Wind farms undermine energy security, warns Aussie Government 

Posted: October 6, 2016 by oldbrew in Politics, wind
Tags: ,

Wind farm in South Australia [image credit:]

Wind farm in South Australia [image credit:]

David Crowe in The Australian reports on the row about renewable energy policies in the wake of the storm that crashed South Australia’s entire state power grid. Phrases like ‘reality check’ and ‘sow the wind, reap the whirlwind’ spring to mind.

The Australian government will confront the states over the ­danger of statewide blackouts at an urgent meeting tomorrow to respond to the outage across South Australia last week, amid a furious political fight over ­whether wind farms helped cause the failure.

The states are being warned that their growing use of renewable energy will make their power networks more vulnerable to outages, leaving Australians at risk of blackouts from any repeat of last week’s ferocious storm.

The dispute over wind and solar power hardened yesterday after the energy market operator blamed the South Australian blackout on power failures along three major transmission lines and a subsequent drop in generation at six wind farms, leading to an overload at the crucial interconnector supplying power from Victoria.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told The Australian that ­tomorrow’s meeting with the states would put statewide blackouts on the agenda, with the Australian Energy Market Operator [AEMO] briefing ministers on its findings on the South Australian crisis and the risks for other states.

“Events in South Australia do show an urgent need to look at the reliability and stability of the ener­gy system,” he said. “The risk of statewide blackouts in other states will be part of the questions ministers will ask of AEMO.”

Stepping up pressure on the states to overhaul their renewable energy targets in favour of a ­national approach, Mr Frydenberg warned that intermittent power — such as from wind farms and solar — left customers at risk of further outages.

“It’s undeniable that the growing use of intermittent power has an impact on the system, leaving the states more vulnerable to power outages,” he said. “Wind and solar don’t generate a consistent quantity of power, ­increasing the reliance on interconnectors.”

Malcolm Turnbull savaged South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday, saying he had failed to “keep the lights on” in South Australia.

Source: Aussie Government Warns Wind Farms Undermine Energy Security | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  1. oldbrew says:

    By ‘­increasing the reliance on interconnectors’ they mean more reliable forms of energy generation in other states e.g. Victoria.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Someone spotted the eventual SA problem earlier this year…

    ‘Indeed, the report** notes that frequency control – and the ability to keep the lights on in the event that the state’s interconnector to Victoria goes out – could be critical.’

    **Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration in South Australia (ESCRI-SA)
    From The Australian: ‘…leading to an overload at the crucial interconnector supplying power from Victoria’

    Of course battery storage on a mass scale is unproven and very expensive.

  3. Joe Public says:

    What the SA incident has highlighted, is that the weakness of wind is not its intermittency, but the fact that entire farms shut off virtually instantaneously during maximum productivity for over-speed protection at high wind speeds.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    Joe Public:
    Yes, they shut off virtually instantaneously, just as they start up en mass and disrupt steady supply. Unfortunately the local politicians never shut off, regardless of facts. The behaviour of the State Premier Weatherill is such that I have doubts about his sanity. He is frantically repeating any snippet from the AEMO Interim Report that he can construe as favourable to wind energy and ignoring everything else. He still claims that SA need more wind turbines.
    He is not alone in this with an assortment of non-engineers busy prescribing the truth as they see it. I cannot see any rational decision being made and SA will go into the coming summer with the almost certain blackouts on very hot days when demand peaks and supply from Victoria is curtailed because of overheating cables, just when the wind dies down.
    I am seeking advice on what size generator to install.

  5. oldbrew says:

    It seems a point can be reached in power grids when a domino effect takes over if too many failures occur in a short space of time. If renewables make that result more likely, some sort of solution is called for. Limiting the percentage of renewables in the system looks the most obvious one, in the short term at least. What Will You Do When The Lights Go Out? The Inevitable Failure Of The US Grid

    Using data from the United States Department of Energy, the International Business Times reported in 2014 that the United States suffers more blackouts than any other developed country in the world.

    Some of that could be due to difficult weather e.g. tornadoes. But they want to rely increasingly on wind power.

  6. thefordprefect says:

    If a power grid is short circuit (or o/c) then no generator of any type will feed into it. They will automatically isolate.
    Wind speed only gusted to above the max speed for normal turbines so would have recovered quickly. Not so for the power grid lines.

    Note that the interconnector similarly disconnected on overload – would you suggest that this should have continued to supply power to a shorted grid?

    The report is interim and so it is worth waiting to get the CORRECT data before slagging off turbines as the cause

  7. Wayne Job says:

    The storm was not that bad and the towers came down with winds under 100KPH. The towers were built to a cheap budget in 1960 with a forty year life span. It has been noted that the way the power surges were going could have caused overheating in the cables especially at the splices and caused cables to drop. The out of balance then caused towers to fail.It has been noted that the towers failed after the wind generators failed, so the lights were already out.
    This sort of storm was pretty ordinary for OZ and towers are rated for much higher winds.The stupidity of a state throwing money at renewable??? power and allowing its basic infrastructure to fall into disrepair is disgraceful.

