) and when you look at coal it in the area of about 53 %. In simple terms coal is cow poo.

            As for a coal ask “How much Water do Coal Power Stations use?”

            PHES uses about 3-5 % of that water (some systems will use even less.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            On a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being sane and relevant, I would rate Rick at 1.
            I am amazed and humbled that Mike Westerman has been so patient with his nonsense.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            Rick has admitted he was involved in setting up the NEM.
            That is a good indication of his sanity and relevance.
            We have him to thank for the, plain to foresee for any sane person, energy disaster that we are now facing.
            How any one could think that multiple retailers in the name of competition, with their call centres and churn costs, would be a good thing is beyond me.
            The ex head of ETSA, Bruce Dignam, often writes into the Mudrake Advertiser asserting the retailers are an unnecessary, expensive complication.

          • RobertO 2 years ago

            Hi Rod, The idea works, it just that the retailer have all realise that when you sell a product you need to sell it at the most amount of profit you can make, not as was in the good old days when you were out just to make a profit. Why sell a 250 gm jar of honey for $2.50 when you can sell it for $10.00, and some retailers are selling that 250 gm jar for $15.00 (best I have seen was $61.00 per kg and people pay that price).
            We as in us consumers are being taken for a ride by Coal and Hydro and given that we send a lot of gas overseas, that no longer cheap.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            The not insignificant costs of advertising, running call centres, discounting to limit churn etc. has to be paid by someone. And that is usually the residential customer. I’m yet to be convinced that competition per se has reduced prices enough to compensate.
            Back in the good ol’ days all that side of the business had to do was send out an invoice.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            ”How any one could think that multiple retailers in the name of competition, with their call centres and churn costs, would be a good thing is beyond me.”
            Rod, I’m sorry but I have to disagree on this one (as things stand). Personally, I would have preferred if the whole grid was still State owned, but it isn’t so we have to deal with the retailers… That being said, the churning is what makes life worth living 😉 Anyone who does NOT churn is costing themselves money and needs to wake up. I’m NOT talking about using ‘Compare the market’ or that other money sucking leech web site (who themselves are part of the reason prices are rising) instead…
            Use the free Govt web sites to do your churning. You can’t beat the price, and there are no commercial incentives to push a particular retailer AND… every retailer is listed (unlike some other comparison sites which do not list them all). As an example, see:
            This one will even PAY you $50 just to use the site, which is opposite of the others, who [mostly] do not indicate how much commission they earn on each referral.
            So, that is my reasoning for being happy about multiple retailers. I recently switched from Red Energy (owned by Snowy Hydro) to Alinta (Singapore owned I think). I lowered my [flat rate] kWh cost from 29.9c to 18.6c (after discounts). Without churning, this would not have been possible.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            I’m happy to agree to disagree.

            Here in SA with limited retailer options and solar, I’ve done the sums. For both my Mother (switch to the Origin State Government discount scheme) and myself (AGL to Origin) the difference worked out to $17 and $15 respectively on our most recent bills.

            Ideally for solar owners you would need to look at every bill for the last year to see if you are ahead or not (depending on generation amounts) TBH for that amount I CFB with the hassle of switching. However if Solar Shop were to come to SA, I would switch in a heartbeat. 100% RE

            Now, a hypothetical. If every residential user were to switch to the cheapest plan, what would happen to prices?

            It is called a lazy tax, as those who are lazy (me) pay extra for those who find the best deal.

            My argument is, that if all “discounts” were removed and retailers and their associated costs weren’t loaded onto consumers, prices would fall for everyone.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            ”Now, a hypothetical. If every residential user were to switch to the cheapest plan, what would happen to prices?”
            if you are a retailer, and everyone is churning to a cheaper retailer, what would you do? The answer is simple… You would do everything in your power to drop prices lower than your competition to keep your existing customers, or to gain new ones.

