Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Turnbull’s Lunatic Attack on Renewable Energy

South Australia just experienced one of the most ferocious storms of the last century, and instantaneously after this extreme weather event PM Malcolm Turnbull pandered to the influential coal-industry by laying blame to South Australia’s power blackout on its reliability on renewable energy.

It was a vacuous statement of complete folly, and a sure sign he’s under ongoing pressure from his conservative colleagues and corporate sponsors.

Renewable energy isn’t the problem, it’s the solution!

Just when we thought the dark days of Tony Abbott and his blinded assault on renewable energy was over, his successor appears to be running the gauntlet down the same archaic path. Immediately after these punishing storms Malcolm Turnbull then irrationally called on state governments to cut their ambitious 2030 renewable energy targets.

This is a far cry from Turnbull’s former position back in 2009 when he announced –

“I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am.”

Australia is one of the biggest culprits to the crime of CO2 build-up, yet somehow our politicians just don’t accept the link between the source and the repercussions of climate change.

Catastrophic storms are a prelude to a disturbing future.

Climate change is fuelling more frequent and severe extreme weather events. Storms are a natural phenomenon, but the severity and frequency of these seem more than a coincidence as the world heats up from the increasing CO2 levels released into the atmosphere.

The dramatic storm that hit South Australia last week occurred in a wetter and warmer atmosphere, and it’s likely that these events will escalate in their intensity as the cppm levels rise exponentially.

These wetter and warmer weather conditions are being driven by climate change. If we don’t seek to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and limit the extent of climate change, the severity and frequency of extreme weather events will only get worse.


Why Turnbull got it terribly wrong!

The recent South Australian storm that disabled the state’s power grid after extensive wind gusts, hailstorms and lightning strikes destroyed 22 transmission towers was only the catalyst for the entire state network to be switched off.

Redundancy for power failure is always built into the energy transmission system. As a standard safety response, the South Australian Energy Network was isolated from the National Electricity Market grid, and almost a million homes lost their power.

The destruction of high voltage transmission lines would have had a major effect on any power supply no matter what type of electricity generation was being supplied.

The only solution to mitigate such a massive power outage would be through the construction of large alternative energy storages and micro-grid facilities located on a regional basis. The present grid-power network marketers would probably see any energy storage facility as not in their financial interests

Have storms affected a whole state’s electricity supply in Australia before?

Whilst a severe weather event causing a whole state to lose power may be unprecedented in Australia, there have been severe weather related blackouts to hundreds of thousands of people before in eastern Australia. Some of these were –

• In 2009, more than 500,000 homes without power in Victoria due to heatwave.

• In 2011, more than 200,000 houses lost power in Victoria due to storms.

• In 2013, 250,000 homes in Queensland lost power due to storms.

• In 2015, 200,000 business and households in NSW faced extended blackouts of up to a week.

The first reconnection of South Australia’s power supply after the storm came from within its own networks through linking its renewable energy wind generation system back into the remaining undamaged transmission network. Without the state having some level of independence, many of those power excluded regions would have been isolated from electricity for an extended period.

If anything, the Turnbull arguments should have been pro-renewable as alternative energy sources can come online extremely quickly compared to the long process of firing up any gas or coal driven energy plants.

Future energy reliance

Regardless of our government’s pathetic coal-power generation addiction, renewable energy infrastructure in Australia is progressing onward at a pace that far outweighs our current federal leadership-blinkered trajectory. The ACT and South Australia are already on track to reach their renewable energy targets, and they alone are leading the way that this country needs to follow.

With the Federal Liberal Party in power until 2019 any chance of Australia reaching its 2030 renewable energy target seems impossible under the current political climate.

What we need is a whole new leadership in this country, responsible and visionary, not the same old outdated Liberal ethics driven by corporate coal-industry influence and capitalistic investments.

Our only hope for national progression in addressing climate change remains in independent state-based initiatives, or with the influence of a progressive Senate …

*Ted Mead is a staunch exponent of primeval forests and wilderness, and has been involved in direct actions since migrating to Tasmania over 35 years ago. In the process, Ted has been arrested, bailed, dragged through the courts, fined, and ultimately condemned with criminal convictions for his defence of the wild country he cherishes. While Ted believes the days of on-ground protesting are all but over, he is convinced that past direct actions by valiant protesters were catalysts for the vast nature reserves that exist throughout Tasmania today.

Reflections on two decades of energy, climate policy in Australia For more than 20 years Alan Pears AM has been teasing out the complexities and absurdities of government energy and climate policy in a regular column in ReNew Magazine, published by the not-for-profit Alternative Technology Association (ATA). A champion of clean energy and critic of government twists and turns on renewables, energy efficiency and a safe climate, Mr Pears’ insightful columns have helped people understand difficult policy issues and clarified rational policy for an environmentally sustainable Australia …

• Jon Sumby in Comments: As an aside, I know a rigger who builds transmission towers for a living. When I asked him about the tower collapses he shrugged and said that everyone (in the industry) knew they would come down sooner rather than later as they were built using cheap Chinese steel to bare minimum designs. Another bloke I know is an engineer and FIFOs to the mining industry in WA. He told me that the major mining company he works for buys in cheap Chinese built infrastructure (pipes, tanks, etc.) and it is x-rayed and a large proportion is rejected because of metallurgical flaws in the cheap steel, bad welds, and poor finishes. But it is cheaper to do that than build in Australia. That was the same complaint made by these two men, this equipment could be built in Australia with good steel and with a good build, but it would cost more than buying Chinese so the companies don’t do it …

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Jon Sumby

    October 8, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    You say that wind generators cannot supply power for a black start. This is incorrect.

