Would you like blackouts or floods with your Green Burger?
Here in Weather-Dependent Renewable World the chief crash test dummy is struggling because of yet another bit of terrible luck. We desperately need the only reliable renewable energy we have to generate while reliable but-badly-maintained-coal is breaking — and our national grid sits on the edge of blackouts. But Lordy No! Oh the schadenfreude — the dams are all full. Seems we have too much water thanks to the La Nina we didn’t predict, and the excess rainfall that wasn’t supposed to happen, and the dams that weren’t supposed to fill. Now if Snowy Hydro releases too much water to make electricity they may flood lower areas.
You can’t make this stuff up. Hydroelectric dams serve two purposes and sometimes they conflict. If we are lucky, we might avoid both blackouts and floods, but we won’t avoid the bonfire of electricity bills that are coming.
Ponder the impossible quandry of the Green religion. Like the Escher puzzle of Energy — It’s always the weather’s fault. If only we could use enough renewables to get perfect weather we could solve this! And perfect weather is just a hundred trillion solar panels away…
As Australia’s power crisis began to ramp up early this month, Snowy Hydro was called on to increase production.
But the hydro-electric generator remains significantly constrained by a surprising problem — too much water.
Oh woe is the journalist trying hard not to get the message about relying on weather dependent generation:
It’s only one example of how weather extremes have deepened the nation’s man-made power crisis.
Snowy Hydro’s biggest power station is Tumut 3. At maximum output, it can generate 1,800 megawatts of electricity.
The huge volumes of water used by Tumut 3 are either pumped back up the hill to an upper reservoir or emptied into Blowering Dam.
“Generation from Tumut 3 Power Station is significantly constrained by the current storage levels in Blowering Reservoir and the release capacity of the Tumut River. “In order to meet the predicted energy demands in the coming days, it is possible Blowering Reservoir will fill and spill, potentially exceeding the Tumut River channel capacity. “In this scenario, there is potential for the inundation of low-level causeways and water breaking out of the river channel onto agricultural land adjacent to the river.”
Green motto: If in doubt, blame the weather. Never ever admit it was your own arrogant damn stupidity, your fantasy plans, your lack of humility and your inability to add up.
The real world is so complicated
Ben Kefford at LinkedIn does an analysis that explains the dilemma for the generators bidding. In this case Snowy Hydro was afraid that when the Administrative price cap was forced on the system that many other generators would withdraw (which happened). That would leave them pumping far too much water — and risk the flooding in lower areas. To stop the flooding they would have to pay exorbitant daytime rates to pump water back up to the higher dam at blistering prices above $250/MWh. Normally, like a battery, they try to buy-low, sell-high, in terms of finding cheaper parts of the day to run the pumps. But at the moment, there are no cheap hours.
And then there was the possibility that those dollars would not be recouped for up to five months leaving them with a cash shortfall of millions:
While it is true that there is a compensation mechanism via AEMC for recovering opportunity costs lost via generating during administered pricing periods, the actual methodology for calculating storage opportunity costs is not clear, and the mechanism has been rarely used in the past. Notably, under the Rules there is also an upwards of 90 business day (4 – 5 month) delay in determining these costs, including public consultation plus draft and final methodologies.
With an average output capacity of 260 MW in the week leading into the APC, continuing to operate the same way and keep the same price spread would require $18.2 million* in revenue claims per week which are potentially being delayed up to 5 months. Over the unknown period of time which the price cap would remain in place, this turns into a massive liability.
So finally when the APC did hit, not only was Tumut 3 left with little viable economic options for releasing capacity from the upper reservoir, it became evident that the race for the exits from other limited fuel generators was going to put enormous pressure on the lower reservoir if they were called upon. Taking all of this into account – we begin to see that it made unfortunate sense to follow suit.
The bureaucrats designed a poor market then blame the market or the players when they fail. The Greens and renewable-delusionals were blaming the generators for greed and gaming the system — as if they were withholding generation during wildly high priced market times.
These people have no idea.
h/t David B in Cooyal