Electricity prices fall from ridiculous peak but it’s not due to renewables and it’s still not cheap

By Jo Nova

This week the agitprop-media was full of contrived good news about electricity prices in Australia, associated suggestively, in the loosest, most meaningless way with the word “renewables”. Not one of them said that long term prices were still higher than when we started trying to force unreliable wind and solar power on the grid, and not one of them said prices would be one half of the price now if the country was lucky enough to run off brown coal.

These misleading stories were disguised adverts for renewable energy pretending to be “news”. They were on display at The Guardian, The ABC and The Sydney Morning Herald, and every other paper across Australia. Not one journalist apparently had the wit to ask the AEMO how this compared to long term prices. But all of them obediently repeated that prices this December were 48% cheaper than the December before that, as if Australians like to discuss that sort of thing across the BBQ. Were monthly average wholesale prices good for you Jim?

Australia’s wholesale power prices fall by almost half as carbon emissions drop

Wholesale power prices across Australia’s main electricity market almost halved at […]

Blackouts are coming: Australian grid so fragile, expensive, cement giant already shuts down nearly every day

Image by Vicente Godoy from Pixabay

By Jo Nova

We can’t even run a cement factory all day anymore

Get your candles for summer! Unlike the last three years the Australian national grid won’t be rescued by another cooler La Nina this year. Fears of rolling blackouts are fraying nerves at The Australian Financial Review Energy & Climate Summit. The transition is described as stuttering, gridlocked, faltering, and the government as “desperate”.

Things are so bad, former CEO’s of major generators are warning that “the lights are going to go out” and accusing one Energy Minister of speaking “complete and utter horseshit” because they don’t think we need reliable peaking gas plants to replace coal power. Said Energy Minister has responded by refusing to even take his calls. That’s really going to work. Meanwhile Japan is getting nervous just watching us, afraid we have screwed things up so badly we can’t be relied on to keep sending them gas.

Not only is summer nerve-wracking, but things are already so bad, one of our largest cement producers is shutting down nearly every day because it can’t afford to pay for the peak electricity spikes even in springtime. Here in […]

Panic now: The Australian national grid manager admits blackouts are coming


By Jo Nova

We’re on the precipice of a radical experiment with a national electricity grid

The AEMO (manager of the Australian grid) has finally released the major report on problems coming in the next ten years on our national grid, and it’s worse than they thought even six months ago. They euphemistically refer to the coming “reliability gaps”. They could have said “blackouts” instead, but a gap in reliability sounds so much nicer.

Bizarrely, the lead graph of the 175 page AEMO report goes right off the scale, mysteriously peaking in the unknown and invisible real estate off the top of the chart. And they’re not projecting troubles fifty years from now. Those cropped peaks of invisible pain hit from 2027.

And even the pain we can see is apparently quite bad. Two states are already likely to breach “the interim reliability measure” in this coming summer. Ominously, just one day after releasing the report, the AEMO is calling for tenders for “reliability reserves” in South Australia and Victoria. Apparently, they want offers of industries ready to shut down who aren’t already on the list, and they want spare generation too — get this — even asking […]

Inflation be damned — Brown coal is still making electricity for 3c a Kilowatt hour

By Jo Nova

Don’t mention brown coal?

Last quarter I reported that the Australian Energy Market Operators (AEMO) had strangely “forgotten” to list the brown coal prices in its quarterly report, despite it being the second largest energy source in our national electricity market.

Other quarters, often they would include a graph comparing the average winning bids of all the major fuel types — a graph that surely is essential in these inflationary times where our electricity prices are setting record highs, rising by 25% this month, and we have a national debate on our energy crisis.

In the next quarterly report the AEMO did list the average “winning bids” of brown coal but didn’t do the comparison graph, so I’ve done it for them. If only they had room in their 68 page report and $450 million dollar budget so Australians can see, at a glance, which fuel source provides the cheapest wholesale generation by far, every quarter, all the time?

Despite all the inflation, the war, and the pandemic, brown coal generators are still making electricity for 3c a KWh. Shouldn’t Australians know that?

