Power grids are among the most sophisticated organisms on earth, but they were never designed for the chaos delivered daily by intermittent wind and solar.
For power consumers the first realisation that there’s a problem comes with load shedding (controlled blackouts) or mass blackouts (when the grid manager loses control, altogether).
When sudden and unpredictable collapses of wind power (calm weather) and sudden and wholly predictable collapses of solar power (sunset) coincide with periods of peak demand, it’s candles, torches and Gensets to the rescue. Californians know it, South Australians know it and Texans are learning fast.
In Australia, the hard-green left (Greens and Labor) are determined to wipeout every last coal-fired power plants in the country, rendering power both unaffordable and even more unreliable. Sadly, there are all too many amongst the (notionally conservative) Liberal party eager to assist.
With coal-fired power plants providing more than 70% of electricity consumed across the Eastern Grid, the mathematics is fairly simple: close down another major coal-fired power plants and Australians can get ready for even more time spent boiling or freezing in the dark. Rafe Champion reports.
The coming tipping point in the power supply
29 June 2021
The prospect of a catastrophic and irreversible tipping point in global warming is one of the debating points for climate alarmists. For many reasons the case for that particular tipping point is not sustainable.
No doubt there are tipping points in complex systems and the George Floyd incident could be one of them, after the groundwork started years before with the Ferguson case and some others that didn’t quite get the balloon off the ground.
The situation in the power industry in the western world appears to be approaching a tipping point when the installed capacity of reliable (conventional) power runs down seriously below the level of maximum demand in the grid. The threat has been controlled so far in the public mind by a combination of heroic load shedding and sophisticated grid management with power sharing between nations (and in Australia between the states).
The point is that no amount of installed wind and solar capacity is any use on windless nights. End of story until mass storage at grid scale is feasible and affordable.
The system is clearly on the brink in the UK and parts of Europe that don’t have access to spare power from French nuclear plants, coal from Poland or gas from Mr Putin. In the US, California and Texas are showing the way of the future. South Australia (the wind powerhouse) is our canary in the coalmine.
Consider South Australia. The wind was good this morning, and up to breakfast time it delivered twice the average of the installed capacity of the windmills (60% vs 29%). Across the NEM the supply was well above average as well (apart from Tasmania, the battery of the nation, where it was half the average.) Still, at 8 am SA was importing power from Victoria and gas was providing a third of the local generation. If that is a good wind day, imagine the situation in a wind drought.
Meanwhile in Victoria. Victoria was not only propping up SA, they were also exporting to NSW and Tasmania. The wind was good (40% vs the average 29) but still two-thirds of their power came from coal and gas, mostly coal. The brown coalers running near 100% capacity. And they are going to lose 20% of the coal capacity when Yallourn closes ahead of schedule.
We do not have the luxury of extension cords to places with nuclear power or spare gas and coal power so we are well placed to get to the tipping point first in the world, regardless of the amount of RE that is installed.
For the record. At 8am, coal was providing 73% of the power generated in Queensland (gas 3%) so they could export to NSW where coal was providing 70% of local generation (gas 10%).
via STOP THESE THINGS
July 22, 2021 at 02:30AM