Friday, September 30, 2016

GWPF Newsletter: Blackouts Down Under








In this newsletter:

1) Blackouts Down Under: South Australia Pays The Price For Heavy Reliance On Renewable Energy

2) Australian Prime Minister Blasts ‘Unrealistic’ Renewable Targets

3) Renewable Energy Poses Growing Security Risk, GWPF Warns

4) Britain's Green Energy Policy Overhaul ‘Needed To Keep Lights On’

5) China’s New Coal Boom Reflects ‘Growing Panic’ About Green Energy Policies

6) Obama’s Mega-Flop: U.S. Gasoline Consumption Hits New Record


Full details:

1) Blackouts Down Under: South Australia Pays The Price For Heavy Reliance On Renewable Energy
The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2016

Brian Robins

The blackout will trigger renewed debate over the state’s heavy reliance on renewable energy which has put the electricity network in South Australia under stress.
 

Traffic in total darkness around the streets of Adelaide as residents are left without power on Wednesday night

Traffic in total darkness around the streets of Adelaide as residents are left without power on Wednesday night

Hard on the heels of a “near miss” in July when it narrowly averted widespread blackouts, South Australia was warned on Wednesday night to prepare for an extended loss of electricity in the wake of wild weather.

Described as a once in a 50-year storm, the statewide disruption prompted power companies to warn that users of medical equipment should prepare to use back-ups, and mobile phone users to conserve batteries.

“We are experiencing a state-wide outage which means we have no supply from the upstream transmission network,” electricity distributor SA Power Networks told clients late Wednesday.

In an unprecedented development, the state was cut-off from the national electricity network, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said “resulting in a state-wide power outage in South Australia”. As a result, the entire electricity market in the state had been suspended as it sought to work with electricity transmission company ElectraNet “to identify and understand the severity of the fault, as well as determine a power restoration time”.

There were no implications for other states from the extensive blackout in South Australia, the energy market operator said.

The extensive disruption follows the narrow avoidance of widespread blackouts in South Australia in July. At that time, the state government brought pressure to bear on a local power company for an idled power station to be restarted to avoid potential disruptions, following a lack of electricity generated from wind and solar sources at a time when it was unable to “import” sufficient supply from Victoria.

But Wednesday’s event will trigger renewed debate over the state’s heavy reliance on renewable energy which has forced the closure of uncompetitive power stations, putting the electricity network in South Australia under stress.

Earlier this week, the Grattan Institute warned that South Australia’s high reliance on renewable energy sources left it exposed to disruptions. It pointed to the fact that while the renewable energy target had encouraged the development of wind and solar generation, it had the potential to undermine supply security at a reasonable price, because it forced the closure of inefficient power stations without encouraging the construction of the necessary new generation supply sources.

Full story


2) Australian Prime Minister Blasts ‘Unrealistic’ Renewable Targets
Australian Associated Press, 30 September 2016

Malcolm Turnbull has blasted state Labor governments for setting aggressive and unrealistic renewable energy targets.

A statewide blackout in South Australia, triggered by ferocious storms on Wednesday that damaged one of its power stations and 20 transmission towers, has set off a debate about renewable energy.

Premier Jay Weatherill insists the lengthy outage was caused by an unprecedented weather event and not SA's heavy dependence on renewable energy.

"What happened yesterday was a storm event," he told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.

"What it did was destroy infrastructure. What the system did was to protect itself so that we could get it up and running quickly and that's exactly what happened."

The prime minister said energy security must be a key priority for governments.

"If you are stuck in an elevator, if the lights won't go on, if your fridge is thawing out, everything in the kitchen is thawing out because the power is gone, you are not going to be concerned about the particular source of that power," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Launceston.

"You want to know that the energy is secure."

Reliance on "intermittent renewables" placed different strains and pressures on the electricity grid than traditional baseload power from fossil fuels or hydro.

Mr Turnbull regretted that several state Labor governments - not just in SA - had set "extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic" targets for renewable energy use.

"Targeting lower emissions is very important but it must be consistent with energy security," Mr Turnbull said.

Full story


3) Renewable Energy Poses Growing Security Risk, GWPF Warns
Global Warming Policy Forum, 30 September 2016

In light of the statewide blackout in South Australia, the GWPF is warning that intermittent wind and solar energy pose a serious and growing energy security risk and threaten to undermine the reliability of electricity generation.

A paper published by the GWPF two years ago (UK Energy Security: Myth and Reality) warned that the ability of the electrical grid to absorb intermittent renewable energy becomes increasingly more hazardous with scale.

In fact, wind and solar power, because of the intermittent nature of the electricity generated, are the real risk to security of supply.

