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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Sydney Hail Storm: Just how hailproof are those solar panels?

Here’s a problem coal fired plants don’t need to worry about.

Sydney’s ‘catastrophic’ hailstorm happened on Thursday, the damage bill said to top $125 million. How much of that damage is to rooftop Solar PV? The last massive hail storm in Sydney was in 1999 — but there were hardly any solar panels then.

From SBS News

There are wild scenes and images everywhere.

Worst Sydney hailstorm in 20 years declared catastrophic

Jessica Cortis and Sascha O’Sullivan, The Australian

At least 50,000 homes remain without power in northern Sydney and more than 1000 calls for help are waiting to be responded to by State Emergency Services after Sydney and the NSW central coast were yesterday rocked by the worst hailstorms in almost 20 years.

Before anyone yells “Climate Change”, Reader, Pat, found stories about hail the size of Eggs in Sydney in November 1929. Hail the size of Tennis Balls fell on Reids Creek near Brisbane in 1934 and hail the size of Tea Cups fell on Brookville in 1902. Paddington had “ice inches deep” on Nov 1, 1931. There are scores more Hail-the-size-of… Maybe building 2 million solar panels on a continent with […]

White elephant solar panels: “force-feeding” high voltage, raising costs, breaking things, shutting themselves down

Some days I wonder if I should spread stories that make us sound like a recidivist third-world backwater struggling to maintain our voltage. But the ABC is already smashing away.

Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be another drawback to solar panels, lo! Solar Panels are pushing up the voltage at midday often as high as 253 Volts when it supposed to be more like 230 to 240V. This means appliances are using more electricity, that makes bills even higher. It may also be breaking appliances (making other bills go higher too). We’re not really sure about that, but when that study is done, it’ll already be 1.8 million panels too late.

Non-solar users are paying for this surge (and the appliances) — for every 1% increase in voltage, the costs go up 0.7%. Then, to ice that gravy-cake, the inverters on solar panels are also shutting off at 253V, meaning that poor home owners who paid thousands are not generating power for the grid. All up, solar is bad for you, bad for them, bad for our light-globes.

The warning comes from groups running the electricity networks in Australia.

Spot the key word missing from the ABC headline […]

Turn off all wind and solar at 6pm peak time — makes no difference

All those billions we spent and yet at 6pm, many days coal, gas and hydro provide 98% of the power Australia needs. Wind and solar are our spare bikes, the third ski, the Banana-Slicers of the National Grid (read those reviews). Just what would we do if wind and solar were all we had? — Jo

At peak time intermittent renewables often make less than 2% of total Australian electricity

Guest Post by Anton Lang (TonyFromOz)

h/t to Rafe Campion at Catalaxy

When power is required the most, wind and solar are missing almost entirely. This isn’t cherry picking of one time — peak time is the most important time on the grid, when the most power is required. The almost non-existent contribution from renewables is so common it has occurred now for seven days out of the last 14 days.

I’ve been doing a series on the Australian generation and demand curves on a daily basis for seven weeks, the totals are settling down, so that now the percentage changes are only in tenths of a percent, and consider that when it comes to total power and coal fired power, a tenth of one percent is 600MegaWattHours, so at […]

China: solar stocks plummet as solar subsidies cut to “make electricity cheaper”

Back from travels finally. So much to catch up on.

Last week, the world leading nation in solar panel manufacturing announced big cuts to subsidies in order to make their electricity cheaper. Can you believe? The cuts are big enough for The Motley Fool to headline this “Why the Lights Went Out on Solar Today”. (h.t GWPF)

Image by Snowacinesy

Put this in perspective — in late 2016, Scientific American declared that China Is Dominating the Solar Industry. Apparently, the Chinese forced the prices down, drove US leaders out of business, and the US could only hope to be second. Without a hint of impending doom, Scientific American went on to title one sub-part: AN INDUSTRY PROPELLED BY TAX CREDITS. The Chinese government picked a “winner”, grabbed the industry from all over the world, brought it to China, and ran with it. Now apparently rising electricity prices hurt too much. Who could have seen that coming?

“According to some veterans in the U.S. solar industry, China bought solar companies and invited others to move to China, where they found cheap, skilled labor. Instead of paying taxes, they received tax credits.”

Last week the Chinese government announced […]

Australia: where governments spent thousands to irrigate prime land, then subsidize a solar farm on top

Obviously, if you are a thirsty solar panel, Australia is the place to be. We have ready-made irrigated high quality agricultural land set to be covered with an uneconomic and unreliable solar panels.

Only collective-coerced taxpayers are stupid enough to pay for this.

It’s so silly, groups of unconnected farmers of all different kinds are rallying together to oppose the flagrant waste.

Prime agricultural land loss or booming future energy? That’s the solar planning conundrum for Victoria

Residents near Shepparton are concerned that farmland the Victorian Government has invested in under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan will be lost to agriculture as the state undergoes a solar farm boom.

Four applications for solar farms in the Greater Shepparton region that could produce up to 243 megawatts of electricity have been proposed for Tatura, Tallygaroopna, Lemnos and Congupna, and have been ‘called in’ by the Victorian planning minister.

Critics say there has been no thought put to where the solar farms are being placed and how much prime agricultural land is being lost, and while there is suitable, more arid land available close by.

