The South Australian Blackout — by Terrence Cardwell.

The South Australian Blackout — by Terence Cardwell, who worked for 25 years for the Electricity Commission of NSW, commissioning and operating the various power units. His last commission was at the Munmorah Power Station near Newcastle, with four (very large!) 350 MW power generating units.

  1. I predicted this would happen back in 2009/10 in my first article, On Coal-fired & Other Power Electricity Generation. This is NOT a once-off event — it will happen again in the not too distant future and continue to do so. Why? Because of the continual instability created in the grid system by the constantly changing wind generators producing insufficient stable and reliable power, and the reliance on power from Victoria, in order to continually get South Australia out of its insane situation.
  2. Any change in power generation from the wind generators has to be compensated by thermal power generation units trying to “chase” and maintain a stable supply. This decreases their efficiency substantially, more than obviating any gain from wind generators! These severe load changes can create a power wave within the grid system that can create instability as the thermal units chase the wind generators’ severe load changes.
  3. Because the winds were so severe on this occasion, the wind generators would have been non-operative and locked. So 40% of the power was already out of service before the blackout. So YES the wind generators DID cause the blackout by increasing the load substantially on the Victoria to S.A. inter-connector.
  4. If the wind generators were allowed to operate in such severe winds they would have torn themselves apart.
  5. I have since learned that the wind generators were supposedly operating, in which case the storm was NOT that severe or anything like ‘a once in 50 year’ storm. From Bureau of Meteorology records the wind was gusting to 87 kilometres per hour and, in some places, 115 kilometres per hour. (In Queensland, with our cyclones, we would refer to that as ‘a steady sea breeze’! So which lie are they choosing to tell? Either the wind generators’ erratic behaviour could not be controlled, thus causing instability in the grid, or they were not operating because of the severity of the wind. You can’t have it both ways!)
  6. It is the first time ever in the history of power generation in Australia that transmission towers have fallen over; yet we have seen far more severe weather elsewhere than that occurring recently in South Australia. I have personally operated units in such weather with no blackouts or instability in the grid system, even though we lost two units, one of them being mine. (The unit transformer was hit by a 20ft sheet of roofing aluminium torn off in the storm.)
  7. Even though the towers had collapsed the grid system would not have gone out because the line protections covering those towers would have tripped within 6 cycles, i.e. one tenth of a second, isolating them from the grid and protecting the rest of the grid system.
  8. The total hypocrisy and stupidity of the South Australian Government is unbelievable. After they blindly and stupidly knocked down the black bituminous coal-fired thermal power stations, they had insufficient power. So they have to import it from Victoria  through the state inter-connector, which was never intended for that purpose. So when it exceeded its maximum load capacity it tripped, as it was supposed to do.
  9. Guess where the power imported from is generated. Yes, Victoria!  The Victorian brown coal-fired thermal power stations have a thermal efficiency half of that of the black coal-fired power stations that the idiots in South Australia knocked down. Just to pander to loony Greens.
  10. The average price for electricity in South Australia with its ‘40%’ renewable energy is over $300 per megawatt hour. The average cost of electricity in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania is around the $75 to $80.
  11. To those gullible people who are so ‘passionate’ about so called ‘clean energy’: you can expect, without doubt, the same if the other states ever got near S.A. insane renewable energy program.

Here is an essay he wrote several years ago.

Another post on the SA power problem.

The coal used by the South Australian coal-fired power stations, although described as “brown” coal in some places, is from the Telford Cut Mine and is “low-grade, sub-bituminous black coal” — which is apparently called also”hard brown coal” or just “brown coal”, but is definitely not lignite. Some earlier versions of this post said “brown”, some said “black.”

The South Australian black out — A grid on the edge. There were warnings that renewables made it vulnerable.

The South Australian black out — A grid on the edge. There were warnings that renewables made it vulnerable. By Joanne Nova.

The Greens are blaming coal (what else?) for causing bad storms and blackouts. Forget that Queensland gets hit with cyclones all the time and the whole state grid doesn’t break. [Cheap pylons in South Australia because they didn’t realize they sometimes get fierce storms?] Some greenies are also raging against “the politicization” of the storms. Yes, Indeedy. Go tell that to Will Steffen.

We are not being told the whole story. We do know that South Australia has the highest emphasis on renewables in the world. It also has a fragile electricity network, and wild price spikes to boot. (Coincidence?) The death of a few transmission towers should not knock out a whole state, nor should it take so long to recover from. …

Digging around I find ominous warnings that while the lightning and winds probably caused the blackout, the state of the South Australian grid appeared to be teetering on the brink, without enough reserve, or without well planned protection mechanisms to cope with an inherently unstable system.  The excess of wind power made the system more fragile, and also made it harder to restore.

There appear to be three reasons (at least) that excessive wind power is less fun, more costly, and golly, but if windmills don’t stop storms, why buy those expensive electrons? …

  1. Wind power adds instability of the system
  2. Wind power can’t be used to reboot the system and SA was getting warnings about that too.
  3. Wind Turbines shut suddenly at high speeds. There is a possibility that a sudden shut down can happen  when turbines are going full tilt in storm force winds hit “danger limits”. …

There was an August warning from Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that SA can’t cope with “contingencies”.

South Austrelaian electricty Debacle - Christian Kerr on Facebook

[Image courtesy of Christian Kerr on Facebook]

Like the botched census a month ago, or the Wivenhoe Dam that flooded Brisbane a few years ago, or the costly desalination plants lying idle in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane, is this yet another case of ignorant and not-very-bright arts students running the place, not understanding the ramification of their decisions, leading to a cock-up? Really, is being proficient in bullying with cries of “racist” a good basis for deciding who gets to make the decisions in our society? These politically-correct fools that our political system is throwing to the top sure keep making a hash of things.

Meanwhile the journalists and politicians are not too technically literate so they do not even ask the right questions. Looks like this imbroglio has been a while in the making, and will take a while to sort out. Read more on Joanne’s blog, including interesting technical discussions in the  comments.

Article by Terrence Cardwell on the same topic.