  8. oldbrew says:

    The GWPF report ended with this, most of which was not included in our post:

    Malcolm Turnbull savaged South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday, saying he had failed to “keep the lights on” in South Australia. The comments came after the AEMO report ­revealed the loss of wind power ­before last week’s blackout contributed to the state demanding so much baseload power from Victoria that its main interconnector overloaded and shut down.

    AEMO confirmed yesterday that 10 wind farms in South Australia had been ordered to limit generation on an ongoing basis, as it was concerned a failure, or trip, of multiple generators could re-occur following another disruption to the unstable grid.

    The implication there is that the wind power shutdown took place before the extra demand to the interconnector, which it couldn’t handle.

  9. Dave Ward says:

    “Limiting the percentage of renewables in the system looks the most obvious one, in the short term at least”

    Another solution would be to utilise the remote shut off capability of the Smart Meters we are all being urged to have. But this should only be applied to any customer on a “Green” energy tariff. Result – reducing demand at times of low wind and solar production, with the extra benefit of educating these deluded idiots in the most practical way…

  10. oldbrew says:

    Renewable Power Australia – Green Hypocrites Exposed By South Australia Storm

    By Andrew Bolt ~
    Wow, the hypocrisy. Check the global warmists now attacking Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for making “political points” about the weather.

    Pot, meet kettle. How we laughed.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    Electrical generation HAS to be dependable.Any supplier MUST be dependable. Wind farms should be REQUIRED provide their own backup.Wind and Solar are getting a free ride on the backs of real Electrical Power Generators as well as the rate payers and taxpayers…pg

  12. Curious George says:

    The real question is, will it happen again, and how frequently?

  13. We’ve already had large power cuts in the UK because of wind ( But as you might expect occurring in Scotland – the banana republic of wind – where we have gormless politicians who tell the public “Scotland will live off oil” one day and then “Scotland is going 100% unreliables” the next … the Scottish Government & the power companies who make so much money from wind just lied about the incident.

  14. Don Keiller says:

    Over reliance on wind power is an accident waiting to happen.
    Events like this will happen more often as power generation by subsidy-driven unreliables increases.
    Hopefully politicians the world over will take a reality check.

  15. tom0mason says:

    When you have both the load varying and the generators output varying then any method of graded protection to protect the grid becomes fraught. Currently it is attempted to be managed by digital communications and software. Maintaining grid integrity and reliable supply has become a feature of the software and the programmers’ art.

  16. Graeme No.3 says:

    Curious George:
    Yes, it will happen again, and in the coming summer when peak demand occurs. There is no time to change the system before then, especially as the State government is hysterically denying there is a problem. The wind turbines are set to shut down at 40℃ and the interconnector cables are limited in capacity as they heat.
    People don’t like it when their air-conditioning doesn’t work, although home airconditioning doesn’t amount to that big an extra load, but that is the traditional excuse by the State government. What is the saying about camels and a bit of straw?

  17. Dave Ward says:

    “The wind turbines are set to shut down at 40℃”

    I’ve not heard of this before. What is the reason – are they afraid the alternators will overheat, or the gearboxes (when fitted)? Surely, in either case, limiting the output would be sufficient?

  18. ivan says:

    Jo Nova has done a good job of looking at the AEMO report and the consequences.

  19. I noticed this the other day. Just goes to show that nobody pays attention to the folk on the factory floor.

  20. Graeme No.3 says:

    Dave Ward:
    Afraid of overheating the lubricating oil and starting a fire? There were a couple of fires in summer caused by turbines in very hot weather. One burnt out hundreds of hectares in the SE of the State. There was talk of legislating that they shut down at 38℃ but that seems to have been spin until the media lost interest.
    The computer controls (batteries?) are apparently dodgy at 44℃, so the turbine owners mention this shutdown on their web site.

  21. AlecM says:

    15 years ago, I was waylaid by FoE people on my way to hear NuLaber’s Science Minister, History and Psychology graduate Lord David Sainsbury. The FoE people told me how wonderful the new, pan-European windmill virtual power station would be. I told the earnest young man that our Grid, no hydro, could only take 20% renewables because of the need for grid inertia; giant turbines, high angular momentum, to maintain grid frequency control, also to give black start capability.

    This would only be possible in a CO2-free form with nuclear power stations. The earnest young man was whipped away by two FoE harpies for re-education. In 2003, the Energy White Paper, organised by Prescott, set out to create the virtual power station. At that time I still believed the GISS and Hadley people were honest.

    In early 2010, I found evidence that the cloud optical physics at the heart of the models is wrong. I have now worked out the extent of the climate fraud and how it was ultimately caused by misinterpreting Max Planck’s 1913 thermodynamic analysis of radiation which they believe is sacrosanct – in reality there is on average zero surface IR heating of the atmosphere; no need for fraud to justify settled past science. It ain’t settled; more later.

