South Australia Province 'Sheds Power' During Heatwave

Submitted by: 5cats 1 year ago in Science

Despite some preparations, the electric grid in South Australia had a blackout for 90,000 customers because there simply was no more power. Officials will either have to 'shed power' (dump customers off the grid) to lower use or the whole system could collapse. And the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) officials warn their customers that things could get worse if this happens more frequently.

The main cause of this lack of power is the shutting down of a major coal-fired plant in Port Augusta -- that and no wind. This crisis could spread to New South Wales as they will close a large coal plant there too.

It's been said many times: every MW of Green Power (wind and solar) except nuclear requires an equal MW of dependable backup. So AEMO plans are being made to build a large, gas-fired plant, or to build another long 'interconnecter' link at a cost of billions. This should have been thought of before the wind and solar projects were even started, and certainly before the coal back-up was shut down.

The costs, both monetary and environmental, for these back-ups must be factored into any honest accounting of the real costs of 'green energy.'

There are 26 comments:
820
While, yes, this is a cock-up, it's also worth noting when talking about costs that the Australian state (we have states, not Canuckistan-style provinces, by the way) with the most expensive electricity is Queensland, and it has purely fossil-fuel electricity.  The other states mix to greater or lesser extent, and consumer prices are less than queensland, and don't have blackouts like the SA one.
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Male 8,989
barry9a Good info. Thanks, Barry. Glad to see another Australian on here.
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Male 1,319
squrlz4ever Thank goodness the cool change finally came in...just got home from work, and at 1230am it's down to 19.5C (67F) in Adelaide. (slightly higher in the Northern suburbs, where I live)...
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Male 42,934
buttersrules that is great news indeed, have a frosty beverage in the shade buttersrules!
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Male 8,989
buttersrules I've been reading about the record-breaking heat you Aussies have been experiencing. You have my sympathies. According to this article in The Guardian, areas around Ivanhoe (in the SE of the country) could experience temperatures of 48 deg. C this weekend (that's 118 deg. F to us Yanks). Yowza.
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Male 1,319
squrlz4ever the heatwave has passed in SA, but NSW and Qld are still copping it. FYI, Ivanhoe is in western NSW, not in the SE. I notice from the article that Hay got up to 47.4 on Friday...I used to pass through there all the time, it's on one of the more direct routes from SA through to Wagga (where I used to live, and my sister still does), which then continues on to Sydney....

5Cats, I'd have a beer under the moonlight, cos I'm on afternoon shift atm, but ironically it's a little chilly outside atm (1am), so I'm having it inside instead!

Thankfully, despite the heat, we've not had any major bushfires this season. Last year we had a doozy in the Adelaide Hills, and just to the north of the city, with a number of fatalities.

On topic, though, as a long term Adelaide resident (25+ years out of the last 35), blackouts in summer are nothing new. Particularly with some of the extremes we get in relation to weather, here. Irrespective of any of the rights/wrongs of the push for renewable energy, or of shutting down the coal powerstations in Port Augusta (or elsewhere), the fact of the matter is that load shedding, and rolling blackouts during extreme weather events (in SA) has been going on for years, long before the P.A shutdown, and long before the push for renewable alternatives. I remember years ago, it used to be much, much worse than it currently is, in all honesty.  And I think last Septembers blackout should be eliminated from the discussion, as it was an unprecedented situation, due to a cyclone knocking out the transmission infrastructure. SA isn't prone to cyclones, I've never known conditions like we had that day, it was just crazy...

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Male 8,989
buttersrules Got it. I actually meant the SE of the country as a whole, i.e., the Australian continent. My knowledge of Australian geography is next-to-nil, so I'm working on the very big picture here.

Just looked up Ivanhoe on Google Maps. Good heavens, that is a remote, tiny, and very, very flat place! Population: 200. I can't imagine living there.

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Male 1,319
SA had sufficient generation capacity to avoid the load shed, from Pelican Point (gas powered). 

 State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said: “Every South Australian has a right to be angry. We had spare capacity in the SA generation market and the market didn’t turn that generation on.” 

Article here

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Male 607
This is why I like those under the sea turbines. The waves are always waving.
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Male 42,934
Oh, just for the Lolz!
http://reneweconomy.com.au/aemo-says-wind-farm-changes-mean-sa-blackout-wont-repeated-43631/

For some reason? Someone in the AEMO claimed blackouts wouldn't happen again... even thought the AEMO is warning that it will.
And 2 days later? This story happened... Sigh!
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/sa-loses-power-in-another-wind-farm-fail/news-story/8e5db34f658a3153f7f0a8d91a077b82

To be fair, it could be he was referring to the 100K blackout in Western Australia last September, at least partially... but it shows that all "experts" are only right until they're proven wrong :p Take what they say with a grain of salt, eh?
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Male 42,934
As predicted, brown-outs and black-outs are what you get from a "Green Grid". It happens every time, unless there's plenty of back-up or they can import power from outside their nation.
That is the real cost of "Going Green" and it never gets counted. Both monetary and pollution-wise. 