    To put the black start system into context; a conventional generator cannot restart itself when there is no power. A smaller generator, usually a bank of diesel generators is kept in reserve to provide power to restart a unit in a power station. That unit then provides power to restart the other generating units in the power station. In the case of hydro, for example, a diesel generator provides power to open the flow valves and then hydro generation begins.

    In SA, there are two black start generators owned by two companies that are paid millions by the taxpayer to provide a standby system ready for immediate use if needed. In this case, one was on the wrong side of a downed powerline and could not supply the Torrens gas power station. The other tried but could not generate enough power to restart any unit in the Torrens station, so they had to wait until the interconnector was restored. I would expect there will be legal repercussions for the company in failing to provide what they were paid to provide.

    However, the Snowtown windfarm was up and running hours before the Torrens station was restored, but it was on the wrong side of a downed powerline and couldn’t supply power to restart — it could only restore power to the local network.

    A black start is simply a source of power used to supply a generating unit in a power station and get it running again. There is no technical reason why a windfarm cannot supply the electricity for that.

    The reasons a wind generator is not is not considered for a black start is because if there is no wind, there is no supply. Black start companies are usually contracted to be available to supply continuous power for between 3 – 7 days to allow for multiple restarts as needed as faults are rectified, etc., over the black start cycle. As well, if the wind is light, there might not be enough power to enable a black start. A supply of around 35 – 50 MW is what is usual. A black start generator must also be able to withstand transient voltages and magnetic pulses as they are also supposed to charge up the immediate network and transmission systems to get the power out to the network.

    There is nothing technical or engineering-wise that prevents a windfarm from doing this; it is just a good policy decision on the part of electricity networks not to do this; as when it is needed it is a mission critical time – the electricity network has broken down and there is no power. A policy to have a set of diesel generators maintained on standby for this purpose is the eminently sensible precaution.

    As for nuclear power, I and millions of other people oppose nuclear power. But there is one further reason why I do not think it is a solution: Time.

    It would take about 15-20 years to design, site, build, and commission a nuclear power station in Australia and that is time the climate scientists are telling we do not have. Emissions need to be reduced right now. Solar and wind are proven technologies and are available right now, which is why they are being rapidly deployed by the thousands around the world.

    You mention the new nuclear plant in the UK, the Hinkley Point plant. The current schedule from the proponents (EDF) is to have it completed in about a decade (2025) but this is considered to be impractical as reactors of the same design being built by EDF in Finland and France are running years behind schedule.

    The UK government’s National Audit Office has released costings that say the power station will actually cost taxpayers 30 billion pounds, not the 18 billion as proposed by the company. That cost is for a power station with a design life of 35 years and there are a lot of questions about value for money being asked now about a station that would supply only 7% of the UK’s power needs.

  2. Jon Sumby

    October 8, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    #54, Kelvin, indeed, but not as you say it.
    It was loss of generated power, as transmission lines went down and generators shut down to prevent damage that caused the Heywood interconnector to overload and shut down. This is made clear in the AEMO report: ‘The uncontrolled reduction in generation resulted in increased flow on the main Victorian interconnector (Heywood) to make up the deficit. This resulted in the Heywood Interconnector overloading. To avoid damage to the interconnector, the automatic-protection mechanism activated, tripping the interconnector.’

    Once the interconnector went out there wasn’t enough capacity in the remaining generators (including one windfarm) to balance the network frequency which declined rapidly and caused these remaining generators to automatically shut down.

    I have seen several commentators darkly muttering about ‘asynchronous power’, ‘induction motors’, and ‘frequency’ all implying the wind power is ‘fragile’ or ‘unreliable’. Frankly, this reflects knowledge that is around three decades out of date. Modern wind farms are multimillion dollar companies that sign contracts to delivery electricity to the specifications set by the grid they are selling to.

    For example, Siemens is a German engineering company and is the largest in Europe. Their products include gas and steam turbines; generators; compressors; on- and offshore wind turbines; high-voltage transmission products; power transformers; high-voltage switching products and systems; alternating and direct current transmission systems; medium-voltage components and systems; and power automation products.

    Their wind systems are big business and in part of their advertising they include this:

    ‘As more wind power is fed into the grid, stability requirements grow. In the field of grid compliance, Siemens sets the standard. Our NetConverter system delivers full conversion of generated power – efficiently decoupling generator and turbine dynamics from the grid. The system offers maximum flexibility for voltage and frequency control, fault ride-through, and output adjustment. As a result, our wind turbines can be configured to comply with a variety of grid codes in major markets and are easily connected to the grid.’ Delivering electricity to grid code standards and contract specifications is routine now.

