- JoNova - https://www.joannenova.com.au -

Solar overload — “Costs a fortune” as the super Duck Curve flood of electricity hits Australia

Ladies and Gentlemen, Australia is now romping in as Star-Crash-Test-Dummy in the renewables stake.

Proportionally, we have more uncontrolled solar roof top generators than any other nation. We’re in uncharted territory: about 20% of houses in Hawaii and California have Solar PV, but in Western Australia, it’s 25%. In Queensland it’s 30% and throughout Australia we are adding 100MW a month and it’s like a whole new coal fired station every year (except it doesn’t work most of the time).

Strap yourself in! This is more useless infrastructure than anywhere else on planet Earth. The only time solar PV panels provide something we might need is at afternoon tea time in summer when airconditioners are on. So for three quarters of the year they provide electricity when we don’t need it, and for three quarters of every day they don’t even work. The rest of the time they burn capital, increase the blackout and fire risk and sit there collecting dust and hail stones.

Electricity at the wrong time is not just wasted, it’s a burden

Too much electricity bumps up the grid frequency and voltage, potentially damaging equipment and risking blackouts. Obviously we have to “manage” this flood of green electrons. Your money or your lights.

If you like your computer, you can keep your computer. But hand over your job, the economy and your quality of life.

Welcome to the Duck Curve

Each year as more solar power arrives when we don’t need it in the middle of the day, the belly of the load curve swings lower and lower. Then as the sun fades and the peak need of the day arrives after dark the demand ramps up, and so must the supply. This peak is the ducks head. The neck of the duck is when generators must ramp up steeply to take over from the failing sun. It’s often when prices spike.

Duck Curve, Graph, Solar PV, Electricity load.

The Californian Duck Curve keeps getting fatter as more solar power arrives at noon. (Courtesy of CAISO)

The tail of the duck is the secondary peak at breakfast. The belly of the duck is noon, when otherwise profitable cheap baseload electricity infrastructure sits around and burns cash. The middle of the day is “theoretically cheap” but the rest of the day gets more expensive.

If we add more storage, we just toss more money in the pit in an attempt to flatten a curve that we created in the quest for greener electrons.

The solution, just stop, stop already!

The commentariat below are saying that at best we switch our hot water systems to “soak” up electricity we didn’t need, or buy electric cars we don’t want. Or we need fancy-pants switches to disconnect the panels, or we need to pay millions for batteries or billions for pumped hydro. Pay now, pay later, pay, pray and pay!

I say, just stop. Stop installing infrastructure we don’t need, stop subsidizing it, stop pretending we need green electrons. Stop pretending we need “storage” to solve a problem we never had. Stop buying electricity at inflated prices from generators which don’t make it when we need it. People wanting to make money selling solar power can pay for the batteries themselves.

Start spreading the costs of this pointless experiment as fairly as we can instead of dumping it on electricity consumers who don’t have solar and on taxpayers who voted against a carbon tax.

 Call it a “solar spill” — doesn’t sound so bad

Everyone seems to think this is just an unlucky accident happening because of an inevitable transition. Instead this is a slow motion train wreck — utterly predictable:

“Solar power surge is flooding the grid”

Cole Latimer, The Sydney Morning Herald

 “Solar spill”, when high levels of energy are generated by rooftop installations in the middle of the day when demand is low, is becoming a problem for Australia’s electricity networks, according to Andrew Dillon, the head of the grid representative body Energy Networks Australia.

“If this goes badly, one of three things is going to happen,” he said at an Energy Networks 2018 event on Wednesday.

“Either we get voltage and frequency issues at the local level or even localised blackouts and things tripping off.”

Or rooftop solar would have to be stopped from coming into the grid or, he said, the networks would have to spend a fortune to have the capacity to deal with it.

Electricity providers warn of massive blackouts as excess solar power during the middle of the day threatens to flood the grid

Brett Lackey, Daily Mail Australia

The best solution to soak up the excess energy and stop it from coming into the grid is by installing battery packs.

‘We have to soak up the energy somehow, battery storage is an efficient way of doing this; we can get energy recoveries of around 90 per cent,’ energy service company Greensync’s chief executive Phil Blythe said.

At the ABC this is a “success” for renewables, where Queensland is a “world leader”.

And the solutions are smart and involve the government spending even more of your money:

 Solar panel surge is overloading the electricity grid and could lead to blackouts: energy group

Ashleigh Stevenson, ABC

Mr Dillon said if the issue was not addressed, problems could occur.

“The first one is we start to get voltage and frequency issues, which can damage equipment or even localise outages,” he said.

“The second one is we have networks saying to customers wanting to connect solar, ‘No you can’t do it because we’re full’.”

Or, he said, the networks may end up having to spend a fortune to upgrade their facilities.

Some call this profligate emergency patch for our grid — “future proofing”:

Queensland Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Government had introduced several measures to future-proof the network. “We have to move the peak that we’re seeing during the middle of the day when we have solar, to that night time cooking peak, and we’re doing that,” Dr Lynham said. “The big thing we’re doing obviously is the pumped hydro, the big Wivenhoe pumped hydro storage solution. That’s 570 megawatts … that’s a coal-fired power station.

Queensland Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Government had introduced several measures to future-proof the network.

“We have to move the peak that we’re seeing during the middle of the day when we have solar, to that night time cooking peak, and we’re doing that,” Dr Lynham said. “So during the middle of the day when all the solar panels on roofs are working, we’re storing energy through pumping water up the top of the hill at Wivenhoe and at night time we’re driving it back down.”

Dr Lynham said the Government was taking a smart approach to the issue.

“We’re bringing on an interest-free loan scheme for batteries later on this year,” he said. “Instead of peaking your hot water at night when power used to be cheap, you peak your hot water during the day, you have your pool pump running during the middle of the day when the solar is on. “And also you can’t have a normal meter installed in a house — if you build a house or change your meter it must be a smart meter so all those controls are available to the household.”


h/t David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz, Pat, Ian, others Thank you.
9.8 out of 10 based on 71 ratings