            Looking at your spreadsheet it appears you could be receiving a credit for between $47.92 and $337.23 which is a substantial difference. (I presume you are with AGL, based on your numbers ?) And, you appear to have a PFIT (good for you) BUT…
            A peak price of $0.3675 (min) to $0.38 (max) is incredibly high (approx 20% higher than me, before I deduct my 43% discount) so are you telling me there are no cheaper options than what you are indicating ? Please give me your postcode so I can have a look myself.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            On the first point. It would never happen and if by some miracle it did the only cost cutting retailers can do is removing discounts. Their only overhead in the old World was reading meters and printing invoices. In the new World it also involves advertising, separate IT systems, call centres etc. All of which are loaded onto bills.

            I should have explained the spreadsheet. The top two are my Mother’s comparison. The bottom two mine. The high price is due to being in SA.

            I’ll gladly give you my postcode and last bill details if you want to shop around for me 😉

            I had a quick look at the Yourenergy site yesterday and they don’t even have the option of putting in your export amount. There are some lower rates but usually counteracted by lower FiTs I export much more than I use so the FiT rate is important.

            Also I’ve read some pretty awful reviews about simplyenergy which was a hopeful, money wise.

            Anyway, if you have the energy, 5088. Solar. Offpeak water, no gas, and very low use. 4kWh/day most of the year.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            G’Day Rod. I don’t have much energy left, but I burned a few watts having a look for you… Here:
            Selected SA, TOU plan, Controlled load, 2 people, no pool… and what I received was 3 plans from Momentum which all included a ‘demand’ charge which you probably don’t have.
            The results are horrible:
            We’ve found 3 offers that meet your criteria, ranging from $1,869 to $1,938.
            I have a simple solution for you… MOVE TO VICTORIA 😉
            In a similar search here, I get over 100 plans to choose from, but I’m on a flat rate, no controlled load. 2 People, and I use about 10kWh/day.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            “The results are horrible:” Yup.
            Another reason I am keen to see Powershop come to SA.
            “MOVE TO VICTORIA” I’m not sure things are that dire.

            I was joking asking you to shop for me but thanks for your efforts.
            I’ll have a closer look at Momentum when I get a chance.
            Apparently some are changing July 1 so I might leave it until then.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Not long to wait. Two weeks. And four days to the winter solstice.
            Maximum tomorrow here a whole big seven degrees. And filthy wind to make it feel like zero.
            But sunny, so the house will be warm.
            Hope you find a decent pricing plan. Seems like Powershop is the only company with absolutely transparent rates. But not in SA yet. Do you have Energy Locals? I believe they are very good too, but maybe only in NSW and Qld.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            Yes, life gets better for us sun harvesters after the solstice.
            Coincidentally I have 6.5MW going on a rental on that day. Hopefully the weather defies its usual practice on the solstice. When I was working and a bike commuter it was invariably a very dirty day.

            We used to have a trombe wall. A glass filled in veranda really, that would heat the living end on sunny days but we got built out last year.

            So the heat pump is getting a bit of use of late ;-(

            It appears energy locals are working on it but not here yet. Powershop were tipped to come as part of the Labor VPP. Who knows what the Lieberals will do.

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            6.5 MW?!
            What is your rental, a shopping centre?

            Climate here is, or has been, very different from SA. Most rain in summer, winters dry , sunny and cold. But in recent years June has been miserable, overcast and drizzly. July and August still sunny and bloody freezing, but much less freezing than even 20 years ago, when minimums could be minus 15°, maximums plus 16°.
            Now the worst frosts are about minus 8°.
            That’s a BIG change. BUT the sunny days help with panel output, and hence the budget.
            Here’s hoping for you that one or both of Powershop and Energy Locals will get to SA.
            Stay warm.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            LOL, oops, kW of course.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Thanks Hettie. I can picture Rick on his boat, like Job, cursing god but saying he’s enjoying himself. At least now I understand his Quixotic fixation on windmills.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Mike – How do you know I have a boat?