At least two of the solar farms have […]

Bloodbath in the German solar “industry” — without subsidies 80,000 solar jobs are gone

Climate Worriers have the most terrible luck. All the runes were lined up for Solar power — it is nearly free, pours from heaven, and millions of people seem to need energy “pretty often”. Plus universities and governments have gifted twenty years of free advertising about its Glorious Wonderfulness. Solar power is also used by the Celebrity Saints of Gaia thus filling fashionable, spiritual, and tribal needs. On a good day, it fills some megawatt needs too.

Despite all this, without forced payments from unwilling and unwitting non-users of solar power, investors are fleeing and the solar industry in Germany is collapsing. How can that be?!

Lawrence Solomon: Are solar and wind finally cheaper than fossil fuels? Not a chance

Financial Post

After the German government decided to reduce subsidies to the solar industry in 2012, the industry nose-dived. By this year, virtually every major German solar producer had gone under as new capacity declined by 90 per cent and new investment by 92 per cent. Some 80,000 workers — 70 per cent of the solar workforce — lost their jobs. Solar power’s market share is shrinking and solar panels, having outlived their usefulness, are being retired without […]

Some days one thousand MW of solar vanishes in Australia

The Australian national grid stretches from the tropics to the cold temperate zone from 16S to 43S. You might think that along those 40,000 kilometers of transmission lines there is always somewhere somewhere sunny at midday, but some days you’d be wrong.

James Luffman at WattClarity, noticed this extensive cloud arrangement affecting solar on Friday May 19th. On that day, a one thousand MW generator wasn’t there when it was expected to be.

Cloud patterns on Friday 19th May 2017 – leading to a day of low Solar PV output, NEM-wide

By James Luffman | Published Fri, 25 August 201

Cloud cover over Australia, map, preventing solar PV generation.

How often does this happen? Hard to say, since data on rooftop PV has only just started to be released. It may not be as often as wind turbines, which simultaneously flounder across the whole Australian grid every 10 days or so.

This kind of comma-shaped band of cloud is relatively common over eastern Australia, when you have moisture from the Coral Sea area feeding into a trough with a low-pressure system near SA or VIC.

In this particular case of 19th […]

Rooftop solar destroying baseload profitability and proud of it

What other heavily subsidized industry brags about its ability to provide a product for one quarter of the time it’s needed? Vale sunny-day-solar!

Pick a day, an hour, and what are the chances solar will be there for you? A lot less than one in four, because last Monday’s peak in South Australia was an all time record. Every day in the last year was worse.

And so much for cheap… the price when solar power peaked was still close to $50/MWh. Compare that to most of the years of the national electricity market operating when average prices were $30/Mwh.

The price dip at 6am (the black-line bottomless gully), has nothing to do with solar, but was caused by wind power. Far from being useful, essential, or productive, solar and wind power are playing havoc with a normal market, destroying the chance for cheap, reliable energy to find a place. As long as we force the market to accept this non-dispatchable supply, we are actively punishing reliable power. What investor in reliable energy would look at this and head to South Australia?”

 

Giles Parkinson was excited at Reneweconomy: Rooftop solar provides 48% of South Australia power, pushing grid […]

SA Solar Thermal plant is a copy of US plant that was out of action for one third of its life so far

Crescent Dunes, Solar Thermal Plant, USA. | Wikimedia Author, Amble.

A company called SolarReserve is planning to build the new Aurora 150MW solar thermal plant at Port Augusta, which is apparently a copy of their Crescent Dunes plant in the US. But that project has been offline for most of the time since last October. The whole SA government is meant to be running 24/7 off “solar power”, which allegedly only has about 8 hours of energy stored up (as heat in the molten salt block). So an 8 month break will be a bit of problem for the SA government (except of course, we all know that the real baseload backup here at 4 or 5am everyday, and most of the day in winter, is ultimately the very fossilized gas and coal.) Since the project only began working in Sept 2015 it managed to operate for all of one year and one month before it went offline for 8 months due to a leak. The SA State Energy Minister is not concerned saying it was a construction issue and SolarReserve “have learnt from that”.

The 150MW myth: most of the time it will be less, a lot less […]

Another glorious solar scheme fails ignominiously, “fast clouds”, “rusty pipes”, dumb decisions

Another award winning solar project collapses: it was a $105 million dollar scheme. One company, Areva, lost about $50m and so did the taxpayer. Everything went wrong, management, planning, cheap poor quality steel from China, industrial dispute that left 80% of the pipes rusting on a dock. Three thousand solar reflectors are sitting unused in what was a potato paddock in Dalby. Nobody wants to buy them. They’re obviously worthless. CS Energy is state owned power utility, and it spent $50m but pulled to pin to save wasting another $50m.

In 2011 Julia Gillard raved about how it was going to save 35,000 tons of carbon.

“Ms Gillard says the project could be one of many under the new carbon tax scheme.

“With the clean-energy future I want for our nation, I want it to be a norm,” she said.”

Fans of renewables will cite the management problems as the reason for the failure, not some inherent problem with solar. But the “Clean Energy Culture” is the problem — the same pathetic, uninformed and corrupt decision-making that subsidizes solar so unnecessarily also creates the same dud decisions in management, legal, and industrial relations. The environment […]