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Megawatts that come and go — Wind energy, shaking up the National Grid in Australia

This postmodern art is what wind power looks like on our national electricity grid. (Like a kindergärtner on steroids). There are 35 wind farms on this spaghetti graph, spread across 6 of our 8 states and territories. They cover thousands of square kilometers and are connected in allegedly the largest electricity grid in the world. This frenetic action covers the last two weeks, and is pretty normal.

You might think the wind “averages out” across the nation.  Noooo. Some days, Australia is windy…

Wind power generation, Australian National Electricity Grid, August 2015

Graph from ANEROID ENERGY for 1 – 16 August, 2015

The total megawatts output varies as per the black line, from zero megawatts right up to 3000.

This below is a typical days national grid demand in winter. Even in the dead of night, the minimum baseload demand is 18,000MW. The nation is talking of going 26% renewable (unless it goes 50%). What could possibly go wrong!

Australian National Electricity Grid, demand, winter, graph

According to AEMO Australia has the largest interconnected electricity grid in the world covering the east coast from Port Lincoln in South Australia to Cairns in Queensland (See the green and red squiggles on the right hand side of the map below) . That’s most of the Australian population. The wind power is mostly sited in the South East – SA, VIC, and NSW.

Australian Electricity Grid, transmission lines, 2009

Australian Electricity Grid, transmission lines, 2009  | Click to enlarge

We are a windy country with wind turbines spread all around. But this big nation has big weather systems. Some days the whole grid is windy and other days, not.

Synoptic Chart of Australia, August 2015

 Australian synoptic chart August 15th 2015.

Just in case you think August is unusual. Here’s the action for July — with the spaghetti removed and the unit in megawatts.

Pity the network manager.

Wind power generation, Australian National Electricity Grid, July 2015

The whole month of July 2015 — wind power across the national grid

Graph sourced from ANEROID ENERGY.

 As Tonyfromoz has pointed out, if the Greens were serious about cutting carbon (sic) they would talk about the new ultracritical hot coal plants which can save as much as 15% of our emissions and produce reliable electricity at the same time.

Or, if say, the health of the planet was a stake, I reckon they might even discuss nukes.

h/t George and his friend on Facebook

Background on wind power

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