JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Did a short sharp Geomagnetic storm contribute to the Callide Coal plant explosion?

Ben Davidson speaks from Spaceweathernews.com and claims that there was a short sharp geomagnetic storm over the East Coast of Australia around the time the Queensland Callide Power plant exploded.

The CME that flew past Earth didn’t do much around the world, causing a small 1% deviation in magnetometers. But there was a burst of activity in the Southern Hemisphere that appears to have hit the east coast of Australia. Magnetometers there saw a 300 – 500% change* between noon and 3pm on the same day as the Callide Coal Power Plant blew up. The explosion happened at 1.44pm and the 275 kV transmission lines tripped at 2:06pm.

*(UPDATE: There is some contention in comments about the Australian DST figures — we’re they really that high or unusual? I’ll update the post when I can confirm it either way).

We don’t know if this tipped something over the edge at Callide, but the timing is highly coincidental. If Earth’s magnetic field is weakening it would seem urgent, to say the least, to understand the risks these spaceweather events pose to our critical infrastructure.

Perhaps an engineer who knows the design of (hydrogen cooled) supercritical coal reactors might be able […]

Queensland’s Near Miss: hydrogen may have exploded at a coal plant (and renewables don’t save the day)

Tuesday was a wild day for Queensland Electricity. An explosion struck the Callide C Power Plant triggering a cascade of other plants to switch off within seconds. The massive 2.5GW fall in supply took the grid frequency in Brisbane to a hair raising 49.55Hz. How close did it come to falling over? Half a million people lost power for a couple of hours but a Statewide blackout was averted. Luckily no one was hurt.

Meanwhile the people in power were not saying “Hydrogen”, or “explosion” but the Supercritical Units at Callide are cooled with hydrogen, and there was an explosion. The owner CS Energy called it just “a fire”. But in other news reports people in the nearest town said it was “the loudest explosion they have ever heard”.

Hydrogen, it seems, is used in some coal plants as a coolant, but Holy Hindenberg, it is known to explode. (See Ohio in 2007, Pittsburg in 2017 and India, 2019) . A Union official said it appeared the hydrogen filled generator of the main turbine had suffered a catastrophic failure. And it’s all exquisitely awkward, as David Archibald points out, happening while a two day Hydrogen Conference is on — as […]

NSW power so erratically expensive an aluminium smelter powered down three times in a week

The Tomago smelter uses more than 10% of the entire New South Wales electricity grid supply. But the price spikes in electricity are so crippling the industrial giant could not afford to keep running on three occasions in the last week. Welcome to Venezaustralia.

Tomago

And it’s not even winter yet:

Prices were spiking in four states on May 17th.. Thanks to WattClarity.

Tomago aluminium smelter powers down three times in a week due to electricity shortages

A massive 35,000 per cent spike in wholesale power prices due to supply shortages has forced a NSW aluminium smelter to shut down three times in the past week to keep the lights on in Sydney.

The Tomago smelter, which supports more than 1800 local jobs, has had to power down multiple times since May 12 to ensure households across the state have enough power for heating as winter sets in.

Tomago chief executive Matt Howell said the sudden power price hike to $14,500 a megawatt hour was the equivalent of ­petrol prices going up to $400 a litre.

This time it was mega-price-spikes but other days Tomago plays Electricity-Saint for […]

France threatens UK electricity supply again, Navies called in

The island of Jersey gets 95% of its electricity via cables from France. The latest post-Brexit fishing dispute got so hot so fast, that a French minister even suggested cutting off the electricity if they didn’t get their way. 60 French fishing vessels were protesting at slow licensing. But naval ships from both sides were even called in to patrol the area, the situation has been defused.

Surely the UK government must be working out that electricity supply is a major tool for foreign disputes. Currently about 10% of the UK electricity comes in via undersea cables*, but that is set to rise to 25%, according to the Daily Mail. Surely alarms are ringing? This is not even the first time this outrageous threat was made. Macron himself threatened it last October too. See “Hands Up! Your money or your Fish!“

There is a very uneasy power balance here: The right to fish in British waters is worth about 650 million euros to EU fishermen, but European energy markets were worth up to £2.3 billion for the UK.

Not only does it leave the UK in a weaker negotiation position, but a selfish foreign player could also ambiguously twist […]

Germany shuts too much coal, lasted 8 days without them, now admits they can’t close them

Emden, Germany by Gritte

On January 1st, Germany shut 11 coal fired plants with about 4.7GW of generating power — supposedly as a part of the Big Phaseout. But eight days later the wind wasn’t blowing and according to Pierre Goslin the system got so unstable that the managers had to turn back on some of the coal power.This on-off-cycle repeated so many times that one large plant — Heyden –was restarted six times in the next eight weeks.

The Federal Network Agency have reclassified the four of the big plants as “system relevant” which means they have to hang around on standby ready to rescue the grid at any time. So the largest efficient and cheap generators on the grid will be paid to sit around waiting for the unreliable expensive energy to fail.

