oldephartte (oldephartte) wrote,

Peak Power : Jettisoning Reliable Generation

An interesting observation tucked away in the AER report: “AEMO required at least three gas generators in South Australia to operate at all times from July 2017, to help maintain system security, which contributed to high levels of gas fired generation through 2017 and constrained wind generation at times”.
Yet more wind farms are being built to meet the 23.5% RET by 2020, without backup. “There is around 3800 MW of capacity (1800 MW of wind and solar each) that is committed to being built across the NEM, according to AEMO.”


As market share increases the capacity factor becomes constrained as a geometric progression. This paper puts into clear perspective for the German grid:

If you bought solar panels and placed them on your roof with the intention of going off-grid you would soon find that the potential capacity factor is nothing like the constrained capacity factor. For example, during January when my off-grid demand is greatest I have the battery fully charged at 10am on most days. The solar panels do nothing from 10am to 8pm although they could if I had other loads to supply. By contrast in late June when the load is least (fridge and freezer) the battery may not recover any day for a week.

To meet a daily demand equivalent to the current NEM demand there needs to be around 100 times the present wind capacity of 4GW; say 400GW to meet a typical demand of 30GW. Clearly the constrained capacity factor is much lower than the unconstrained capacity factor. AER are suggesting the constrained capacity factor is being caused by stability constraints but the constraints are as much due to the variability of the wind. For example the minimum demand in SA was 530MW in 2017 and is continuing to decline. The State has 1600MW of installed wind capacity and the Vic link can only handle 600MW so it is inevitable that the wind generators will be demand constrained more often. The penny is yet to drop with wind and solar project proponents.

None of this comes across in the AER submission to the AEMO-ISP:

This submission makes some serious points that I expect will not get into the ISP:

This one shows the real world away from big business and big government:

This one from Dow Chemical pushes their own barrow but also makes valid points on prices and industry closures:

The summary from AEMO does recognise the likelihood that local generation (DER) will be increasing. This is a point that many of the distributors made. There does not appear to be any acknowledgement of the need for better modelling. There is a general acceptance that having geographic dispersion of wind and solar all connected on a solid grid will solve the problem.

Surprisingly SACOSS focused on model granularity:
Some of the distributors mentioned granularity.

SnowyHydro has an interesting chart for the projected 2025 demand:
It shows the destruction of base demand for coal generation. That will threaten the viability of more coal generators.

This is the AEMO summary:

This link has all the submissions listed with links to them:

I cannot see any of this leading to lower prices. Herald Sun had a brief story on rising disconnections in Victoria.

Mark M

Best Easter laugh goes to PM Twistcow and his Easter message of compassion for Australians worse off.

The same ones he screws over with expensive electricity to placate his United Nations.
* * *
It’s not as if there weren’t warnings …

Jun 2015,
Port Augusta power stations, Leigh Creek coal mine closures set to drive up electricity prices, economist says


CSIRO, dec 2015
We expect retail prices to rise further in coming decades, but not as much as we originally thought.


~ ~ ~

South Australia is a world leader in wind and solar power generation.

“The big challenge is that they can’t be switched on when you need them.

So they run when the wind is blowing, they run when the sun is shining.

The challenge with renewables is that they are fundamentally more expensive to supply than thermal generation.

If they were cheaper, we wouldn’t need a carbon price, we wouldn’t need renewable policy to bring them to market.

Matthew Warren is the chief executive of the Energy Supply Association of Australia.


* * *
2013, Julia Gillard @2.25:Now I want to build the transmission lines that will bring that clean, green energy into the national grid.”

2017: Overspending on ‘poles and wires’ is the key reason why electricity prices have soared in Australia


how often do we hear renewables aren’t responsible for higher electricity prices. and that “poles and wires” play a big part, etc. but what percentage of the cost of “poles and wires” can be laid at the feet of “renewables” policies? that is something I have never seen properly explained. however, the same mob that pushed/push “renewables”, scream the most:

25 Mar: ABC: Grattan Institute urges compensation for higher power bills caused by energy grid ‘gold plating’
Consumers must be compensated for higher bills caused by the excessive “gold-plating” of electricity networks and the value of energy assets should be written down, according to a report out today.
The Grattan Institute blames “poor decisions” by governments in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania for driving unnecessary investment in power networks, which has ultimately left consumers footing the bill.

In the Down to The Wire report (LINK), the Grattan Institute estimates consumers in those three states are being slugged between $100 and $400 more a year as investment outstripped population growth and demand.
“Consumers connected to the National Electricity Market are paying for a power grid that grew from around $50 billion in 2005 to $90 billion today,” the report said.
“The expenditure significantly outstripped growth in population, demand and even peak demand…
“There have been some improvement in reliability of supply but not enough to justify the expenditure involved.”…

In the case of NSW with the sale of Ausgrid, the report said the State Government should provide a rebate “to compensate consumers for historic over-investment”.
The over-investment in energy infrastructure — or “poles and wires” — comes as the Federal Government pressures the energy industry to deliver relief to consumers and businesses reeling from surging energy prices…

“Continuing high prices will lead to inefficient future investment decisions, contributing to the ‘death spiral’ for networks.
“Consumers who can afford it may reduce their grid use through solar power, batteries or diesel generation. Meanwhile, those who cannot end up paying more for the same grid.”