    On the topic of ‘fault ride through’, you will note that when the first powerline collapsed the Report states, ‘Generation initially rode through the faults’, that included wind power supplying electricity and assisting in keeping the system stable. This is the fault you mention as occurring on the Davenport–Belalie line. However, Hornsdale is not on that line as you incorrectly state. Immediately after that power line was disabled, 133 MW of wind generation was lost to the network. Immediately after the third power line was disabled, 192 MW was lost to the network. Up until this third power line the grid frequency was stable. It was when the interconnector shut down that frequency could not be maintained. Note that at that time all but one windfarm were offline because of damaged power lines, so nothing about ‘asynchronous power’, ‘induction motors’, ‘frequency’ applies at all because they were no longer connected to the grid.

    You ask about why were the wind generators running at all. The answer is obvious; it was windy and the companies that own them make money by wind generation. This is recognised in wind generator design nowadays, commercial scale wind generators do not shut down in high winds. As a generator reaches it’s rotation speed design limits in high winds, it automatically feathers the blades to reduce rotation speed but still produce electricity. This is standard in the industry, as well as controls in the turbine itself to reduce output smoothly and ride through the winds with maximum production but minimised risk.

    You say that wind generators cannot supply power for a black start. This is incorrect.
    (continued in a following post as I’ve reached the character limit).

  3. Kelvin Jones

    October 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Going nuclear

    No. 51 Jon, I am sorry I called Haywood, Hazelwood, which of course is the power station. I used the term “pulled the plug” as a means of indicating that SA was now an isolated grid. Of course auto trip systems came into play.

    However it does seem the sudden load on the inter connector was a frequency trip caused the sudden overload on a unstable frequency of SA grid.

    The death nell came (split seconds) with drop of ouput from Hornsdale wind farm 86mW which is on the Davenport–Belalie 275kV line no doubt that was line.

    However, Snowtown wind farm dropped 108 mW out of a capacity of 370 mW (how much was running is not said). This was not in the zones yet affected by wind damaged and still connected to the grid connected to the Haywood feed.

    This was the beginning of the end.

    Wind turbines do have an upper speed limit and it would normal for them to drop out for self preservation. In fact it now a big question why were they running at all, bad practice with a severe storm front coming on.

    One thing that has been overlooked in popular news is that SA on its own could not Black start and needed the inter connector to restart. Wind turbines and solar are not able to restart as it is an intrinsic characteristic of their technology.

    There are a number of factors that have been raised but non have not been foreseen by engineering. When I studied the subject in 1996 the scenario that is today could be easily foreseen. Kyoto was all the buzz then and carbon tax/trading economic theory all the go, effectively subsidising renewable systems which were not compatible with the legacy power grids and a generation characteristic which was not suitable for an industrial load.

    The current big coal generation sets have been upgraded/or being, for a further 20 years life. It would seem that the latest proposal of replacing them with Nuclear power which would give a base load security for another 50 years. The new prime minister May has just pushed through for UK’s first nuclear power plant in many decades as a matter of urgency. I know as I helped (in little way) build the current aging (as am I) plants.

    I think it is noble to be green but or society is so integrated with secure freely available electrical energy. Economic / politics have been engineering our power systems for the last 20 years. The problems with bad design are now glaringly obvious.

    Feds are for once on good ground and if you read their literature as I read, for the Basslink saga , the technical bureaucracy have had the current situation summed up quite for a long time.

    The politicians, may have played a long term strategy and cleverly brought about a situation where going nuclear power is not an option!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Philip Lowe

    October 7, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Say what you want about our ‘friend’ Donald Trump but I’m sure that he wouldn’t have allowed ‘cheap’ Chinese steel to be used in vital national infrastructure schemes.When we all eventually wake up to the mutually beneficial merits of self interest,and the politics of the self interest bottom line become too obviously bent,then roll on that day.

  5. TGC

    October 6, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    TT should forward the info on this Link to the SA energy authorities as it will save them inquiring into the ’cause/reasons’ for the blackout.
    The reasons/causes are all here on TT.

  6. Jon Sumby

    October 6, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    #49, Kelvin, you are wrong. It was the weather that caused faults on the lines, which then disrupted transmission, which then disconnected power stations, which then overloaded the Heywood Interconnector, which then shut down to prevent damage, which then caused the other generators to disconnect, which then resulted in the blackout.

    ‘The predicted weather front moved through SA on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 September 2016, including high winds, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, hail,and heavy rainfall.

    The weather resulted in multiple transmission system faults. In the short time between 16:16 and 16:18, system faults included the loss of three major 275 kV transmission lines north of Adelaide. Generation initially rode through the faults, but at 16:18, following an extensive number of faults in a short period, 315MW of wind generation disconnected (one group at 16:18:09, a second group at 16:18:15), also affecting the region north of Adelaide.

