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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Just throw money: AEMO demands $12b gift to build 10,000 km of new transmission lines for Renewables

Marcus Wong Wongm

Effectively — the AEMO (the Australian Energy Market Operator) is the taxpayer funded advertising agency for the Renewables Industry. The point of the latest AEMO super-report, apparently, is to get Australian taxpayers or consumers to foot the bill for the high voltage lines that the unreliable industry desperately needs but can’t pay for itself.

The AEMO has declared we need to rush to cough up $12.7 billion to build new interconnectors in Australia. That’s $500 from every man woman and child and let’s call it what it is, a Gift Card for the Renewables Industry. The net benefit of all that money will be to allow wind and solar industrial plants to connect their unreliable product to the grid we already have, and to the storage products that we still have to pay for, and all so that their green electrons will make the weather 0.0 degrees cooler in a hundred years. Australians alive today will pay now and basically get nothing but views of more criss-crossy-steel-wires and spires, and more wind towers too. Sing Hallelujah.

The 104 page Blueprint imagines all kinds of scenarios except for an actual free market, true competition, consumer […]

Welcome to a weather dependent nation — whether you can use your dishwasher depends on the wind

Renewable Crash Test Dummy: Friday edition

For energy-nerds following the Australian experiment, today is a big day. On the up-side, three coal turbines have rebooted adding another 1200MW to the grid. On the down-side, the wind has slowed and 3000MW has disappeared. On the hope-side, another 4 coal turbines may possibly get back in gear by Sunday, and you never know, the wind might pick up. Though it doesn’t look good.

Wind generation. June 16, 2022, Australian NEM. | Anero.id

It doesn’t matter how many wind farms we build when one High Pressure cell arrives to sit on them all

And here is the cell that stops a million dishwashers.

One high cell to stop them all | BOM

This is where all 76 Australia NEM grid wind farms are which could, in theory be generating as much as 9.8GW but are turning out 10% of that now.

Map of Wind generation Australia

Ninety percent of Australians are being asked to be careful with their electricity today while we wait for the wind to start blowing again or the weather to warm up. And millions of dollars is being burned in electricity bills (assuming […]

Australian grid teeters on edge of blackouts tonight

The Queensland grid is in crisis — the forecast price for nearly the entire next 24 hours is $15,000 per megawatt hour.

I have never seen a graph like this one. It’s a “white knuckle ride” as Paul McArdle describes it. The IRPM (or Instantaneous Reserve Plant Margin) is just 8%. “This shows total Available Generation of 31,679MW ready to supply aggregate ‘Market Demand’ of of 29,201MW at this point … so a surplus of only 2,478MW NEM-wide.” But only last week there was a record day where the grid demand was 32,000MW — the highest winter demand day for years.

AEMO

Reserves are incredibly thin, not just in Queensland, but also in NSW.

AEMO

Market Notices from the AEMO are flowing like confetti. There is an Actual Lack of Reserve Level 2 (LOR2) in Queensland as of 6pm to 8pm. There is an LOR2 running for NSW as well, and an LOR1 for Victoria. If things shift up to LOR3 that means blackouts are likely, and LOR3s are forecast — in QLD tonight and in NSW tomorrow night. The margins are thinner than they look. Because extra generation on one part of the grid may […]

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…

[…]

Australian wholesale electricity prices have doubled in the last year (and it’s because we don’t have enough coal power)

Luckily for Energy Oligarchs, Australian electricity prices have bounced right back to pre-pandemic insanity. Wholesale rates are romping around $170 dollars a megawatt hour in April across the whole national grid…

The media mouthpieces are blaming it on outages of coal turbines — even though wind power fails every week, and solar fails every day. If unreliable generators cause high prices, then Wind is King Fickle. They’re also blaming high coal prices, but coal itself, is a small part of the cost of a two billion dollar plant. Naturally, neither political team has a clue how to fix this. But it’s all so banal — the prices are set at auction, and some fuels are cheap. Add more of the cheap type, and we’d get cheaper electricity.

Right now, if there were more black coal plants setting the price more of the time, electricity would be half the cost. If enough brown coal plants like Hazelwood were still running, the prices would be a fifth. It’s all there in the data that ABC journalists never find. Consider the winning bids by fuel type in Australia for the last quarter of 2021. For Brown Coal, the average winning bid was $11 […]

What would you say to Daniel Westerman, head of Australia’s AEMO?