Click to enlarge (Or download the larger JPG file)

Compare that to […]

Green Australia: where Industry is on Edge, the grid “precarious” and electricity prices up 25%

By Jo Nova

The land that is the Renewable Crash Test Dummy is holding its breath

This time last year, the Australian energy market turned into a kind of Hunger Games spectacle with daily feeding-fest at dinner time where prices were so burning hot that unhedged smaller retailers begged their own customers to leave them and then the whole market was suspended. The bonfire was so big we’re still paying for it, and retail electricity prices are set to rise another 25% in a few weeks.

So it’s no surprise that as the cold weather arrives downunder, everyone involved in energy is “on edge”. Suddenly Australian corporate leaders are telling it like it is — the Alinta Gas chief says there is just no way we can build enough renewables in time — he can’t even “see a way” of building enough renewables to compensate for the coal units that are being closed.

The man who used to run the Snowy Hydro Scheme agrees (and then some) — saying we need to build a “Snowy” every year, and we are being lied to (his words) and it will take not 8 years, but 80 years to get there. The […]

Six gigawatts of total wind generation collapsed in 16 hours last week, and nobody cared

By Jo Nova

Just another day of Wind turbine failure — 6GW in 16 hours

There was no cyclone, no storm, no national disaster, but our national infrastructure collapsed just the same. Blame a high pressure cell.

Last week TonyFromOz noticed that the output from all 79 industrial wind plants in Australia disappeared overnight from 6GW to just 0.4GW. Imagine if an entire state of coal plants failed in the space of 16 hours and nobody cared?

Wind plants fail all the time and wreak havoc on the grid. It’s just “business as usual” or rather “subsidies as usual”. The rainbow list of acronyms below the graph shows every single wind plant in five states of Australia was accounted for in this dismal tally.

Wind turbine failure: TonyFromOZ

Billions of dollars rests on whether we can stop high pressure cells forming near Adelaide…

As Tony points out, the more wind towers we build, the worse this mayhem will be. Weather comes and weather goes but when the doldrums hit, it wipes out all 79 industrial plants together. Only wind plants built outside the high pressure cell could smooth out this failure. Offshore wind farms would have failed at […]

Vale Liddell coal: given away for nothing and destroyed by predatory capitalism and a screwed Green market

By Jo Nova

A “win” for predatory capitalism and government mis-interference

Liddell power station (foreground). Bayswater power station (rear).Photo NSW DPI

Yesterday, for the last time the final turbine was switched off at Liddell Coal plant after 52 years of operation. The NSW government gave it away for free in 2014 — bundled like a McHappy Meal in with the sale of Bayswater Coal, valued at $0. Governments saw old coal as worthless, at least until 2017 when everyone saw the bloodbath when the Hazelwood coal plant suddenly closed and electricity prices suddenly rose 85%. Then they started to panic a little — even Malcolm Turnbull (our Renewables lovin’ PM) started openly pressuring AGL to sell Liddell so it could keep running until his pet project the Snowy Hydro 2.0 could start. Chinese owned Alinta turned up with $250 million dollars and was willing to put in a billion to repair the station and extend its life up to 2030. Despite that bonanza, AGL refused to take the money. It was determined to run it into the ground and shut it down instead. Now it’s determined to blow it up as well. The Demolition crew is already appointed […]

Brown coal is so cheap AEMO forgets to mention it

By Jo Nova

Many Australians face a 20% rise in their electricity bill this coming winter, so it seems odd that the AEMO* forgot to put the price of the cheapest source of electricity in their last quarterly report. The bid-setting prices for brown coal have been some of my favourite graphs, but this quarter, for the first time a whole energy source disappeared. It would only be another 2 digit number in a 69 page report, yet the average winning bid of brown coal generators on our national grid last quarter is not even mentioned?

The nation faces major decisions about whether to continue to try changing global weather with our power plants. You would think Australians would like to know which fuel produces the cheapest electricity and by exactly how much? I mean, what’s the true cost of cooling Australia by a thousandth of a degree in 2100?