2021 German Coal Plant “Phaseout” Lasted Only 8 Days…Put Back Online To Stabilize Shaky Grid

The Federal Network Agency has now confirmed that it has reclassified the Heyden, Datteln, Walsum 9 and Westfalen power plants, which had already been shut down, as system-relevant and that they now must remain […]

Green energy “an existential threat to German economy” declares Supreme Auditors

Emden, Germany by Gritte

The supreme auditors of Germany warned about the costs of Green energy a few years ago, but now they are paying attention to energy security too, and with sudden alarm they’ve announced that Green energy poses “an existential threat” to Germany.

It’s something dumb bloggers have been saying for years. But this is good news that German bureaucratic numerical masters are on to it.

Pierre Gosselin of NoTricksZone, calls it “explosive”:

So explosive is the German Government Audit report that Die Welt and the government auditors see the Energiewende as a “danger for all of Germany”.

Daniel Wetzel at German national daily Die Welt reports on the latest German Federal Court of Auditors’ warning: “If things continue like this, Germany as a business location is in danger. The costs are out of control – and there is a growing threat of an electricity shortfall.”

The Bundesrechnungshof in Germany or Federal Audit Office sounds rather awesome — legislators can’t tell it what to do, and its exact position in the layers of power is disputed, which only makes it sound more significant.*

The Federal Audit Office sees the […]

In a fluke moment SA and Vic have got cheap electricity (but only thanks to Black coal, and a screwed market)

Yesterdays free advertisement for the Renewables Industry comes from Peter Martin, ANU, and was swallowed whole by The Conversation, and then repeated by The ABC. (If only the ABC had three million dollars a day to spend on checking things before it published them, they might have warned the economist that he doesn’t understand much about the grid or even the energy market.) This kind of anti-coal PsyOps might work on teenagers: Electricity has become a jigsaw. Coal is unable to provide the missing pieces

March 16, 2021 1.46pm AEDT

Yallourn, in the Latrobe Valley, provides up to 20 per cent of Victoria’s power. It has been operating for 47 years. Since late 2017 at least one of its four units has broken down 50 times. Its workforce doubles for three to four months most years to deal with the breakdowns. It pumps out 3 per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions.

And here’s Macarthur Wind Power plant, Victoria’s largest at 420-never-attained-MW. It breaks down nearly every single day:

Fig 1: Anero.id Macarthur Wind output

Martin goes on in a non-stop infomercial for wind and solar He must be aiming for 12 year old voters, or perhaps […]

Political obliteration: The Right sold out their base on sovereign borders and climate change

There are lessons for conservatives from this eclectic election in the most isolated state on Earth. It was historic, epic, and “A complete and utter landslide“. And the message is “borders”. Remember “Build the Wall?” Conservatives all around the world seem to have forgotten the power and appeal of being able to control who and which viridae, come across the border. If the Democrats in the US fortified the wall, they might not have to fortify election results.

It’s a complete blitz. | The West Australian

The election Saturday was a wipeout of legendary proportions among democracies anywhere. Only four years ago, the Liberals (conservatives, theoretically) were the ruling party in Western Australia. Today they hold but two, as in one plus one, seats in the lower house of the WA Parliament, out of 59. They may win 3. The Labor Party took 58% of the first preference votes (that’s almost unheard of). Labor will take the Upper House too. See: WA Election Results. Things are so extreme, the talk now is how the Parliament is not big enough to hold the Labor M.P.’s. The rooms are just not designed for one party having almost […]

German experiment to make wind powered Silicon Chips fails

Surprising no one: lumpy expensive electricity does not make for a High Tech Paradise

It’s another example of how more green jobs means less real ones. A German High Tech Chip maker driven to Singapore by renewable energy prices

Emden, Germany by Gritte

To understand the scale of just how green Germany is, ponder that it has the third largest wind power fleet in the world, with around 30,000 turbines. In 2020, wind power generated more than a quarter of German electricity and solar power another 10%. Despite all that *free* energy Germans pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world at 38c/KWh. Whereas Singaporeans use natural gas and pay 18c/KWh. Germans are famous for their high tech engineering, but now they can’t afford to manufacture it at home. Siltronic is moving, and along with that presumably goes some of the intellectual property, brains, and security that comes with having that production locally.

h/t GWPF Chipmakers lament high taxes and levies on electricity in Germany 9.5 out of 10 based on 62 ratings […]

Texas dodged a bullet: Would you like explosions with your blackouts?

Houston Texas, Feb 2021. Image by Fish & Trips

Texas toyed with cascading crises

The Green Experiment could have gone so much worse. Here’s a man who was a gas industry executive involved in a near miss in New England in 1989. The four day blackout sounds bad, but it was a lottery win compared to the worst case scenarios. Not only was a full state-wide blackout possible, which may take months to correct, but the gas system is a bomb waiting to go off too.

ERCOT officials admit they only just averted a blackstart:

Texas was “seconds and minutes” away Texas’ power grid was “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, officials with the entity that operates the grid said Thursday.

— by Erin Douglas, Texas Tribune

The Blackstart in Venezuela took weeks to restart — rebooting an induction motor takes six times the normal current. Energizing a substation can cause explosions. It’s much easier to add load to an operating grid than to rebuild one from scratch. Surges on start up can break things, that fail. It can take rolling rounds […]