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Clearly the moderator did not like the facts that countered their beliefs. Also missing is this from Hettie:

            Sorry, Rick, but your assertion is not evidence, let alone proof. You will need to provide a link to a credible source, such as BOM, before I believe you that there has been no power output from wind turbines across the whole of Australia for four days straight.

            Turbines are generally sited in hilly or coastal locations.

            Total absence of anabatic and catabolic winds, and of sea winds, nation wide for four days?

            I do NOT think so.

            My reply was simply the data shown on this link:
            And calculations demonstrating the national grid would need 15,800 Horsdale Power Reserves to ride through those 4 days from 2nd-5th with little to no wind.

          • Giles 2 years ago

            Mate, moderator hasn’t touched your comments because that’s me and moderator hasn’t opened his laptop for last two days.
            Probably you hit the wrong button and deleted yourself and then decided to blame someone else – bit like your approach to energy.
            Found Hettie’s missing comment in spam, for reason not explained. Yours neither there nor in pending, so pull your head in regarding the unfounded accusations.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Tell me how Mike knows I have anything to do with sailing or boats if I have not had posts deleted?

          • Giles 2 years ago

            What the hell are you talking about?

          • Rick 2 years ago

            My comment has returned with the one you reinstated. Thank you for that.

          • Giles 2 years ago

            Mate, I haven’t touched any of your comments. I think you are hallucinating.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            You will note they appear out of sequence because my mention of sailing is now after Mikes comment on sailing.

          • Giles 2 years ago

            That’s what Disqus does sometimes.
            Mate, I’ve got better things to do than dealing with your hallucinations. If you have any other complaints, you can leave.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Also why have you not reinstated Hettie’s question to me?

          • Giles 2 years ago

            Huh? I reinstated one comment i found in spam. haven’t touched any others.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            The posts that follow from Mike Westerman to Hettie are out of sequence. I am not complaining I am just pointing out the inconsistencies.

            My comment regarding sailing appears after Mike Westerman states “his boat” in reference to my sailing.

            Thank you for reinstating my comment even if out of sequence.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            Rick, the comment was about ‘a’ boat, (as in rock the boat) not specifically YOUR boat, as no-one knew you had a boat at the time. At least that’s how I see it.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Giles – I appreciate your effort to reinstate my comments. It is important people understand the size of the task and complexity to get value from ambient energy sources. I have serious concerns that designers are using Capacity Factors as the basis of design and that is simply naive when dealing with ambient energy sources.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            So 6 to 7GWh in roughly 1200MW average demand. That is 5 hours. Trivial when you look at he vagaries of wind generation. You do not need to look hard to understand the problem:
            Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday all under 10% of capacity. That is from a diverse supply of 5000MW.

            If you just look at SA the average output over those four days was less than 100MW from the 1810MW installed. So the shortfall in the region for wind was 1100MW for at least 96 hours. The storage to meet that shortfall is 105GWh – 7GWh is trivial.

            You clearly did not comprehend the Sinn paper. Using averages for capacity and consumption and trusting the miracle of diversity are the ingredients of disaster in an electricity supply system. Those are the fundamental errors in the Jacobs report that underpins the Finkel report – they are nothing but fairy tales.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Well done Rick – you’ve started reading what I write. Next you might notice the pipeline of projects across the NEM, and the rapid ongoing growth in solar, both rooftop and large scale, especially in C&I. Then you will be conclude that a massive overbuild is inevitable, since the market is so imperfect it very poor misdirects investment. Astute solar and wind investors have rightly concluded this, and so I am aware of 6GW of additional pumped hydro projects under development – in fact a volume that the industry will struggle to deliver. And that is merely scraping the edges of the potential.

