Renewable records tumble? How the ABC turns a grid headache into a glorious solar achievement

With all the calm language of a paid ad agency, the ABC is breathless because an esoteric measure called “minimum operational demand” has hit a record or two. This glorious moment may have only lasted 30 minutes, and it isn’t actually a useful thing, but it’s a “record”.

In fact, “minimum  operational demand” is a grid management headache, not a badge of honor. It’s the midday moment when solar panels all work — and it’s becoming such a problem that two states in Australia have said all new solar panels need “smart” controllers so that the guys in the central control rooms can turn the darn things off. That’s how good it is.

by ABC Energy Propaganda Reporter, Daniel Mercer

Soaring power production from households and businesses with rooftop solar panels has sent records tumbling across Australia as output from fossil fuels falls to all-time lows.

The record so-called minimum operational demand excludes the power generated by consumers with their own solar panels, which met 92 per cent of South Australia’s overall needs at one point on October 17.

The surge in power at midday forces the rest of the reliable generators to spin their wheels, running inefficiently, while they wait to be allowed back to do what they could have done all along without all the stopping and starting. It’s a miles per gallon kind of thing. Solar power makes the whole grid less efficient.

Here’s South Australia on October 16th setting a record in vanity-electricity:

 

 

The achievement is that the grid is so overdeveloped that it had twice as many generators as it needed at midday. Briefly, rooftop solar was making 92% of all the electricity the state could use.

Solar panels are the roadworks on the grid freeway that slows down the trucks and cars that are doing something useful. They provide poor quality electricity, which needs back up, frequency stabilizers, storage, long transmission lines, huge subsidies and large holes in the ground to store all the waste. Not to mention slave labor too. What’s not to like?

Having one “generator” supplying the whole state makes the grid more fragile — all it takes is one cloud bank to roll in, and a Gigawatt can disappear, just like that. A few years ago we came close to a crash on the East Coast because lightning hit the grid, and badly installed panels tripped out with minor frequency wobbles. As many as a third of the rooftop solar panels in South Australia bailed themselves out just when we needed them.  Solar panels also cause surges at midday that can push the grid up to 253 volts (when it should be 240). The surges may be breaking appliances, and it costs more on your electricity bill too.

This AEMO graph below shows the exotic but mindless concept of “Instantaneous renewable penetration”. It creates the illusion that this concept is a long term meaningful attribute, when really this is just the peak half hour in a three month period, or 1 part in 4,000 of what we really need. This represents just the leading creeping edge of the fantasy. 99.99% of the time, the world doesn’t look like this.

Instantaneous renewables, AEMO, Q3, 2022, Report, Graph.

AEMO Q3 report. 2022.

The fine print:

28Instantaneous renewable penetration is calculated using the NEM renewable generation share of total generation The measure is calculated on a half-hourly basis, because this is the granularity of estimated output data for distributed PV.

If they could have estimated the five minute peak of solar, they would have.

Other posts on solar

REFERENCES

AEMO ReportsQ3 2022 Quarterly Energy Dynamics, PDF

Clean Energy Regulator 2022, Small-scale technology certificates

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November 2, 2022 at 04:09PM

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