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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South Africa grid struggling with national rolling blackouts: Strikes, corruption and no respect for coal power

This is Fall of Rome type stuff — everything is coming undone

National rolling blackouts have been occurring for days in South Africa and are forecast to continue for another week at least. One engineer warns they are just a step away from a total blackout and says it will be very difficult to reawaken the entire system. Traffic lights are failing, trains are stopping, and mobiles phones, ATMs and fuel pumps may not work. With unemployment at a shocking 35% already, the million dollar losses from blackouts make for a dark feedback loop.

The immediate cause is strikes for wage claims and terrible maintenance leading to major power outages lasting as long as nine hours. But Green targets and activism only makes it worse because there’s no interest in maintaining plants properly which are planned for closure. South Africa runs mostly on old coal plants, and one of the largest plants is closing (supposedly) as soon as September. And the wind and solar power they have often isn’t helping with the peak loads either.

There is vandalism from every direction. At the bottom end, apparently up to half the people in Soweto are not even paying for electricity […]

Electricity Hunger Games downunder —  potential sighting of four hour price bonfire

It’s a grid on the edge

Like a meteor-shower, the dinner time performance today may or may not be a spectator event. The fun may start at 4:30pm in Qld, NSW, Vic, SA and Tasmania — a full quinfecta at $15,000 per MW/h. The first wave of winter cold is about to wash over the grid, and those solar panels will fail just as people plug in their heaters, ovens, dryers and kettles and there is a four hour spike at $15,000MWh forecast. The graph below is the forecast for NSW, but it is essentially the same tsunami shape and dimension in every single state of the National Energy Market. Right now I presume there are engineers in the control rooms sweating over alternatives and they may well pull it off. These wildly high spikes have a way of resolving at the last minute. But think for a moment what kind of stakes we’re playing with. Hypothetically, if there was a 12,000MW demand for 4 hours in NSW at $15,000, that’s $720 million dollars worth of electricity. A few days like that would pay for a new coal plant, but no one seems to be listening to that price signal…

[…]

Shocking electricity price rises starting in Australia — so bad that small retailers ask customers to leave

It’s the day before the election and all through the house, electricity bills are doubling…

The price rises are so extraordinary one retailer is asking their customers to leave “in the next 24 hours”.

Across Australia small power suppliers are sending emails to customers right now warning them that their rates are going up next week by eye-watering amounts. Wholesale electricity prices were at a record high in April this year, and it hasn’t improved in May. Prices are hitting $200-$300 per megawatt hour, not as a peak, but as a 24 hour average. In South Australia two days ago, the average for the full day was $1,141. Futures contracts are rapidly taking off and these rises are starting to flow through to customers. Already, the small retailers are bleeding cash, just as they did in the UK, and if wholesale prices don’t come back to Earth soon, they will go out of business.

Reader Brett in South Australia shared an email from Discover Energy. As of next week the standard peak rate will rise from 39 cent per kilowatt hour to 70 cents. Off peak rates rise from 27 to 46. He also adds, “My brother lives in NSW […]

Mayhem on the Australian Grid continues — Record prices, factory shutdowns, emergency warnings

Generation tonight….

Just another week in the Transition we (Don’t) have to have

With 65 Glorious Gigawatts the Australian grid system has a vast excess (theoretically) of generation capacity, yet it’s so fragile that the loss of an interconnector, normal maintenance and a few coal turbines down — has triggered $100 million dollar price spikes. These burning pyres of money are so savage the average cost of wholesale electricity — across a whole day — is lately in the realm of $200- $700 per megawatt hour over most states for 24 hour periods. For the last week, daily prices have been ten times the “old normal”.

And it comes on the back of the most expensive April in the Australian grid history in every mainland state on the National Electricity Market.

Autumn and spring are supposed to be easy days in Australia with peak demand only running at 27,000 MW. Because things are lighter, generators do normal maintenance at this time of year, but at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any room for that in the network. In summer, demand is often 5,000MW higher. Where’s that going to come from?

Factories are shutting down for fear […]

Jo Nova — “Australia – Crash Test Dummy of Renewable Energy”: Monday night US. Tuesday morning AU

I’ll be discussing the absurdity of Destroying Perfectly good Electricity Grids in Australia with the Friends of Science in Calgary, Canada with a presentation then Q&A. It will be live 7pm MDT Monday evening in Canada/USA and Tuesday 10th morning in Australia (11am EST, 9am WST). It will be available to watch afterwards as the wonderful Ian Plimer’s is now from last week.

“Australia – Crash Test Dummy of Renewable Energy” with Joanne Nova Click here for more information 9.8 out of 10 based on 50 ratings

Scorching electricity price spikes in NSW and Queensland

Brisbane on May 3rd was a glorious 15 to 25C (or 60F – 77F) and yet the price of electricity was shocking.

The scale of the graph is so distorted that all the normal price gyrations fall to nothing, and there is only the spike — a full hour of $14,000 burning for every megawatt, and the state needing 7,000 megawatts. The demand level, or load is not unusual, but it’s about $100 million in electricity.

And this is the nice time of year for electricity managers, or it used to be. With weather that’s ideal for human habitation most air-conditioners and heaters are off. But the sun is setting earlier, and solar power is shrinking just as everyone gets home from work to turn on the oven.

AEMO

Some may blame the “lack of coal power”, but notice what’s happening to wind and solar power at critical time from 5:20pm to about 6:30pm.

All the wind and solar power in Queensland on May 3, 2022 |

Though there are other factors at work too and some are a bit mysterious according to Paul McArdle. Queensland at one point had only a 7% instantaneous reserve plant […]

Presentations from Ian Plimer and Jo Nova — “Net Zero and the The Great Regret”

I’m delighted to announce that Friends of Science in Calgary Canada have organized speeches and online panel sessions from Ian Plimer tomorrow today Monday evening in Canada/USA and Tuesday 3rd morning in Australia, and myself the following week Monday May 9th in Canada, and Tuesday May 10th in Australia. Click here for more information 9.8 out of 10 based on 45 ratings

Deaths from 1 degree of warming nothing compared to an Electricity Grid collapse for a year

Even the worst imaginary scenarios for global warming are nothing compared to a year without electricity. Bunky Mortimer III thinks US priorities are screwed.

Get one at Indiamart perhaps?

The US will spend some $555b to prevent a theoretical warming of a degree or two. A warming which may not occur for a century, if at all, and about which the largest competitors to the USA are doing nothing.

In contrast, a solar Carrington event, one nuclear blast, or a cyber attack taking out just nine interconnector sites could collapse the entire US grid for 18 months.

Which environmental threat matters? The West is in apoplexy over the environmental degradation affecting polar bears, but the environment we need the most right now is the one with fresh water, edible food and a room temperature above freezing.

Securing the grid should be this country’s highest environmental priority

Taki’s Magazine

A prolonged collapse of this nation’s electrical grid—through starvation, disease, and societal collapse—could result in the death of up to 90% of the U.S. population. This figure has not been disputed, yet this prospect has received virtually no attention from policy makers or the media. The […]

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 […]