Full paper (PDF)

see also: Renewables not fossil fuels are a threat to energy security says GWPF report


4) Britain's Green Energy Policy Overhaul ‘Needed To Keep Lights On’
The Daily Telegraph 29 September 2016

Emily Gosden

The Government is facing fresh calls to overhaul its energy policy to cut costs for consumers, as new analysis claims renewables policies alone will equate to £466 a year for every UK household by 2020.

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), the right-wing think tank behind the analysis, and petrochemicals giant Ineos are both also calling for the Government to scrap its unilateral UK carbon tax, which pushes up energy bills.

In a paper released today, the CPS is highly critical of energy policy in general, arguing the electricity system is now “precarious” and suggesting Britain could be heading for blackouts as old coal plants close.

Raising concerns about the high costs of policies, the CPS claims that as well as the Government’s stated £7.6bn annual budget for supporting renewable energy such as solar, wind and biomass by 2020, there would be about £5bn in other costs such as network upgrades to support them.

Although households only pay about one-third of such costs directly through their energy bills, the think-tank argues that the remainder – funded through industry and business energy bills – is ultimately passed on to consumers through “higher prices for goods and services”.

On this basis it claims that “policy on renewables will on average cost households £466 a year by 2020”.

The CPS said the carbon tax, which was designed to encourage investment in low carbon energy and price coal out the market, should be scrapped in order to make the UK more competitive and prolong the lifetime of coal plants to help keep the lights on.

A decision on the future of the controversial tax, which is expected to cost energy consumers £2.2bn by 2017-18, is due in the autumn statement and both supporters and opponents are stepping up lobbying.

Full story


5) China’s New Coal Boom Reflects ‘Growing Panic’ About Green Energy Policies
Reuters, 28 September 2016

China has ordered major coal mines to raise thermal coal output by another 500,000 tonnes per day, the latest concerted effort by the government to boost supplies to its electric utilities ahead of the winter, sources said on Tuesday. Experts say the rapid-fire calls for output increases reflect growing panic about the unintended consequences of Beijing’s efforts to cut excess coal mining and shift the country towards using renewable energy sources.
 

Image result for China coal mines output


In the fourth meeting with coal mining executives this month, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) called on 74 major miners to increase output, unleashing another 15 million tonnes of new supply each month onto the market, two people who were briefed on the gathering said.

The latest change doubles the output increases the government has approved in recent days to 30 million tonnes, equivalent to 1-1/2 times China’s average monthly imports of coal this year.

Last Friday, the government partially reversed sweeping capacity cuts enforced earlier this year. Those reductions in production capacity triggered a frenzied price rally and depleted domestic stockpiles this year.

“The amount is raised again as the increase was not enough to catch up with the demand from the power generators,” said Zhang Min, a coal analyst with the Sublime China Information Group and one of the sources who had spoken to the companies participating in the meeting.

Experts say the frequency of the meetings and the rapid-fire calls for output increases reflect growing panic about the unintended consequences of Beijing’s efforts to cut excess coal mining and shift the country, the world’s second-largest energy market, towards using cleaner, renewable sources.

Full story

 
 
6) Obama’s Mega-Flop: U.S. Gasoline Consumption Hits New Record
The Energy Collective, 28 September 2016

Lucas Davis

August was the biggest month ever for U.S. gasoline consumption. Americans used a staggering 9.7 million barrels per day. That’s more than a gallon per day for every U.S. man, woman and child.

The new peak comes as a surprise to many. In 2012, energy expert Daniel Yergin said, “The U.S. has already reached what we can call`peak demand.” Many others agreed. The U.S. Department of Energy forecast in 2012 that U.S. gasoline consumption would steadily decline for the foreseeable future.
 


Source: Constructed by Lucas Davis (UC Berkeley) using EIA data ‘Motor Gasoline, 4-Week Averages.’

This seemed to make sense at the time. U.S. gasoline consumption had declined for five years in a row and, in 2012, was a million barrels per day below its July 2007 peak. Also in August 2012, President Obama had just announced aggressive new fuel economy standards that would push average vehicle fuel economy to 54 miles per gallon.

Fast forward to 2016, and U.S. gasoline consumption has increased steadily four years in a row. We now have a new peak. This dramatic reversal has important consequences for petroleum markets, the environment and the U.S. economy.
 

image-20160924-29889-18mi4tb

Gas is cheap and Americans are back in their cars and trucks. viriyincy/flickr, CC BY-SA

How did we get here? There were a number of factors, including the the Great Recession and a spike in gasoline prices at the end of the last decade, which are unlikely to be repeated any time soon. But it should come as no surprise. With incomes increasing again and low gasoline prices, Americans are back to buying big cars and driving more miles than ever before.

Full post 

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