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.