ABC piece is by:

senior business correspondent Peter Ryan


how ABC has been spinning this story for years:

Apr 2015: ABC: Electricity should cost more in peak periods, Federal Government white paper says
The World Today By political correspondent Louise Yaxley
People should pay more for power used at peak times and should be better able to take advantage of off-peak rates to reduce electricity bills, the Federal Government’s energy white paper says.

The paper also suggested the rise in air conditioner use on hot days had driven up electricity prices because ensuring the power remained on in those peak periods meant heavy investment in the poles and wires network.
The white paper said that investment was behind the sharp rise in electricity prices over the last few years.

***It found the carbon tax and solar feed-in tariffs also played a part but had a smaller role…

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said he wanted consumers to have more control over how much they were spending on power.
“We support the introduction of smart meters – that is – meters which will allow consumers not only to tell how much electricity they’re consuming at any point in time, but also what it’s costing them,” he said.
“And with that then comes the technology which allows them to be flexible about when they used that appliance.
“Now in the case of refrigerators, it’s a non-optional appliance, you run your refrigerator all the time, but in terms of when you do your washing, when you do your ironing, when you run your pool pump, how you cycle your air conditioning, those are options which can be managed through a smart meter.”…

It noted some questions about fairness saying some people could not change their consumption to avoid peak times but Mr Macfarlane said most consumers would benefit from having higher tariffs at peak times and lower charges for other times.
“The opportunity, particularly for high energy households, to save money through the use of smart meters and technology, time of use charging and varying the times they use their significant consumers of electricity and their appliances, will allow households to manage their demand better and also then enable the networks to be built and maintained in a way that keeps the capital costs down,” he said…

Air conditioning was singled out as a fairness issue.
The white paper said large air conditioning consumers were subsidised by people who did not have air conditioning at all.
It found the real cost of using an air conditioner during peak times was $1,000 a year because that reflected the investment needed in the network to ensure the power demand was met on extremely hot days.
But the person with that air conditioner would only pay $300 more on their bill and the other $700 would be spread between all other power users…

Mr Macfarlane reinforced that the recent heavy investment in the power networks caused the higher power bills.
“What we have done in Australia over recent years is literally gold-plate the distribution network which consumers will end up paying for,” he said.
“And if you look at the cost of electricity, whilst the costs at the power station has basically remained static for over a decade, the cost to consumers has doubled and a lot of that cost increase has come from the distribution network…

“So in the end, even with a smart meter, a consumer can use electricity whenever they feel like it, but they will pay more at certain times and less at certain times and on the swings and roundabouts they’ll pay less overall.”…
The white paper also encouraged the privatisation of state energy assets, arguing private ownership was more productive.


28 Mar: Daily Caller: REPORT: Coal Plants Facing Closure Prevented ‘Widespread Blackouts’ This Winter
by Michael Bastasch
Energy analysts at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory found (LINK) that coal power kept the lights on for millions of Americans during the bomb cyclone that pummeled the eastern U.S. from late December to early January.

NETL analysts found that coal plants made up most of the incremental power utilities relied on to keep electricity flowing during the cold snap. Nuclear and oil power plants played a big role, NETL found, but coal provided 55 percent of extra power across six grid operators…READ ON

29 Mar: WUWT: Anthony Watts: DOE: If it weren’t for coal-fired electricity plants, the Northeast would have blacked-out during recent bomb-cyclone
From the “when the going gets tough, renewables can’t cut it” department. Wind power generation actually dropped 5% during this period
From the Daily Caller: Coal-fired power plants kept the lights on for millions of Americans during January’s bomb cyclone, according to an Energy Department report warning future plant retirements could imperil grid security…READ ON


I take the view that if you are going to educate people you need to be honest. Give them the true picture not some rose coloured version that understates the cost by a factor of 6 to 10.

The cost to replace the existing coal generation in the existing NEM with wind and solar plus storage is estimated at AUD1.5tr. Even CSIRO are forecasting close to AUD1tr:
See page 9. Note their roadmap is not a simple replacement but very heavily focused on distributed generation and storage. Replacement of grid scale coal generation with grid scale wind and solar is considerably more expensive than AUD1tr.

We have all State governments and the Federal Government, including the Federal opposition, set on this path of economic Armageddon for Australia. People need to realise this and be vocal against it.

Of the 64 submissions to the AEMO ISP process there were only three waving a red flag. Very few people have any appreciation of the true picture. In my view there is no point in giving anyone some sugar coated version of the true picture. There is an economic disaster unfolding.

On a related matter, SA businesses feel they are bearing an unfair share of the pain of the Federal Government Paris commitment and feel the pain should be spread more evenly:

It is our view that the costs of achieving a national emissions reduction task, to the extent that is practicable, should be evenly distributed, no differently to how the existing system of horizonal fiscal equalisation of the GST works to even out GST payments to mitigate against the natural advantages one state might have over another, for example access to mineral resources.

What they do not appreciate is that this is only the beginning of the pain. It is going to get a lot worse. The other States are a long way behind SA and SA is already costing the other States dearly as we see with the closure of Hazelwood. AND note the higher costs in Queensland wholesale market as a result. All primarily caused by the high penetration of wind and solar in SA. So SA is already sharing the pain but not in an obvious way.

Tags: electricity, generation costs, public utilities
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