            If you were bothered or interested when on anero you would have noted the diversity in supply over time across the NEM in wind output that I have already pointed out, and would have avoided the pit of ignorance that the Craig Kellys of the world delight in wallowing in, that is: wind and solar are designed and their economics based on, intermittency. CFs of 28% for wind and 25% for solar, 20% for PHES, with minimums of 10% or 0% or whatever, are not noteworthy – we assume that in the design. Just as the CF for most loads is <40% – we live in a dynamic world and design accordingly. And with modern controls and modelling, we can do so successfully. Individuals will continually make their own decisions – we need a better platform on which they can do so, without the wheels falling off or the need for belief in fairies.

          • Rick 2 years ago

            June 2018 wind data demonstrates my point precisely about diversity; the exact opposite of your fairy tale belief. There was nothing of use from 5000MW of wind across Australia over 4 days.

            You state:

            CFs of 28% for wind and 25% for solar, 20% for PHES, with minimums of 10% or 0% or whatever, are not noteworthy – we assume that in the design.

            Assuming a capacity factor in design is where the wheels fall off. The only valid basis for design is as Sinn has demonstrated where the actual run time data from the ambient sources over a period of years is used as the basis. Once you do that you begin to understand that that diversity is a myth and the buffering requirements way more than CFs suggest. If you were operating off-grid you would understand these issues.

            As far as modelling goes, AEMO openly admit they are incapable of modelling wind generation a single day ahead. Doing it over years is a hopeless task.

            The lowest cost option for ambient energy supply for individuals is solar panels on the roof and battery box behind the garage. The grid is rapidly becoming a second rate service; expensive and unreliable. It is the new public transport; the service of last resort. Those who want reliable, on-demand and stable electricity supply will make their own.

          • Joe 2 years ago

            Those NSW wholesale prices today that you mention, are they not the result of Coal generation having gone AWOL?

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Yes. Something like 7 GIGAWATTS of coal tripped out. On Friday. And on came the gas to make up the shortfall. If not for the wind and solar, there would have been blackouts.
            Do NOT expect to read or hear about this in the Murdoch media or on ABC.

          • Joe 2 years ago

            I haven’t read or seen anything across the media…a media ‘Blackout’ of the ‘Coal Blackout’

          • Rick 2 years ago

            Coal generation is an unloved and dying asset in Australia. Sadly the lights go out when the inevitable lack of maintenance shows its dark side. That is the reason to take charge of your energy and get off the grid. Grid supply in Australia is a disaster unfolding.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            God Rick, you sound like you go to bed with a bag of coal! Coal power stations are simply the result of engineers doing their job, with the tech and cost structures they have at the time. We design to an economic life, and many coal assets are beyond that. So we turn our attention to the technology and cost structures to hand to serve the community. The grid is way short of being finished, rather, it is in the early stages of being transformed into something different. A bit like the humble POTS was when smart mobile phones arrived. Less something to pin one’s persona on or become emotional about, more somethings to understand and spread the benefits from.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            Unloved for a very good reason… It creates pollution, warming and acidic seas + all the other well known ‘benefits’ of burning the stuff. Just what we need.

          • RobertO 2 years ago

            Hi Joe, Rick is from STT waste of time talking.

          • Joe 2 years ago

            Thanks for that. I did read the toing and froing down the page between the Rick and the Mike W. and started to wonder what was going on here.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            What is STT ?

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            Rick you are talking about the past… As we all know, there is no new PFIT any more, so your claims of people rorting the system are false. Also poorer people are more likely to have solar than the richies, so if anyone is paying you to rort, it is the richies not the poories. As for the wholesale price of $2600/MWh that is more than I pay for my power at the retail level, so who is getting rorted here ? Not me that’s for sure. I’m paying 18.6c/kWh (while I wait for my solar to be installed). If the retailers are dumb enough to pay spot prices, and don’t have PPA’s with solar or wind farms, (at around $50/MWh) then they are nothing but idiots.
            Your comments remind me of that shock jock moron in Sydney, Abbott, Frydenberg, and all the other anti solar people of Australia, which is very surprising given you are boasting about your PFIT. If you were so concerned (with rorting the poor people), you would surrender your PFIT and come back to Earth like the rest of us. (Except Victorians who might be in a 50% PFIT position in a couple of weeks)…