    However, we’re stuck with the CCA 2008 and our Grid has almost become unstable twice this year -early May and mid September. We can’t build nuclear in time. No company will invest in CCGTs, predicted in the 2009 Poyry Report. There is a technical solution and it’ll save a tremendous amount of [CO2] emissions. This information went to Government 6 years ago but Huhne and Davey were intent on destroying the power Grid. This winter, expected to be as bad as 1962 – 63, the Grid will fail under stress because with Central Europe ~8 K lower than normal, the 3 GW interconnect that the National Grid Company uses as a profit centre will stop. The extra death toll could be over 100,000 and may cause the government to fall because it was all avoidable. Meanwhile all energy ministers who have ceased to be MPs work for renewables’ companies. You couldn’t make up this level of incompetence.

  22. AlecM says:

    Post 2010 energy ministers.

  23. oldbrew says:


    “This has been very much a Labor obsession, to set these heroic renewable energy targets,” [PM] Turnbull told an Adelaide radio station. “They assume that they can change the composition of the energy mix and that energy security will always be there and the lights will stay on, and that has been brought into question.”

    It’s only what numerous observers have been predicting for years. How could intermittent electricity generation NOT lead to a destabilised power grid, sooner or later?

  24. p.g.sharrow says:

    The problem is one of energy storage, not energy generation. Commercial Wind and Solar companies do not provide for energy storage. They shirk this requirement off on the backs of other generators to reduce their costs and increase their profits. Real Electrical Power Generators have huge investments in fuel supplies and infrastructure to be dependable suppliers. Grid tied wind and solar suppliers that do not provide this backup are committing fraud on both real electrical power suppliers as well as the customers and tax

  25. oldbrew says:

    Independent review to examine Australian power blackout

    They’ve already worked out that the renewables in place now don’t have enough ‘back-up’. So ordering more is not likely to be the answer.

  26. pochas94 says:

    “frequency control – and the ability to keep the lights on in the event that the state’s interconnector to Victoria goes out – could be critical.”

    Australia needs synchronization via a national clock that transmits a signal that all power sources can see and to which they synchronize. Individual generators that attempt to synchronize to whatever signal is present on the power line is a recipe for disaster. This problem is fixable.

  27. p.g.sharrow says:

    Frequency control on the Grid is a matter of generator management, “Generators” push up and “motors” drag down the system frequency. 3 phase motors and 3 phase generators are very similar and try to spin in lock step. The grid frequency is the clock that is managed to match an independent clock to maintain system design frequency. The greater the difference between grid frequency and motor/generator “speeds” the greater the amperage flow or load shifting that attempts to take place. Too much amperage flow and Max Smoke!…pg

  28. oldbrew says:

    They can try all sorts of things, but if they’re not generating enough electricity due to bad weather and/or technical problems they’ll still be looking for something to bail them out, and that something isn’t going to be more renewables.

  29. p.g.sharrow says:

    The only real long term solution to providing electrical power for a modern civilization is Nuclear.

    I have studied every kind of energy production for nearly 60 years an always reach the same conclusion. Industrial strength, dependable clean energy production, where you need it, when you need it, can only be provided by some kind of Atomic Energy. Every thing else is a stopgap or a short term solution,
    I prefer Solar, but I’m a farmer in California with lots of sun. But such a system is expensive, labor intensive, and has a fairly high maintenance cost due to the needed batteries. But at least I can control it’s operation. A dependable grid supply is the better solution and just pay the bill!…pg

  30. oldbrew says:

    Lubos Motl discusses a new variation of energy storage…

    A recent blackout in Australia has been blamed on the irregular sources of energy, especially the wind turbines, by some people including the prime minister. Others disagree.

    A U.S. company named ARES wants to do a simple thing: build a railroad that leads nowhere and whose task isn’t to transfer people. Instead, there’s a heavy train on the tracks. When there’s excess electricity in the grid, the train is driven to go up and collect the potential energy. When the electricity is missing, the train generates it by rolling down.

  31. oldmanK says:

    From pg sharrow ” dependable clean energy production, where you need it, when you need it.”

    That is the primary consideration. Demand is variable, so it cannot be matched economically from a single source with a limited response characteristic. Having the right mix of plant is essential, as is control of its overall choice. Passing that responsibility into private hands proved losing control of cost and eventually also of reliability.

  32. AlecM says:

    An alternative wind power storage technique is to buy up old supertankers and fit them as pumped storage systems; about 70 ft fll from empty would be as efficient as the dam which powers the capital of New Brunswick – Fredericton.

    PS NB is the home of McCain’s chips!

  33. […] Source: Wind farms undermine energy security, warns Aussie Government  […]

  34. oldbrew says:

    Some kind of early warning system in severe weather conditions might also be useful. No use pulling the emergency cord after the train has hit the buffers i.e. wind turbines have all shut down at the same time.

  35. hunter says:

    If someone from another time before wind power looked at the photo of the huge windmills, I would bet that unbiased person would guess that wind power was some sort of anti-environmental group run amuck.

  36. oldbrew says:

    Jo Nova: How much wind power can a grid handle?

    The public are being put on the receiving end of a hugely expensive and risky experiment with their electricity supplies.

  37. p.g.sharrow says:

    The Wind Electrical Power industry is a fine example of Crony Capitalism, Providing an essential service managed by Politicians. High cost, poor service, environmental degradation. Followed by the claim that a doubling of the effort will improve the outcome!

    The only way to improve the electrical production from Wind Farms is to SCRAP THEM!