Note that the reason these plants were shut down is not because wind and solar are cheaper, but because they get MASSIVE subsidies so they can sell their power cheaper (this is mentioned in the article). So the Taxpayer is in fact paying all that $$ one way or another.

Nuclear is the only realistic option for many nations, and if it wasn't for the "Environmentalists" of the 70's and 80's? We'd all have a much cleaner, cheaper and safer power grid. So why are modern "environmentalists" to be believed? They're essentially the exact same bunch that were 100% wrong so many times before.
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Male 42,934
5cats Aside from the AGW arguments, when the "environmentalists" tell us that replacing oil and coal-fired plants with "green energy" will lower costs and lower pollution? They are bare-faced lying. You cannot "replace" coal with wind, unless you want to end up like SA with blackouts on a regular basis. You must replace it with wind AND Gas-fired... but what real benefit is there in that? You're still getting pollution, and the Wind Farms cost a fortune! It may be a bit cleaner, but at a gigantic cost. Why not just replace the coal with gas in the first place? Same lowering of pollution, for about 1/3 the price! And no massacre of birds.

Or better than anything else: replace them with nuclear! But remember, these are (essentially) the same people who opposed ALL nuclear power for decades now; they are hard-core anti-nuclear and not likely to ever change their minds.
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Male 6,496
5cats This is so sad. You wanted a fight with this post and all you ended up doing is arguing with yourself. I hope there's someone in your home to give you a hug.
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Male 42,934
markust123 Even NF2 found his manners, but YOU had to come and shit out a hate-filled remark, eh? Oh the irony! 
And the ESP! Claiming I "wanted a fight" now? Fuck you too. Making shit up that I never said, AGAIN, and then attacking for it. Unbelievable. 
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Male 6,496
5cats Really? Really?
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Male 42,934
markust123 Yes really, shit-for-brains. Everyone else has been calm and reasonable, even some who have 'poor' reputations. But not you! Personal attack and nothing but, and having to make shit up to do so? Fuck off already. Bye!
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Male 558
Nuclear is the way to go.  Modern technology has made them very safe and efficient.
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Male 1,062
mentott510 Nuclear is a good stop gap but there is nuclear waste to consider. Renewables are also a stop gap as the ultimate aim would really be fission energy.
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Male 42,934
mrteatime There is a perfect place for the nuclear waste in the USA... Yucca Mountain. But Obama killed it in his first week of office.
It has been studied for 30+ years, millions and even billions have been spent getting it ready. It is without question the best place for N-waste, bar none. FAR BETTER than what is being done now... but Obama killed it. Look it up.
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Male 1,062
5cats I'm not interested in the politics here, just the fact that nuclear waste is an issue and one which carries a very significant legacy regardless of how well we deal with it today.
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Male 42,934
mrteatime Yes, it is a big issue! that's why it was studied for 20+ years!
And other nations have their own issues too, IDK what France does, for example. No idea.

But America has a PERFECT place to put literally millions of tons of the stuff, safe and secure forever.
And the fact is: that stuff is sitting around now, Unsafe, Unsecure and very much more expensive! And sometimes very close to large populations.

Something has to be done, it cannot stay like this, they will run out of room and then what? But Obama killed it, and kicked the can 8 years down the road... 
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Male 5,188
Except maybe on islands that are prone to earthquakes and tsunami. 

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Male 42,934
trimble Even then? Many of Japan's coastal plants survived the massive tsunami intact, including Fukushima's "sister" just a few kilometers away... it was lazy and cheap government officials that caused the accident, not design, not location, and certainly not the Nuclear Industry who wanted the higher sea-wall but couldn't get it built...
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Male 2,109
mentott510 Thorium reactors are slowly moving forward with India set to start use sometime last year according to older articles (from 2014).  The safety of Thorium systems is the biggest key as the material is easier to manage and has no weaponized versions that we know of which will make production and transportation much more economical.
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Male 1,835
Should be making nuclear plants.
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Male 9,459
The costs, both monetary and environmental, for these back-ups must be factored into any honest accounting of the real costs of 'green energy.'

No argument with that point.
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