    The uncontrolled reduction in generation resulted in increased flow on the main Victorian interconnector (Heywood) to make up the deficit. This resulted in the Heywood Interconnector overloading. To avoid damage to the interconnector,the automatic-protection mechanism activated, tripping the interconnector.

    In this event, this resulted in the remaining customer load and electricity generation in SA being lost (referred to as a Black System). This automatic-protection operated in less than half a second at 16:18. The event resulted in the SA regional electricity market being suspended.’


  7. Ted Mead

    October 6, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    #49 – No doubt the waters are bound to get very muddy pinpointing the true source of this blackout.

    Me thinks that’s exactly what the Feds want as it helps support their anti-renewable agenda.

    Most politicians will be zipping their lip on this one for a while.

  8. Kelvin Jones

    October 6, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Both the frequency and load-time line graphs showed the SA grid shut down on electrical criteria … not the mechanical destruction going on around.

    Wind turbines started fibrillating indicated by voltage variations on their individual feeder lines. This started to play with frequency.

    Two wind farms tripped (not mechanically disconnected by the storm), suddenly depriving the grid of almost 185 mWatts. Sent the frequency into mayhem and it was now 12.7 seconds to blackout.

    The overloaded Victorian inter-connector tripped, followed by the gas turbines.

    It was an electrical shut-down, not a mechanical disconnect.

    What happened to the physical grid after blackout is another story. The storm could have inflicted more damage which would have been overwhelming even if the steam turbines had been on line. No doubt the engineers will have it tabulated but it does seem the State Premier is resolute about his energy policy and is being fitted with armour plate for his backside as I write.

    In other words there will be an ever widening gap between the truth and what the public get to know with confidence as rumour starts to become myth. No doubt using the Tasmanian government’s model as guidance.

  9. Robin Charles Halton

    October 6, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    #46 Pete Godfrey, SA has problems with the integration of its electricity supply, too many unstable wind generators its hardly a reliable service if it is a regular practice to depend on the bulk of base electricity generation coming from Victoria via its Heywood Interconnector!

    At least the disaster will allow the nation to reassess the the excessive nonsense about the need for Renewables. Not one State leader in their right mind would allow a 40% target as SA has gotten itself into.

    A far more conservative approach to Renewables is necessary to ensure electricity security and I think that individual State need to ensure that is case too to suit their own needs first and foremost.

  10. Ted Mead

    October 6, 2016 at 11:58 am

    # 45 Fair point Jon

    However the old transmission towers that were built decades ago are not likely to be constructed from Chinese steel I think.

    It was a rare event for transmission towers to fold, but considering SA was behind and slack in there maintenance schedules then metal and bolt fatigue is the obvious fault. This doesn’t excuse inadequate engineering for such wind loads.

    As for the more recently built towers they may fail in even a shorter lifespan?

  11. Pete Godfrey

    October 6, 2016 at 9:51 am

    #44 Shaun thankyou for your very detailed description.
    I had a conversation with my father last night, he mentioned the S.A problem and had bought into the political point scoring hype.
    I had to point out to him that it does not matter where the power is generated, if the power lines are laying on the ground the result is the same.
    No power flow.
    There will probably be plenty of hand wringing and people looking for goats tied to stakes, but in the end the reality is that the power was only off for a short time.
    There may be ways around such a collapse but once whole sections of a grid go down, there is not much that can be done.
    Blaming wind generators will not fix the problems associated with massive distributed networks.
    Better to have the grid shut down for a day or so than to destroy the generators and transmission system and have to rebuild it all. Which could take years.

  12. Jon Sumby

    October 6, 2016 at 8:27 am

    As an aside, I know a rigger who builds transmission towers for a living. When I asked him about the tower collapses he shrugged and said that everyone (in the industry) knew they would come down sooner rather than later as they were built using cheap Chinese steel to bare minimum designs. Another bloke I know is an engineer and FIFOs to the mining industry in WA. He told me that the major mining company he works for buys in cheap Chinese built infrastructure (pipes, tanks, etc.) and it is x-rayed and a large proportion is rejected because of metallurgical flaws in the cheap steel, bad welds, and poor finishes. But it is cheaper to do that than build in Australia.

    That was the same complaint made by these two men, this equipment could be built in Australia with good steel and with a good build, but it would cost more than buying Chinese so the companies don’t do it.

    This comes to the question of how well do power systems serve us. Power networks are not a public service, they are for-profit private companies. So minimising costs (such as maintenance) and gold plating (adding unneeded equipment enhancements to maximise their profit from their contracts) are standard for these companies.

    More and more questions are being asked about these practises, particularly as the network infrastructure ages. Remember the huge Kinglake area fire that killed 119 people was started by a transmission line breaking and shorting out into vegetation. The levels of maintenance were an issue in the subsequent court case.

    Dylan McConnell, from the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne, is possibly alluding to these issues in this quote:

    ‘He said questions could be explored about the quality of the infrastructure that was damaged, but that raised the issue of gold plating: how much is the community prepared to spend to safeguard the system against rare events?’


