The Renewable Crash Test Dummies: Test in progress
Day #3: Huge Yallourn coal plant in Victoria loses 2 of 4 turbines. The AEMO suspends the whole market. Blackout warnings continue. Australians are being asked to conserve electricity. It’s just another day in the forced transition we don’t have to have.
How much lower can we go?
Half of the generators from the ultra-cheap brown coal Yallourn plant went phht yesterday. This was “unplanned”. It normally makes 20% of Victoria’s electricity. It’s owned by EnergyAustralia (China Light and Power) which is keen to close it early in 2028 and has a special secret deal with the Victorian government to do so. Perhaps China Light and Power is scrimping on those maintenance costs?
Warnings about potential blackouts exist for all five states on the National grid during the next 48 hours. The Minister for Energy, and the head of the AEMO, and several state Ministers have asked Australians to turn off all the non-essential electrical items. The NSW Minister asked people not to use their dishwasher tonight. Go first world modern nation! Meanwhile Matt Canavan wonders why people can’t use their dishwashers but the glorious Vivid Light Festival is going ahead. Priorities Matt!
So far, there have been reports of blackouts in Sydney on Monday night and in Queanbeyan near Canberra today.
This afternoon the AEMO gave up on trying to run the wholesale generation market under normal rules and suspended it completely. It is likely to stay suspended for a week. The Soviet fixed pricing system of $300/MWh was too low and generators were avoiding bidding in because they don’t like running at a loss. Reserves were already wafer thin, so this just made it all impossible.
7 News: The suspension will mean the AEMO is in charge of directing supplies from energy generators to the power grid, until further notice, safeguarding households against the threat of blackouts. In a market notice issued on Wednesday afternoon, the AEMO declared the spot market in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria was suspended from trading after it was “impossible to operate the spot market in accordance with the rules”.
The move by the regulator marks the first time the entire national electricity market has been suspended since it was formed in 1998.
The AEMO chief said that suspending the market will mean generators will have to be transparent about their available generation and the prices will be figured out later based on the prices of the last month (which were exceedingly expensive). Lets not forget that the average price for June so far in NSW and Queensland was about $500/MWh. Utterly blistering. Two years ago the average price for June was $50 in NSW and $33 in Qld.
The Premier of super renewable South Australia was scathing about how embarrassing this was — but blames all the generators, which presumably are mostly not in his state, for being greedy because they don’t want to generate electricity for a loss. What are they thinking?
Through sheer luck South Australia is at this mostly powered nearly entirely by windpower. What luck!
The Australian energy operator says South Australia faces potential rolling power cuts on Friday as there is no reserve left in the national electricity grid, with Premier Peter Malinauskas saying policymakers should be “deeply ashamed” of the crisis.
AEMO this afternoon issued further LOR3 warnings in SA for Wednesday 9pm to 9.30pm and Thursday 8am to 8.30am and 9am to 10am.
A forecasted shortfall warning is also in place from Thursday 3pm all the way through to 4am Friday.
Premier Peter Malinauskas said he received advice this morning that “there’s a degree of confidence there’s enough supply in the system” for South Australia to avoid an imminent blackout.
These people have no shame. He complains they are running the grid on “market ideology” when obviously it’s that other ideology that has got us in all this trouble:
But the Labor Premier took numerous swipes at the condition of the national electricity market due to “repeated policy failures that seem to be obsessed with market ideology rather than outcomes for users”.
“This remains a very precarious moment for the state’s energy system, as is the case throughout eastern Australia,” he told ABC’s RN Breakfast. “And to say that we’re disappointed by that prospect is I think a gross understatement.”
Malinauskas said the country was witnessing a “market failure on a grand scale across the National Electricity Market” that was occurring “in a way that I think a range of policymakers should be deeply ashamed of”.
The State opposition energy spokesman pointed out that the SA government has a slow expensive solution:
“Instead, Tom Koutsantonis is spending $593 million on an experimental Hydrogen Power Plant – which isn’t expected to come online until the end of 2025 at the earliest, or even reduce residential electricity prices.”
For foreign readers wondering how Australians are coping in winter, bear in mind that we are talking of temperatures in Melbourne of 10 -15C and in Sydney of 10 -20C. Brisbane will be 11-24C tomorrow. Homes are not heated or insulated at all well compared to the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s not like a Texas winter where the pipes and fish-tanks freeze. In Hobart, Tasmania it will get down to 6 or 7C. In Canberra it will get down to 2 – 4 C this week. It’s no fun in a monocrete rental house. I remember breathing out fog indoors.
June 15, 2022