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            What bugs me is the delusion that any of this will reduce CO2 output.
            Your solar and off grid usage is, in its own small way helping to reduce the CO2 output, so I don’t understand why you would say such a thing.
            Multiply that small amount by 1.8m households with solar, and the CO2 reduction is significant.
            I’m confused by the delusion… Maybe I have Altziemers 😉

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            No, Greg, I’m pretty sure that you are not the one with Alzhiemers. Not at all sure about Rick.

          • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

            “…when dealing with intermittents. They have to be buffered.”

            Yes, that’s what HPR is for, among other things. Most variations in renewable output are relatively small and transient, well within the ability of Hornsdale to cover.

            “…fast response gas must displace low cost coal for every bit of intermittent capacity added.”

            If this is true, why don’t we see it happening?

            “Just go back to the first 5 days of June and see how much all those wind turbines produced.”

            There was no wind at all over the whole of Australia? Really? And what did solar do for those five days?

            “Basically Australia has to maintain a backup fossil generator … and it has to stay hot even if not generating….”

            All the fossil backup generators would have to stay hot only if Australia didn’t have those wonderful things called “weather forecasts”. I’m in the US, but I assume that you have forecasts. The predicted weather allows a range of predictions for what renewable output will be. Will wind speeds be in the range of 10 to 15 KPH or 30 to 35 KPH? Will the day be sunny, partly cloudy, or overcast? “Hot reserve” generators would only be required for the difference between the high and low estimated renewable output. The rest of the fossil backup can be in “cold reserve” which as the name implies doesn’t use any fuel.

            “Germany is proof of that.”

            Germany is proof that political opposition by coal interests can slow the transition to renewables.

            “A buffered ambient energy system cannot produce enough energy over its lifetime to replicate itself.”

            False. A wind turbine or photovoltaic system can produce enough power to pay back its “energy debt” in five years or less, depending on where it is located. PV panels have been known to last productively for FORTY years, wind turbines for at least twenty-five.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            A bit like the motor car destroying the economics of my grandpa’s stable of draught horses…

            If you were genuinely interested in economics, you wouldn’t have been in favour of a network predicated on significant amounts of spinning reserve and redundancy in poles and wires as your strict economics outlook would have been driven towards purely user pays, with each party only paying for what was of value to them, rather than network wide reliability standards.

            And now, your interests would again be biased towards those who want reliability paying for it explicitly, with energy at the lowest possible cost. But clearly you see beyond mere economics and towards a broader view of amenity. In this context, of course the environment and the amenity of a habitable earth for our children is a consideration.

          • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

            OK, I’ll bite… If you removed this ‘intermittent’ generation from the grid, where would all the extra power required come from ?

        • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

          If you add an EV into the mix, the demand increases exponentially !

      • Peter G 2 years ago

        Network costs are not 60% or any particular a fixed proportion of retail price – for the most part they are set at an arbitrary charge based on regulatory interpretation OPEX and CAPEX. In a free market less demand will result in a lower clearing price until the marginal cost of production is reached – in such a case return on CAPEX will be zero. This happens in most other sectors and there is a strong case that the value of our gold plated network should be written down. Because our grid has not been written down today’s poor renter down the road is paying for yesterdays gold plated McMansion up the street.

        Australia’s high grid cost has nothing to do with Solar PV.

        • Rick 2 years ago

          For the poles and wires it is a regulated amount. The asset owners have to jump through hoops to get spending plans approved. The only competition is from defection as there is only one set of wires past any property.