  13. Shaun

    October 5, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Looking at what happened in SA (simplified to the major points) and noting that all this happened in a very short period.

    The following is written by me based on AEMO data and official reports based on what is known at this time (subject to revision if further information is found).

    1. Prior to the incident SA demand was 1895 MW. This excludes small distributed generation (eg rooftop solar) which has the effect of being “seen” as reduced demand rather than generation as such.

    2. Supply was 883 MW from wind, 613 MW from Victoria via the 3 interconnector circuits (2 x AC, 1 x DC) and 330 MW from gas-fired generation in SA.

    Note – the above figures don’t add, presumably due to network losses and differences in the time of measurement. I haven’t verified the reason, just quoted AEMO’s data here.

    3. For the gas-fired generation the plant online was Ladbroke Grove units 1 & 2 (gas turbines, nominal capacity 40 MW each) operating at 42MW and 40MW (so running flat out) plus 3 units at Torrens Island B (steam turbines, nominal capacity 200 MW each) operating at 82MW, 84MW and 82MW. All other conventional generation in SA was offline (shut down normally since not needed) at the time.

    Detail by the second (hours : minutes : seconds noting that AEMO uses AEST not SA local time)

    Note about terminology.

    “Reclosed” = line was turned back on after tripping itself off.

    “Trip” = disconnected automatically by circuit breakers (due to a fault) or simply failing.

    16:16:45 = System normal (pre-incident)

    16:16:46 = Fault on a distribution line in Adelaide. No major impact, just a distribution fault and the line was reclosed straight away with no apparent problem or impact. Presumably the trip was just something hitting the line briefly and causing no actual damage (that sort of thing is fairly common in such weather).

    16:17:33 – First 275kV (major transmission) line fails.

    16:17:59 – Second 275kV line fault. Line is reclosed after about 1 second.

    16:18:08 – Third 275kV line fault. Line remains out of service. No attempt to reclose due fault being within 30 seconds of previous fault (on the assumption that something serious is going on, potentially posing a danger to life, and it’s not just a minor line fault)

    16:18:09 – 123MW reduction in wind generation from multiple wind farms. This was an involuntary response, not something intended.

    16:18:13 – Fourth 275kV line fault. Reclose attempted but unsuccessful. Now there are 3 x 275kV lines out of service.

    16:18:15.1 (yes, down to the 0.1 seconds here) – 192 MW reduction in output from two wind farms occurred. An involuntary response, not intended.

    16:18:15.5 – Flow across the AC lines from Victoria measured at 850MW, about 250MW over capacity, as a result of the loss of wind generation in SA.

    16:18:15.8 – Victoria to SA lines opened (turned off) automatically to protect themselves from damage given the extent of the overload.

    16:16:16 – Complete collapse of the SA power system with all remaining wind farms, all gas-fired generation and the Vic – SA DC interconnect tripping offline. That’s an expected and desirable response in all cases at this point due to the massive overload now faced by these generating plants (gas and wind) and the DC interconnector. They’d have been destroyed real quick had they not shut down at this point and instead tried to actually supply the required volume of power into the system which, with the loss of other wind generation and supply from Victoria, now vastly exceeded the capabilities of plant still running at this point.

    So what caused what?

    Transmission fault first.

    Then some wind generation tripped.

    Then more transmission faults.

    Then more wind generation tripped.

    After that point everything else was simply a consequence of what had already happened and now inevitable in the absence of very rapid (done within fractions of a second) partial load shedding (blacking out large areas but not literally the entire state) to bring supply and demand back into balance.

    So with the rest of the system now overloaded, the consequences were fist the shutting down of AC transmission between Vic and SA followed almost immediately by the trip of the DC interconnect, all remaining wind and all gas-fired generation in SA.

    The grid was now dead throughout the state with even the highest priority loads (hospitals etc) now without grid electricity.

  14. Jon Sumby

    October 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    #40, Kelvin, really? You rely on Jo Nova whose paid job is climate change denial and who spruiks for the oil and coal industry?

    Here’s a model to help in understanding what happened.


    In 2005, a lightning strike on the Northern brown coal station shut it down, the resulting surge in demand for the interconnector overloaded it, causing it to shut down:

    — powerline– –network

    Result: Statewide blackout.

    In 2016, storms damaged 22 powerlines taking the wind generation offline, the resulting surge in demand for the interconnector overloaded it, causing it to shut down.

    power station — — –network

    Result: Statewide blackout.

    Here’s some experts giving their view:
    ‘Electranet Network Services executive manager Simon Emms said the state-wide blackout was triggered by an automatic shut-down when power lines fell to the ground.’

    (Electranet is South Australia’s power generation network)

    ‘According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the root cause of the blackout event was the loss of power lines during the storm that supply power north of Adelaide.

    “Initial investigations have identified the root cause of the event is likely to be the multiple loss of 275 kilovolt (kV) power lines during severe storm activity in the state,” a statement on the AEMO’s website says.’

    Energy system expert Dylan McConnell, from the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne, agrees with the key bodies’ assessment of the root cause, adding the failure had nothing to do with South Australia’s mix of electricity generation.

