Australian Heatwave Excuses

The Australian heatwave of 2017 should be a wakeup call that renewables are unreliable, and not be the basis for excuses in efforts to explain away the recent South Australia blackouts.

The South Australia government had been warned about the inability of wind to provide electricity when the last coal-fired power plant in South Australia was closed, May, of last year.

Instead, the labor government extolled the virtues of renewable energy for cutting CO2 emissions, and forged ahead with wind power.

In the United States, grid operators have always maintained a reserve capacity of 5 to 10%, so that electricity would be available when unexpected events, such as heatwaves, occurred.

Capacity, i.e., the ability to generate electricity, is measured in terms of megawatts. In the United States total capacity is now over 1,000,000 MW. Anticipated demand would be around 5 to 10% below this capability to generate electricity. Since the United States is divided into three separate grids, with regional operators within each grid, it’s the capacity within each region that is critical.

The problem with wind turbines is that their nameplate rating is approximately three times larger than their ability to generate electricity. Most wind turbines installed in the United States over the past decade have a nameplate rating of 1.5 MW, but have a capacity factor of around 30%. In essence, they produce the amount of electricity that a 0.5 MW unit would produce if it had a capacity factor of 100%.

Capacity factor is the amount of electricity a wind turbine, or any other power generation method, produces over a year, compared with how much it could theoretically produce based on its nameplate rating.

Coal-fired and natural gas power plants have capacity factors of around 80%, while nuclear power plants have a capacity factor of slightly over 90%.

In other words, wind can’t provide electricity when the wind doesn’t blow, but its nameplate rating has been included, by the unwary, in the total capacity of the grid, and is, therefore, inadvertently included as part of the reserve capacity.

Only baselaod generating capabilities, i.e., coal, natural gas, nuclear, and, usually, hydro, can be included when determining the capacity of the grid to provide electricity under any circumstance, including heatwaves.

In South Australia, demand has exceeded supply twice this year when renewables failed to provide electricity.

In the first instance, the entire state of South Australia was blacked out. In the second, only Adelaide suffered a blackout.

Instead of recognizing the inherent unreliability of wind and solar, the Labor Party has tried to cast the blame for the blackouts elsewhere, and persist in pursuing the objective of having 50% renewables by 2025.

A few states in the United States have similar objectives for renewables: California and New York being the most prominent.

These states face the same outcome if they persist in their efforts to cater to renewables in efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

The Australian, Federal Minister for Energy, Josh Frydenberg, said:

“South Australia has been sacrificed on the alter of climate virtue.”

Certainly, the United States can avoid the same fate.

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Nothing to Fear, Chapter 12, explains why carbon capture and sequestration will not work.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear
Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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