Perhaps the AEMO didn’t like that skeptics spread the message that brown coal could still generate electricity for less than 4c/KWh, or that hydro and gas were seven times more expensive? After all, the head of the AEMO — Daniel Westerman — says we must ramp up renewables to […]

Blistering electricity prices: It was the quarter the whole market broke and Australia got a $12.1b price signal

Looks like a system wide failure

For years the average wholesale price was somewhere between $30 and $60 per megawatt hour for electricity on the Australian national grid. But for the entire 2,184 hours of quarter two this year, we were paying an average price of $264 per megawatt hour. It wasn’t just due to a couple of freakish spikes, instead it was a relentless burning average, like a lava flow arrived at your wallet.

At an average operational demand of 22GW, that’s a hefty $12.7 billion dollar price tag for 91 days of electricity. Last year the same period it cost $4b. Years ago, before we added all the unreliable generators, it would have cost $2 billion.

It would have been cheaper just to build a whole new power plant last year.

The graph below covers the century so far. It is that bad.

It wasn’t that there was a particular time of the day when prices were higher, instead every hour was a bloodbath. It was a phase change. There was no happy hour at this hotel.

And it didn’t matter whether a state was renewable-heaven or a den of black-coal. Prices were shocking in every […]

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 […]

In perfect hell for grid managers, Global Warming causes coldest start to winter in South-East Australia since WWII

The climate experts didn’t warn us we’d need more electricity for winter in Australia.

If only carbon dioxide make winter nights warmer, Australians wouldn’t have been using up stockpiles of coal and gas in the last six weeks, and setting winter-time demand records. These geniuses got everything wrong.

Coldest start to winter in decades for eastern Australia with power grid under strain

The Guardian

Early June temperatures in Melbourne didn’t go above 15 degrees for first time in 70 years as cold weather pattern starts to break

Eastern Australia’s giant cold snap is finally breaking down but not before temperatures reached lows not seen for seven decades or longer and pushed the country’s main electricity grid to the brink.

The extended chill was caused by an unusual weather pattern that locked in cool pools of air over southern and eastern states, triggering the deepest snow dumps in the alps since 1968, according to Ben Domensino, a senior meteorologist at Weatherzone.

Australia so cold it’s already setting winter electricity demand records

It’s not about record cold snaps, it’s more of a long run of below average days. In a sign of […]

In an emergency, we need coal

So it’s a new record. In the 20 years since the National Energy Market formed it has never operated on such a vapor thin margin. Only a few days ago Paul McArdle at WattClarity thought a mere 15% instantaneous reserve plant margin was a headline event, but tonight the grid survived (so far) on a tiny 3% Instantaneous Reserve Plant Margin NEM-wide. Things were so tight the NSW Minister for Energy sought emergency powers to force coal companies to provide fuel to coal generators for the next 30 days on his say so. Presumably next on his list would be emergency powers from God to make the wind blow.

Two years ago Australian taxpayers spend $13 billion a year in climate action (Moran). As researchers at ANU noted, Australia was leading the way — installing more megawatts per person than any other nation on Earth. (Blakers) Despite being the fastest growing and sparsest population, on the most remote nation which was practically a quarry and farm built on coal and uranium deposits, Australian political leaders rushed to compete for green booby prizes in Beautiful Weather Contests.

And the toll from the bonfire in prices is just starting with Iron […]

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 […]

Blackout risk in five states continues: Wholesale energy market suspended, Australians told to use less electricity

The Renewable Crash Test Dummies: Test in progress

A LaTrobe Valley Coal Plant

Day #3: Huge Yallourn coal plant in Victoria loses 2 of 4 turbines. The AEMO suspends the whole market. Blackout warnings continue. Australians are being asked to conserve electricity. It’s just another day in the forced transition we don’t have to have.

How much lower can we go? Half of the generators from the ultra cheap brown coal Yallourn plant went phht yesterday. This was “unplanned”. It normally makes 20% of Victoria’s electricity. It’s owned by EnergyAustralia (China Light and Power) which is keen to close it early in 2028 and has a special secret deal with the Victorian government to do so. Perhaps China Light and Power is scrimping on those maintenance costs?

Warnings about potential blackouts exist for all five states on the National grid during the next 48 hours. The Minister for Energy, and the head of the AEMO, and several state Ministers have asked Australians to turn off all the non-essential electrical items. The NSW Minister asked people not to use their dishwasher tonight. Go first world modern nation! Meanwhile Matt Canavan wonders why people can’t use their dishwashers but the […]

Still teetering: Blackout warnings across the Australian grid next three days

All the rules are breaking.