Rafe Champion is fishing for responses

Daniel Westerman, AEMO

In May this year Daniel Westerman replaced Audrey Zibelman as the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator. She was appointed in the Turnbull era after she was tipped as a possibility for Energy Secretary under President Hilary Clinton. In the event their loss was our gain.

Daniel Westerman is now the head man in the organization that runs the operation of our grid and prepares scenarios for decarbonization of the power sector.

What questions would you ask him if you were on the panel to interview the candidates for the position?

8.8 out of 10 based on 34 ratings […]

Australian grid has major near miss: SA Islanded for two weeks

Here in Renewables-World downunder, most people don’t know the grid has barely scraped through the last two weeks. We almost lost an Aluminium smelter, came close to a statewide blackout and South Australia is (possibly) still islanded from the rest of the National Grid.

The AEMO held a crisis meeting yesterday but this trouble started Friday week ago in what was described as a “white knuckle event” by energy analyst, Paul McArdle at WattClarity. A storm knocked down six large transmission towers on the high voltage interconnector line in Western Victoria which left South Australia suddenly islanded. This time SA had 1,000MW more energy than it could use, so frequency in SA suddenly rose to a near disastrous 50.96Hz and briefly perhaps even higher. (Wait for the official reports). The system teetered but managed to stay running. Prices rocketed up to the usual spike to $14,500/MWh in both Victoria and South Australia.

It would have been nerve-wracking in the control rooms. The Portland Aluminium Smelter in Victoria, which is the largest single user of electricity in Victoria, had a near death experience. Both pot lines shut down immediately. It appears emergency workers only managed to get 50% of the […]

Basslink cable out again, costing Victorians more as prices rise

The Basslink cable has gone down again, and is expected to be out of action til mid-October. Luckily for Tasmania, the dams are at 45% full. However in Victoria, which sits on one of the largest brown coal reserves in the world, currently prices are hitting $300/MWh every morning and every evening at peak time. This graph below shows 5 minute prices for the last two days in Victoria. Every dollar Victoria saves at lunchtime from solar generation is lost a few hours later, and then some. Though it’s wrong to use the word “saves” at any time of day. The wholesale price of brown coal power for years was $30/MWh, and this below is a wholesale price graph. Even the lunchtime “low prices” are twice as expensive as brown coal which can supply all day, every day and for hundreds of years to come and doesn’t cause voltage surges, frequency instability, or house fires, and doesn’t need backup batteries, demand management schemes, free movie tickets, or dark hospitals.

The AEMO must be counting their lucky stars that this happened at probably the “best” time of year when demand is lower.

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The effect of the Basslink outage […]

Nearly a billion dollars for electricity for just one day — $500 per family

The Electro-pyre conflagration escalates.

The cost of electricity on Thursday in two states of Australia reached a tally of $932 million dollars for a single day of electricity. Thanks to David Bidstrup on Catallaxy for calculating it.

As Bruce of Newcastle says “ “Three days and you could buy a HELE plant with the money wasted.” That’s a power plant that could last 70 years, and provide electricity at under $50/MW. (Forget all the high charges for 30 years to pay of the capital (in red below), we could just buy the damn thing outright, paid off in full from day one.)

Cost of old coal plants in the USA. From the report by Stacy and Taylor, of the Institute for Energy Research (IER)

Burned at the stake: $500 per family

In Victoria, per capita, that means it cost $110 for one day’s electricity. For South Australians, Thursday’s electricity bill was $140 per person. (So each household of four just effectively lost $565.) In both these states those charges will presumably be paid in future price rises, shared unevenly between subsidized solar users and suffering non-solar hostages. The costs will be buried such that duped householders will not […]

Rampant solar, wind growth: Australia increases unreliable energy by 50% in 2018. Wow.

The Crash Test Dummy accelerates. Australia is steaming ahead in the forced transition to unreliable energy

A lot of the reason for the growth in renewables is the Renewable Energy Target (the RET). Renewables must supply 16% of our electricity in 2018, and even more in 2019.

Strap yourself in. Buried in the AEMO summer readiness plan was the news that our intermittent renewables capacity is forecast to increase by fully 50% this year. All the renewables we had accrued in the two decade “transition” til December last year, we’ve added half again. We are already pushing the bounds of stability and setting price records, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. We are escalating the rate of change.

In toto, we have 56GW of generation of all sorts in the national grid on the east coast. The wind and solar component increased from 4GW at the end of 2017 to over 6GW by the end of 2018. But it doesn’t take much intermittent power to change the way the whole grid works.

Things are so fragile that a few weeks ago, when 240MW of reliable supply was suddenly not available for this summer, the AEMO had to issue a […]