    “The transmission failure is completely independent of the generation that underpins it,” he told InDaily.


    So the industry and experts agree that it was not renewable power that caused the blackout. But not your chosen ‘expert’ the blogger Jo Nova.

    So let’s take a look at a few bits of her article.

    First she claims that wind farm generators have long transmission lines which make them riskier. However one of the wind farms, Hallet, is 2.85 km from the Hallet gas/diesel power station which has the same long transmission lines, as do other conventional power stations.

    So, power line length is not really a factor.

    Next, she writes about ‘frequency hell’ describing the fluctations in power supply that caused the other power stations to turn off as the frequency fell below 47 Hz.

    She writes: …that still leaves the grid very fragile because of the frequency dilemma. A stable grid needs “synchronous inertia” — big reliable turbines that drive at near constant speeds. Coal turbines are 600 tons and spin at 3000 rpm. That’s inertia.

    Um, the problem here is that it is a twisted argument, she is asserting that fluctuations in wind power make the grid ‘fragile’ and subject to collapse. That is wrong for the simple reason that the powerlines collapsed, cutting the wind generation off. They were no longer part of the system and as AEMO says, it was fluctuations caused by the interconnector turning off that meant the frequency couldn’t be held across a damaged network so the whole system crashed.

    Further, she asserts that the AEMO report indicates that the weather wasn’t that severe, …The AEMO report sums up the weather, but as far as weather disasters go, it doesn’t rate. This is not a “Yasi” or even a baby-Yasi.
    Throughout the duration of the event, long periods of sustained winds of 50–70 km/h were experienced across South Australia…

    The AEMO report also says:
    ‘Destructive wind gusts were a result of severe thunderstorms, which also carry the potential to produce tornadoes. The most likely area and time of severe thunderstorm occurrence was on Wednesday 28 September over the southern parts of the Mid North between 15:00 and 17:00 CST. It is also likely that severe thunderstorms occurred in the broad vicinity of the lower Mid North, northern Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide during or near this period.

    On Thursday 29 September, wind gusts of 100–120 km/h were recorded along the eastern West Coast, Lower Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula, and Mt Lofty Ranges throughout the day. Adelaide itself, together with large parts of all districts to the east of the Metro, reported wind gusts of 80–100km/h throughout the day and into the early hours of Friday 30 September.’

    She downgrades the weather because, you know, high winds in a severe storms can cause power transmission towers to fall over and she doesn’t want people to think that may be the cause, because it is renewable energy that is really to blame.

    So actual experts and professional organisations say transmission tower collapses cut power station supply and the resultant surge in demand triggered the interconnector to shut down.

    So do you still believe her or people in the actual industry?

  15. TGC

    October 5, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Quite frankly Tasmanians shouldn’t give a stuff if the ‘wind/solar’ States want to rely on those energy sources from-well- pretty soon really.
    We’ll be right, Jack! And I bet all those TT-ers going loopie about solar/wind are very grateful TasmaNia doesn’t rely on either.

  16. Ted Mead

    October 5, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    # 40 Kelvin

    Yes your assessment of our rapid approach into alternative energy production is correct.

    Of course we are going to hit numerous speed bumps on the way, and no doubt we will learn through the setbacks of our haste.

    But haste is needed if we want to remove ourselves from the coal-polluting, C02-emitting dire straits that we have imposed upon the earth. We can’t afford to wait 2-3 decades until the technology is bombproof.

    Our biggest hindrance is the conservative naysayers who refuse to accept that change is imperative.

  17. Kelvin Jones

    October 5, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    If you go to the following there is a very good analysis on the AMEO report.


    In it are some very good comments which are little understood about legacy AC grid systems. There are many fallacies and assumption that all the new technologies in the pipe line are going to and magic solution. They won’t, they will be incremental in nature. Some of the key technologies to make them viable do not exist yet. I think it is noble to be green, but you have to be practical.

    The emergency scenarios for a black grid system greater than 3 days makes awful reading. I think everyone one would like clean green power but at the moment we are going at it like a panicking bull at a gate. Creating fragile and insecure power networks.

  18. davies

    October 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Hang on #35. You state up front Turnbull’s lunatic attack on renewable energy. E.g there was no basis in fact for his assertions and the prelim report from AEMO basically suggests he was right.

    Further work is required but SA reliance on renewable energy seems to be a major factor in the state-wide blackout.

    So it is not looking like a ‘lunatic attack’.

  19. Ted Mead

    October 5, 2016 at 1:49 pm


    Kevin – The whole SA freak storm has invoked dramatic ramifications on the thinking behind energy sources in SA.

    However, regardless of the immediate knee-jerk reactions by conservatives who espouse doom and gloom on renewables, there will be a wave of energy consumers pondering on how to protect themselves in the likelihood of a potential reoccurrence.

    As reliable battery storage kicks in across the country over the next 12 plus months with the widespread introduction of the TESLA storage style systems, the micro–grid energy products will be more favoured, and price competitive, than the archaic base-load coal driven energy sources.