          There is constant pressure on the transmission and distribution owners to increase maintenance. Some transformers and switch gear were purchased from Noah. Numerous bushfires and loss of lives have been blamed on faulty poles and other hardware. Wind generators expect to have connection points. New subdivisions, where there is heaps of rooftop, now have peak generation dictating the design. Likewise existing assets need to upgraded to take the peaky generation from solar; people get upset when their expensive solar system is shutting down on over voltage. In Victoria there was the 100% rollout of Smart Meters.

          So lots of valid reasons for the asset owners to get their 5 year plans approved with a regulated rate of return. Call it gold plating but if you had experienced loss of family member or friend in a bush fire started by a faulty pole you may use a different term.

          The only competition is from grid defection.

  6. howardpatr 2 years ago

    The AEMO’s boss, Audrey Zibelman, needs to get to work and ensure this bullshit from the usual political suspects and people with undeclared vested financial interests is comprehensively dealt with, (in bold print), in the the report it is delivering next week with ENA.

    • john 2 years ago

      Very true as i wrote above it is taken care of not an issue.

  7. john 2 years ago

    My take on this
    quote “The networks, initially, for convincing the regulator to allow them to spend tens of millions of dollars on IT systems and research, and further out because they might see a role for themselves in aggregating this demand and playing in the wholesale or grid services market.”

    It would take about 1 hour for a competent programmer to write the code to look at the issue.
    This is total rubbish end of story.
    As to how to manage the inputs of power from those awful roof tops it is easy they are stopped at the nearest substation unless they have not spent “millions of Dollars for some IT systems and research ”
    GIVE Me a break

    • John Herbst 2 years ago

      *hundreds of millions of dollars on IT. Each.

  8. Ken Dyer 2 years ago

    So in other words. it’s bullshit.
    I expect nothing less from the knuckle dragging, right wing media that is stuck in the 20th Century wrapped around the fossil fuel industry.
    Australia wake up, you are being conned!

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      You are too kind to them. They are stuck in the 19th century.

    • solarguy 2 years ago

      Of course it’s bullshit. Remember, the first casualty of war is the truth!

  9. Chris Fraser 2 years ago

    REaders and rooftop owners … if you put nothing out there on the grid you can’t be wrongly vilified for creating, or adding to, the so-called voltage problem. All that remains to be blamed is DNSP incompetence. Find your battery and sell them nothing.

    • MaxG 2 years ago

      Yep; I am ready for this!
      No FiT of sort; or higher base fees and I am gone…

      • Chris Fraser 2 years ago

        Max does the Selectronic let you select the amount of energy outgoing to the grid, or is it already fixed ?

        • MaxG 2 years ago

          AFAIK it is limited to whatever the factory setting was on order; new SPP inverter/chargers can be limited by the authorised installer… but does not have to be (unless the network operator demands it).

          My set-up is a bit more sophisticated (as I managed [in very simple terms] to hack it) so that I can control anything I’d like.
          E.g. I can control the inverters to produce more (not exceeding the hard-coded limit) or less as I want. E.g. heat the HWS with anything left over the 5kW I export to the grid.

          I can probably answer more specifically once I understand what you’d like to achieve. I can be contacted on mxgrnkwtz on gmail.com if you like.

  10. Phil NSW 2 years ago

    Given the proponents of this story have a vested interest in their story being believed it is no wonder it turned up in the usual print media culprit. As inverters are now designed to stabilise the grid and networks thrive on RE input. Squash this before it can add to the rhetoric being used to prop up those ageing FF clunkers.

  11. John Herbst 2 years ago

    Well done getting the ENA to admit that this is fake news and AS4777 has already addressed the problem. It’s sad that the networks believe that more profits can be made by stifling non-network investment than enabling consumers to invest in non-network solutions, as is envisioned under the NEM Rules. Threatening to disable technology in the future creates investment uncertainty now, keeping network costs high for another day.

    • rob 2 years ago

      Is AS4777 that plane that no one can find?

