Keen to rely on solar panels for your power? Then get ready for one hell of a bumpy ride. A maniacal reliance on chaotically intermittent wind and solar poses an existential threat to Australia’s power grid. So far, it’s been limited to “demand management” (a euphemism for controlled blackouts) and in wind and solar obsessed […]

Dark Ages: South Australia’s Solar Power Obsession Threatens Total ‘System Black’ — STOP THESE THINGS

Keen to rely on solar panels for your power? Then get ready for one hell of a bumpy ride.

A maniacal reliance on chaotically intermittent wind and solar poses an existential threat to Australia’s power grid.

So far, it’s been limited to “demand management” (a euphemism for controlled blackouts) and in wind and solar obsessed South Australia, plenty of uncontrolled blackouts, including the big one in September 2016 when the whole State went black: SA’s Wind Farms Guilty: 28 September ‘Black System’ Caused by Wind Power Output Collapse; parts of it for more than a week: South Australia’s September Wind Power Blackout Cost Businesses & Households $367 Million

That Australia has destroyed its reliable power generation system, should come as no surprise: the $60 billion plus in subsidies (plus soft loans, mandated targets and fines) payable to wind and large-scale solar under the Federal government’s LRET was designed to do just that.

As they say, be careful what you wish for.

Western Australia’s fixation with heavily subsidised solar power is threatening to destroy its once wholly reliable electricity grid, thanks to its sporadic and unreliable delivery.

In October last year, Alice Springs (in Australia’s Red Centre) suffered a widespread blackout that lasted for around nine hours, thanks to a little pesky cloud cover that interfered with the output from its thousands of solar panels, which are meant to provide a substantial proportion of the power needed to run the outback town of around 29,000 inhabitants.

The NT government’s spin doctors went into damage control, with a waffling response that avoided any reference to solar panels being the (obvious) culprits, as the ABC dutifully reported:

The outage was caused by a cloud which rolled in to Alice Springs about 2:00pm on Sunday, which caused a “reasonably large increase” to the system, Mr Duignan said. “That resulted in the majority of our units going into an overload condition,” he said.

“Those units stayed in an overload condition for a number of minutes before they tripped off on their protection systems … the battery energy storage system went to full output before it tripped off as a consequence of the outage.”

So, what type of power source might be interfered with by “a cloud”? For more on that embarrassing RE failure, see Jo Nova’s post: Oopsie solar-battery fail? Cloud causes System Black event at Alice Springs affecting thousands

In South Australia – Australia’s wind and solar capital – the situation is out of control and has reached the point of high farce, with the grid manager begging for legislated powers to shut down domestic rooftop solar panels in the hope of preventing another total ‘system black’ taking South Australians back to the Dark Ages, once again.

AEMO report says solar surge leaves SA at risk of major blackouts
The Advertiser
Matt Smith
18 June 2020

SA’s leading uptake of rooftop solar systems leaves the state at risk of mass blackouts, a new report says, triggering a multimillion-dollar push for the power to cut them off as needed.

Household solar panel systems could be turned on and off under State Government instructions in a bid to avert statewide blackouts predicted as early as this spring, a new report shows.

The unprecedented move is being triggered by concerns from the national energy market operator that South Australia’s world-leading take-up of solar panels is making the grid unstable.

The concerns, raised in an Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report obtained by The Advertiser, include that solar systems can stop working after voltage disturbances – or sudden losses of power – which was one of the triggers for the 2016 statewide blackout.

The findings will prompt a $10 million state government investment to fund measures that will allow it to switch household solar on and off to stabilise the grid.

The measure would shore up stability of the grid to help avoid mass blackouts but would also cut revenue earned by the household feeding electricity back into the grid.

The report says that solar panel systems can fail in response to sudden changes in the power grid’s operation.

The concerns are raised even further because AEMO predicts household solar panels in SA could provide 100 per cent of the state’s energy needs on certain days within a few years.

But it says there is “considerable evidence that many distributed PV inverters (solar panel systems) disconnect in response to voltage disturbances” – similar to challenges faced by wind turbines during the 2016 statewide blackout.

It has raised concerns within government that if SA was cut off from the national electricity grid and large numbers of solar panel systems failed, the state could be again plunged into a blackout.

The statewide grid relies on a mix of reliable energy sources, more volatile intermittent renewable energy including solar, and baseload gas.

New rules, which The Advertiser understands will be announced Friday, mean the market operator will have the ability to reduce solar panel outputs – stopping households pushing power back into the grid. New solar panel systems would also be able to be controlled by the market operator via smart meters.

“Analysis in this report demonstrates that a severe but credible fault (in the grid) near the Adelaide metropolitan area could cause disconnection of up to half the distributed PV (solar panels) in the South Australian region,” the report says. Government sources said the issue was incredibly serious, echoing the problems that led to the statewide blackout in 2016.

A loss of power from wind farms and tripping of the interconnector to Victoria combined to collapse the stability of SA’s network and deliver the statewide blackout, a 2017 AEMO report found. The government sources said commissioning of the report had probably saved a repeat of that incident.

There is already so much rooftop solar in South Australia that, at times AEMO struggles to securely manage the system. Figures from the Clean Energy Regulator show there are about 276,000 solar panel systems on SA homes – representing about 35 per cent of all dwellings in the state.

An estimated 11 per cent of small business and 24 per cent of large businesses have solar. Last year, there were times when 64 per cent of SA’s power use was from rooftop solar. The report said SA has already experienced dangerously low operational demand that is required to maintain a stable electricity grid.

Demand is expected to reduce further by spring, prompting AEMO to stress there is “an urgent need” to establish ways to increase more reliable system loads while decreasing the use of solar.
The Advertiser

OK, hands up, whose solar panels caused it this time??