    It’s changing ethos, and commercial ethical investments that are driving innovative energy production in this country. The federal government has little control over the state’s or the commercial industry’s energy vision.

    Chicken or egg as you put it – renewables will ultimately prevail through consumer and ethical demands, not conservative political hamstringing!!!!

  20. Kelvin Jones

    October 5, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    In SA not only were the steam turbines not available. The Southern interconnector to Victoria had been down for some time for extensive maintenance. Collectively this would have made what is a very small grid more vulnerable. However, wind turbines do shut down with wind speeds recorded in the storm. In this case may be wind speeds were in limits at wind farm locations. However, losing frequency lock also shuts them down.They cannot feed an isolated part of the grid to which they may still be connect. It becomes a case of the chicken or the egg, in a catastrophic assault on the grid. Home solar is useless without at least some storage. Both solar and wind cannot black start.

    I am only supporting what Malcolm said in the techinical sense not any ulterior politics behind it. Our legacy 50Hz grids become more fragile the greater the % of current generation renewables that are relied on (not duplications).

    There has been much money wasted on renewable for mercenary purpose rather than green. However, that is another story.

  21. Jon Sumby

    October 5, 2016 at 11:04 am

    #33, davies, I accept your apology.

    ‘The electricity system in SA was stable and there was no unusual activity on the system.

    The predicted weather front moved through SA on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 September 2016, including high winds, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, hail,and heavy rainfall. The weather resulted in multiple transmission system faults.

    Generation initially rode through the faults, but at 16:18, following an extensive number of faults in a short period, 315MW of wind generation disconnected.

    The reduction in generation during the event, combined with oscillations caused by faults on the transmission network, caused the flow on the Heywood interconnector to increase to approximately 850–900 MW by 16:18:15. Flows between 850–900 MW are in excess of the design limits of the interconnector. Protection settings are in place to avoid damage to network and generation infrastructure in the event of system faults. These settings mean that equipment will open automatically to avoid system damage. At 16:18:15.8, in response to the high power flows on the Heywood interconnector, the protection at South East substation operated to open the Heywood interconnector.

    The uncontrolled reduction in generation resulted in increased flow on the main Victorian interconnector (Heywood) to make up the deficit. This resulted in the Heywood Interconnector overloading. To avoid damage to the interconnector, the automatic-protection mechanism activated, tripping the interconnector. In this event, this resulted in the remaining customer load and electricity generation in SA being lost (referred to as a Black System).

    The sudden loss of around 850–900 MW of supply to SA due to the tripping of the Heywood Interconnector resulting in a rapid reduction in the power system frequency. AEMO analysis has identified that the RoCoF was between 6 and 7 Hz per second.

    Note that generating units are unable to operate (and are not required to do so) where frequency is below 47 Hz. With the frequency below 47 Hz, generating units subsequently tripped off line resulting in the SA region Black System.

    The magnitude of transmission faults due to weather in a short period of time, resulting in significant voltage dips and loss of load, resulted in system instability.This caused some generators to reduce output, increasing flow on remaining power system equipment, causing power system protection to operate to remove risk of damage. Insufficient analysis has presently been undertaken to determine if everything operated as designed during the event.

    Following the SA Black System, ElectraNet advised AEMO of network damage resulting from the storm.
    This included:
    •Davenport to Mt Lock and Davenport to Belalie 275 kV line –5 double circuit towers damaged.
    •Brinkworth to Templers West 275 kV line (East circuit) –2 towers damaged.
    •Davenport to Brinkworth 275 kV line (East circuit) –14 towers damaged.
    •Port Lincoln to Yadnarie 132kV line –1 tower damaged.

    AEMO initially excluded the northern areas of the state from the restoration process due to extensive damage to transmission assets in the area.

    In the events leading up to SA region Black System, generation reduction occurred at six wind farms. There was no reduction in thermal generation. Each reduction coincided with a drop in voltage observed at the wind farms’ connection points.

    Additional analysis is required to determine the reasons for the reduction in generation and observed voltage levels before any conclusions can be drawn.’


  22. Ted Mead

    October 5, 2016 at 10:51 am


    It doesn’t matter what the AEMO concludes.
    There was and is always going to be issues with dual energy sources.
    What we need to do is to address these issues and rectify them.
    South Australia is bound to be 100% renewable driven in the next few decades.
    Renewables are Australia’s and the world’s only hope, it’s just the coal troglodytes holding us back.
    Take a look at what’s happening in other progressive parts of the world.
    This is what we can expect to manifest here beyond 2030.

  23. Jon Sumby

    October 5, 2016 at 9:33 am

    I remember back in 2005 the renewable energy Northern brown coal power station was hit by lightning causing it to drop from near peak electricity generation to zero.

    This sudden drop in supply caused the renewable energy Victorian interconnector to switch off, causing the other two renewable energy gas fired power stations to trip.

    Andrew Bolt explains the cause of the current blackout clearly; it was renewable energy. This is because wind generators are like giant fans, and the wind making them spin caused them to spin faster, thus making the wind stronger. This stronger wind, caused by the wind generators, blew over the powerlines.

