No, wind output was not ‘almost zero’ at peak heatwave demand

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Ketan Joshi checks the facts on claims about the output of wind energy during peak periods.

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“When electricity demand peaked at the height of the recent heatwave in Southern Australia, the total power output from the fleet of wind farms across Victoria and South Australia was almost zero”

So wrote Viv Forbes, in an article expressing a profound distaste for renewable energy. This is an empirical claim, and I think checking the data underpinning it gives us an insight into whether his claims are based on feelpinions, or whether this claims are based on facts:

During the week of the heatwave, NEM-wide demand peaked at 33,769.54 megawatts at the Dispatch Interval 16:30 (AEST) on 16/01/2014.

At this time, the sum output of wind energy was 710.42 megawatts (about 28% of total possible output). This isn’t really ‘close to zero’. A chart of Thursday’s wind energy output:

 

 

The full data set are available in this spreadsheet, or just have a peek at the DataWrapper chartbelow, showing total operational demand (labelled “DEMAND_AND_NONSCHEDGEN” in the database – catchy, right?):

Forbes didn’t source his claim, but suspiciously, it’s worded almost precisely the same as Graham Lloyd’s claim in this article, which I covered in this blog post:

Claiming that 28% output, or 712 megawatts of electrical power, is ‘close to zero’ isn’t a stretch, really. It’s presumed no one is actually going to check when peak demand occurred, and what wind was doing at the time. You can really just make up anything you want. Supporting data? Not necessary. Feels are enough.

Source: Some Air. The author works in the wind energy industry.

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3 Comments
  1. Stan Hlegeris 5 years ago

    Australia deserves a decent national newspaper. All we have, alas, is The Australian, with the likes of Graham Lloyd as “Environment Editor.”

    • Alen 5 years ago

      Maybe asking for a ‘decent’ paper is wishing for too much today, but surely asking them to report honest facts is not asking too much is it? Hmm but then again Rupert Murdoch (and Abbott) hate “facts” as they don’t match up with their agenda.

  2. Farmer Dave 5 years ago

    Good article, thanks Ketan. I hope you or your employer are going to complain to the Press Council about Graham Lloyd’s article.

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