      • John Herbst 2 years ago

        there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, yes

        • rob 2 years ago

          Yes indeed there was!

  12. Prof Ray Wills 2 years ago

    This is a beat up – as Simon Holmes à Court pointed out, the AEMO evidence stated:

    … we are five or seven years from actually needing to make fundamental changes

    … we have a year or two to work out what the issues are, … and what some of those solutions are


    And as I noted: I met with AEMO in WA last year. Their WA forecast to 2022 didn’t include storage. I provided some indication of my view that they may need to remedy that situation with some alacrity. I don’t know if they did…


  13. Michel Syna Rahme 2 years ago

    Good article!

  14. oakleighpark 2 years ago

    Maybe its time to think about moving to an all DC grid where these frequency issues go away, the move to more onsite generation and battery storage reduce transmission losses and the need for a spinning reserve is reduced:-)

    • Jo 2 years ago

      I think there is a general misunderstanding about the role of the frequency. The fact that the frequency can change is not a bad, but a good thing. The variation of the grid frequency is one of the buffers that helps to keep demand and supply of electricity in balance.
      As I understand it, if there is too much demand in the system, the frequency will drop and the demand will go down because much equipment will consume less energy at a lower frequency and vice versa.

  15. Jo 2 years ago

    First they say it is too little.
    Then they say it is too much.
    Then the renewable energy will win.

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      Indeed. We are past the point where they laugh at us.
      Now they are fighting.
      Next we win.

      • solarguy 2 years ago

        We will win, but it will be a compromised win more than likely. What we have to do now is not let them get rich on the infrastructure we have paid for, by letting them gain too much control.

        What is needed is a plan that will work for all of us going forward and that starts by kicking this gov out on their arse come the next election. For if we fail to win that battle the war will rage on longer. The problem is that the average fool in the street doesn’t understand it, is apathetic to it and thinks it will all be alright in the long run and someone else with sort it.

        The IT gurus are salivating at the opportunity to make squillions out of this shit fight and they don’t give a damn about fairness for those who haven’t got the bucks to pay them!

    • solarguy 2 years ago

      They secretly always knew for the most part, most of them in any case that RE will win out. But they want control, because they smell money and they will say anything to bambozzel the situation for their gain.

      • Greg Hudson 2 years ago

        Yes. They call it FUD. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

        • rob 2 years ago

          Someone has listened to the latest podcast…lol

  16. CU 2 years ago

    Well, there is, and have been all time, a similar blackout threat from all the uncontrolled users. What if all of the users at the same time start their AC – what if all of them at the same time stop their AC – That is just NOT tolerable! All user equipment must be remotly controlled by the utilities. “You don’t want AC right know? We don’t care – we got lot of power that we want to bill you.”

  17. Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 2 years ago

    Always looking for a new angle to attack progress. Now if only voters had the brains to not fall for lies…

    • MaxG 2 years ago

      If 🙂
      Exactly where it falls over 🙁

      • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 2 years ago

        Yeah, voters voting against their own interests is apparently a human characteristic. So much for being a remotely rational species.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          Trouble is that the voters are subjected to saturation lying about where their best interests lie.

          • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 2 years ago

            Very true, but if they didn’t want lies they would easily see through them. President Orange’s lies are baldfaced for all to see but his implicit deal is accept lies and i will give you hate and easy answers (which is what his voters really want).
            Its a package deal, believe lies for the hate i can give you

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      Dream on

      • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 2 years ago

        Indeed, smart voters is a dream
        Its all about alternative facts and scapegoats.

  18. Brian Tehan 2 years ago

    The most breathtaking statement from the spokesman was that solar generation is highest in the middle of the day, “when power requirements are low”. Whaaat? Yeah when all the shops and businesses and office buildings are all burning maximum power.

    • john 2 years ago

      You are correct the old bell curve has now been supplied by mainly Solar to become a Duck Curve this has happened in every country where Solar has been put in place.
      The demand is there but it is being supplied by Solar.

