David Bidstrup: Are We Really “Power Poor” or Are We Just Stupid?

by Rudy P. SysAdmin at howtofindthemoney
The latest “Weekend Australian” carried an article by Alan Kohler titled “Why we’re power-poor but renewables rich” in which he extolls the virtues of renewable energy and mentions the  swags of projects ready to add “Gigawatts” of capacity that will keep the lights on and the planet safe.

If we look past the mania about “dirty coal” and consider the resources we already have that are “reliables” the picture does not look bleak at all.

Some time ago I was fortunate enough to get the 2018 generation figures for all AEMO registered generators, (thanks Andrew Miskelly), and I did some analysis.

The table below lists the salient points:

With the “reliable’s” the number to look at is the capacity factor, (CF). CF is a measure of how much of the theoretical 100% capacity is utilised. Coal, gas and hydro could be expected to be able to achieve 80% allowing for maintenance outages but they show CF’s of 68, 16 and 22% for an overall CF of 47%.

With the “intermittent’s” the CF is what you get due to the vagaries of sun and wind whereas the “reliable’s” can be run at any time so output is predictable. Here the CF ranges from 8% for solar to 22 to 29% for wind. The table shows the contribution to annual energy consumption by the various types. Coal contributes 75%, gas 7% and hydro 9% for a total “reliable” of 91%. The “intermittent’s” contribute 9%.

The chart below is the demand for January 18 and 19 2018, the day of the highest demand on the AEMO grid in 2018. The figures come from the AEMO price and demand files and it is a combination of all states. The data is given in 30 minute intervals so the X axis has 98 points, one for each half hour over 2 days. I have used the “reliable’s” at a CF of 80% and plotted the required contribution from each to meet the demand curve. The maximum demand on 18 January was 30,439 MW and on 19 January was 31,221 MW. The blueish area is the coal, the next bit is coal and gas and the greenish peaks are coal, gas and hydro combined. The shape of the curve is the actual demand curve for each day.

The conclusion is that on the days of the greatest demand in 2018 the “reliable” power generators could have handled the load at 80% CF. Just out of interest the table below gives the relative contributions in MWh for each type to meet the demand curve. There is no need to have any “intermittent’s”.

Remember this is using 80% of the “installed capacity” so there is some up the sleeve provided that the generators can get their acts together and have the plants up to speed before summer.

Kohler’s article mentions that there are 96 GW, (96,000 MW) of “intermittent’s” on the drawing board. Using the cumulative CF of 21% this is only 20GW on an annualized basis and it is all “intermittent”. The first table shows some maximum and minimum CF’s for the “intermittent’s”. Wind varies from around 75% to zero and solar 57% to zero but they are chaotic.

The starry eyed greenies and the renewables carpetbaggers will be the only beneficiaries of this insanity and consumers will be shafted some more. Reliable coal power stations will close to satisfy an irrational fear of “emissions” and the grid will teeter on the precipice, particularly in summer. The days of maximum demand used in the charts are also the days when spot prices reached the limit of \$14,500.00 per MWh and we will get it again next summer.

We are not “power-poor” at all; we just trash good systems for the “benefit” of the planet and the pockets of the carpetbaggers. Just today a new project was announced for SA that will have 125 MW of wind, 150 MW of solar for an additional 55 MW on an annualized basis, and a battery capable of storing 400 MWh. At maximum demand 400 MWh is 0.8 minutes of grid consumption. The cost is \$500 million and the local pollies think it is a marvelous idea. If the \$500 million was spent ensuring the current coal plants were maintained properly and run intelligently there would be no need for this “intermittent” madness.