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The South Australian black out — A grid on the edge

There were warnings that renewables made it vulnerable: from JoNova's Website
Australians are going to be talking about this for weeks. Indeed, the SA Blackout is the stuff of legends.
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. 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 http://joannenova.com.au/2016/07/wind-power-sucks-money-and-electricity-in-south-australia/. (Coincidence?)
The death of a few transmission towers should not knock out a whole state, nor should it take so long to recover from.

The storm struck worst north of Adelaide near Port Augusta but the juicy interconnector from Victoria runs in from the south, and goes right up past Adelaide and most of the population. Why couldn’t the broken parts of the system be isolated?
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?

 

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020
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