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      Well, sort of. There is now roof top pv of more than 7 gigawatts in Australia. From around 15:30hrs, rolling across the country, the output from those panels starts to decline, and by the time the 9 to 5 workforce gets home at 17:30 onwards, and turns on the aircon to 12°C in a vain effort to get cool fast (why don’t they have the thermostat set at 24, the timer set to 15:00 start?), the demand peaks, and stays high until at least 22:00 hrs, long after that 7 GW of solar has gone to sleep. In a total market of 20 GW, 7 GW is very significant.

      • solarguy 2 years ago

        That’s why storage is paramount.

  19. John Goss 2 years ago

    I’d be very happy to have a box from a DSO in my house controlling the battery and when power was sent to the grid, as long as the feed-in price was higher and the price of power from the grid was lower. I’m happy to play if I’m paid.

  20. rob 2 years ago

    Off topic but why is the whole NEM pumping so much power to NSW ? The ONLY state that refuses to embrace RENEWABLES? [email protected]@k them …..let then go system black…… might teach them a lesson! Bloody dirty coal lovers!…… In the meantime we all (other states) are paying a fortune for our own generated power …….If this was S.A. they would simply turn us off! Bastards…….and blame Jay……oops he isn’t in power (pun intended) anymore.

  21. MaxG 2 years ago

    Interesting; how come nobody pulls up the distributors on the 230V they should be supplying for the last 15 years… while I see close to 260V on a daily basis.

  22. HarryDutch 2 years ago

    Solar overloading a grid on peak sunlight days is never going to be a problem. The problem with rooftop grid connected PV Solar is the Duck-Curve, already a problem in California and a problem getting worse. California now in the late afternoon when the Duck-Curve sets in, needs to import some 40% of it’s electricity from neighbouring states. Some say that’s fine as it’s the function of the interconnections. What one overlooks is that those states are also expanding their IRE generation and will have their own Duck-Curve. The big question than is, who is going to fill the gaps in demand. The storage pipe-dream…

  23. neroden 2 years ago

    “Grid assisted” solar/battery layouts where nothing is ever fed back to the grid are becoming ever more popular. No rewards for guessing why!

  24. Hettie 2 years ago

    Interesting. The latest comments in reply to the infinitely incoherent Rick, from the infinitely patient Mike Westerman, advised by Disqus, have vanished. I ask myself, has Mike at last decided that Rick’s persistent garbage is “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifing nothing?” and deleted the comments himself, or did Giles decide that, and put a stop to it?
    Please tell us.

    • Giles 2 years ago

      Thanks for heads up. Found one in spam. Disqus sometimes works in mysterious ways.

      • Hettie 2 years ago

        You are very welcome.
        I have no idea how you manage to have such a prodigious output, do the necessary research, interview people, and keep an eye on the comments!
        Do you ever sleep?

    • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

      Hettie – I think Disqus has some habit of jumbling responses, a bit like Rick jumbles his arguments, but we shouldn’t we too hard on an old salt, even if his promotion of rooftop is perverse. My last response to him is still apparent at the middle of the thread (8h ago) tho not in the order of post and response! I must say he in the end has pushed me to the end of my patience, with his perverse use of data and often self-contradictory statements.

      • Hettie 2 years ago

        Curious, because Disqus repeatedly failed to jump to the comments, and when I checked your comment history, they were not there either.
        Whatever, Rick has wasted more than enough of everyone’s time with his ramblings. He may have known what he was on about 30 years ago, but much has changed since then. He has convinced himself of a sophistry about wind, and is defending it fiercely.
        Sad, really.

        • Hettie 2 years ago

          Just checked your history again, and there it is. The one about picking his position apart.
          Disqus certainly does move in mysterious ways. But this thread is of extraordinary length. No wonder it has become tangled.
          Bedtime for old ladies.

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