The price market broke on Sunday night and now the interconnectors rules are broken too. The whole Eastern five state “National” grid is flying seat of the pants — the reserves are so incredibly thin that there are LOR3 forecasts — meaning Lack Of Reserve Level 3 rolled out for all five states. It doesn’t mean blackouts will happen, but it means all the protective layers of this onion are gone. The system is running bare.

UPDATE: There were some blackouts in Sydney’s northern suburbs last night. “Millions of homes” were apparently told to conserve their power in Brisbane and Sydney. Welcome to RenewableWorld!

ht/ WattsUp, Eric Worrall, and RicDre

The price market broke on Sunday night when for the first time the AEMO imposed somewhat anachronistic price setting clauses it had never used. By fixing the wholesale price in Queensland, market bidding suddenly phase-changed into a twilight world where prices were set too low (at an obscenely high $300/MWh, but not high enough now), and generators didn’t want to bid. So offers to supply “Yo-Yo’d” and the AEMO had to run emergency orders of a different kind to […]

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.


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


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 […]

EnergyAustralia (a Chinese company) tells Government we need a plan to end Australian coal

EnergyAustralia is 100% owned by China Light and Power (CLP Group) and owns a suite of generators that include coal, gas, wind farms and battery storage in Australia. It was sold by the NSW government for $1.4 billion in 2011. According to Wikipedia, the mothership company, CLP, owns “a number of power stations in Asia” and most are either coal-fired or fossil fuel power stations. It also owns Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company.

Yallourn Power Plant, | Malcolm Paterson, CSIRO


A year ago the same company that announced it was speeding up the closure of Yallourn coal power plant to 2028 instead of 2032, now warns the transition “may not be smooth” and the governments plan to pay incentives to keep them open “may not be enough”. But back in March last year, when EnergyAustralia said it wanted to close Yallorn, it also said that it wanted to show that the transition is possible “without disruption”. In fact the Managing Director raved at the time “”We are determined to show Australia, that it is possible to move from the old to the new in a way that does not leave people behind.”. Blah Blah Blah, eh?

The […]

Cold snaps and blistering electricity prices downunder — where one state burnt $2.4b in electricity in May

And the bonfire continues

As cold fronts sweep across the south east of Australia electricity prices are setting records nobody wants to set. The wholesale prices for electricity –across a whole month — soared past $300 a megawatt hour in three states of Australia. In NSW the cumulative cost of wholesale electricity for May alone worked out at $2.4 billion dollars. It’s enough to build a power plant. Back in 2015, before Hazelwood old brown coal plant closed and Australia installed more renewable energy per capita than anywhere else on the planet, the average price in NSW was $35/MWh. Back then it cost $260 million for the whole month. (And Hazelwood wasn’t even in NSW. ) The point is not about one coal plant, but about how recently the system still worked and how fast it fell apart. Hazelwood coal plant in 2017 was 53 years old and still selling electricity at $30 per megawatt hour when it was shut down. Since then the whole grid has so much more capacity yet so much less ability. There’s no resilience left. A few speed bumps wiped out the whole road train.


Wholesale electricity prices are higher across the […]

The Energy Crisis in Australia gets deeper

Shh. The Renewable Crash Test Dummy is at work

Another coal fired turbine blew this weekend and will be out for a month, adding to the problems facing the Australian grid, where gas was the main filler-of-gaps in the forced transition but gas now costs a fortune, and we don’t have much else to fall back on. If only we had vast reserves of brown coal that was close to power stations?

If only we looked after those power stations and treated them like our lifestyle depended on them instead of like they were evil Storm Machines Mogambo!

The warnings are growing louder — our aluminium smelters are already going on standby to save us from rolling blackouts and it’s only the first week of winter. Retailers are going broke, asking customers to leave. The market system rides on long term futures contracts which hold the monster prices at bay, and everyone prays a storm doesn’t break an interconnector…

Manufacturers in peril as energy crisis deepens

Perry Williams, The Australian

Delta Electricity, which operates NSW’s Vales Point station, said it was concerned by the precarious situation, with fuel costs rising and tight supplies of coal. […]

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…