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Australian Heatwave Excuses

February 14, 2017

The Australian heatwave of 2017 should be a wakeup call that renewables are unreliable, and not be the basis for excuses in efforts to explain away the recent South Australia blackouts.

The South Australia government had been warned about the inability of wind to provide electricity when the last coal-fired power plant in South Australia was closed, May, of last year.

Instead, the labor government extolled the virtues of renewable energy for cutting CO2 emissions, and forged ahead with wind power.

In the United States, grid operators have always maintained a reserve capacity of 5 to 10%, so that electricity would be available when unexpected events, such as heatwaves, occurred.

Capacity, i.e., the ability to generate electricity, is measured in terms of megawatts. In the United States total capacity is now over 1,000,000 MW. Anticipated demand would be around 5 to 10% below this capability to generate electricity. Since the United States is divided into three separate grids, with regional operators within each grid, it’s the capacity within each region that is critical.

The problem with wind turbines is that their nameplate rating is approximately three times larger than their ability to generate electricity. Most wind turbines installed in the United States over the past decade have a nameplate rating of 1.5 MW, but have a capacity factor of around 30%. In essence, they produce the amount of electricity that a 0.5 MW unit would produce if it had a capacity factor of 100%.

Capacity factor is the amount of electricity a wind turbine, or any other power generation method, produces over a year, compared with how much it could theoretically produce based on its nameplate rating.

Coal-fired and natural gas power plants have capacity factors of around 80%, while nuclear power plants have a capacity factor of slightly over 90%.

In other words, wind can’t provide electricity when the wind doesn’t blow, but its nameplate rating has been included, by the unwary, in the total capacity of the grid, and is, therefore, inadvertently included as part of the reserve capacity.

Only baselaod generating capabilities, i.e., coal, natural gas, nuclear, and, usually, hydro, can be included when determining the capacity of the grid to provide electricity under any circumstance, including heatwaves.

In South Australia, demand has exceeded supply twice this year when renewables failed to provide electricity.

In the first instance, the entire state of South Australia was blacked out. In the second, only Adelaide suffered a blackout.

Instead of recognizing the inherent unreliability of wind and solar, the Labor Party has tried to cast the blame for the blackouts elsewhere, and persist in pursuing the objective of having 50% renewables by 2025.

A few states in the United States have similar objectives for renewables: California and New York being the most prominent.

These states face the same outcome if they persist in their efforts to cater to renewables in efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

The Australian, Federal Minister for Energy, Josh Frydenberg, said:

“South Australia has been sacrificed on the alter of climate virtue.”

Certainly, the United States can avoid the same fate.

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Nothing to Fear, Chapter 12, explains why carbon capture and sequestration will not work.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Don Shaw permalink
    February 14, 2017 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the timely article.
    It never ceases to amaze me how the anti CO 2 crowd ignore sound engineering evaluations of the risk with renewables even in the light of actual problems. I can only conclude that the elites don’t care about the peons, only preserving their own lifestyle.

    • February 14, 2017 6:48 pm

      For the elites, climate change is a religion and science doesn’t matter. In fact, they will distort science to fit their beliefs.

  2. February 14, 2017 7:43 pm

    Don Shaw I think the elite greenies go way beyond not caring about the peons , they are part of a religious cult that is out to destroy civilization as we know it . Of course they will be left to shepherd the planet back to health after most of the world’s population has been killed off.
    I admit this may sound like paranoia ,but I would submit that if there is evidence of a conspiracy (and there is) then it isn’t paranoia . The only other explanation is they are so far out of touch with reality they should be locked up as criminally insane

  3. Mark permalink
    February 15, 2017 11:41 am


    Dr. Ted Trainer, a Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, has new post up entitled “Questioning our renewable future.” that you might find of interest.

    …..”The general finding is that given the weather data for 2010,100% renewable electricity supply could have been achieved at a production cost of 20c/kWh, but probably 30.3c/kWh under typical conditions. The amount of generating capacity needed to deal with intermittency would have been 5 to 6 times average demand, and considerable use of biomass would have been needed. Most countries have far less biomass potential than Australia…..” ……

    • February 16, 2017 5:43 am

      He says we must abandon the market system. This is what they all say when you pin them to the wall that renewables can’t do the job.
      They want us to live as we did back in the 1800s.
      How do we bring people out of poverty without using fossil fuels. It just isn’t possible.

      • February 16, 2017 10:08 am

        As far as I’m concerned Trainer can just train himself to live in the Australian outback . Though I’m not sure the Aborigines would appreciate him


  1. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #259 | Watts Up With That?

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