    This sudden drop in power, caused by the powerlines falling to the ground, resulted in the renewable energy Victorian interconnector switching off and this made the other power generators in SA, including the renewable energy gas fired power plant to switch off.

    So it was was renewable energy that destroyed the powerlines and caused the blackout.

    But there are nay sayers and contrarians among us who do not believe that renewable energy is the cause of the blackout.

    Professor Ian Lowe, Griffith University:
    ‘The SA blackouts had nothing to do with the State’s move to clean energy. The distribution network was affected by a storm. The problem would have been exactly the same if SA used coal or nuclear power to provide its electricity.’

    Roger Dargaville, Deputy Director, Energy Research Institute at the University of Melbourne:
    ‘Had either of the brown coal generators still been in operation the system would not have been any more resilient to this event.’

    ‘Professor Ken Baldwin, Director of the Energy Change Institute and the Deputy Director of the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University says there is “almost unanimity” of views amongst experts in the electricity sector that the South Australian blackout was the result of transmission failures caused by an extreme weather event, which had nothing to do with the State’s high level of renewable energy.’

    Experts believe that it was a storm blowing over electricity transmission towers, damaging the network and causing fail-safe mechanisms to shut down the interconnector and other power stations to prevent damage to infrastructure.

    But they are just experts; I rely on Andrew Bolt and Jo Nova and they are both very clear that renewable energy caused the wind to blow stronger and blowing over the transmission towers. Clearly renewable energy is to blame.

    Back in 2005 it was the renewable energy coal-fired power station that caused the interconnector to trip and resulting in a statewide blackout.

    In 2016, it was the renewable energy wind generators that blew over the transmission lines causing the interconnector to trip and resulting in a statewide blackout.

    Clearly there is only one thing to do. We must urge South Australia to go to nuclear generation because it is safe and reliable and has never accidentally stopped generating power.

    Once South Australia is on nuclear power there will never be problems with the transmission network again.

  24. davies

    October 5, 2016 at 12:54 am

    Tthe prelim report from AEMO is out. Time for
    Ted and co to do some reading. Then you can come back on and apologise.

  25. Kim Peart

    October 4, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Re: 29 ~ I might not have replied, but Jon Sumby writes ~ “I know you have been banned from commenting on several websites …”

    Which websites have I been banned from? I am not aware of any. What are these websites, or are you repeating gossip, or spinning a yarn to do harm?

    I only contribute to two websites, and have not been banned from them.

    If you wish to take your case to another thread, I had a letter to the candidates published in the Tasmanian Times last June, and I see Jon Sumby made a couple of comments there ~

    An Open Letter to the Candidates … 12 June 2016 ~

    So go there and name these publications and I’ll chase them up and get explanations from the editors and report back.

    I will see your comment, via an Email from TT.

    You never ask a question, so you must be absolutely confident in your world view.

    But to throw stones reveals a zealot.

    In this thread Ted made mention of my views from another published article, by suggested an angle that I don’t hold, so I felt a need to comment on that.

    Jon Sumby then jumps in, which is fine, but throwing stones is a bad habit.

    The energy debate is extremely serious, because unless we get our act together, we could find ourselves on a ride all the way to a planet of scorched foffins.

    What we do next, each of us, will determine what futuire we get.

  26. Kelvin Jones

    October 4, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Turnbull was correct on technical grounds. What as happened in SA was much feared by power engineers. There are problems with solar and wind energy feeding the grid. It is all to do with 50Hz AC transmission. NBN fibre to the home was being experimented with to solve this problem for home solar panels. In simple terms wind and solar require steam or gas turbine to be on line (hydro too). If frequency lock is lost to one of these sources then a renewable will disconnect automaticaly from the grid. In South Australia that was 39% of capacity. Wind turbines also have an upper wind speed. This has already been causing problems in recent months causing more expensive gas to be used.. It is complex engineering problem and nothing to do with politics. The problem is political engineering caused problems for our legacy power grids.

    The more the renewable energy the more fragile the grid becomes.

  27. Robin Charles Halton

    October 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    #19 Shaun, thank you for your detailed analysis of the SA electricity restart sequencing.

    You may be able to qualify the following on the day of the blackout as I believe that 70% of the States energy requirement was coming from wind generation.
    There was too much wind generation and wind being asynchronous was unable to maintain 50Hz, the Heywood Interconnector tripped to protect the Eastern States from frequency disparity.

    In a normal grid system being supplied by synchronous generation like gas turbines,had the 5 turbines of the 8 at Torrens Island been operating, the loss of transmission lines between Adelaide and Port Augusta should not have taken the whole state down.

    In that case it was the fault of the wind generators.

    #32 Ted you should take note what we all are being told by Shaun and not dismiss what most would consider as valuable operational information.

    You continually take things for granted, SA cannot continue to depend on 40% wind power and depend on the Victorian Interconnector for most of its base load generation.

    For energy security in SA, gas which also come from Victoria is fine but to enable some independence it will probably restart one of its coal fired Power Stations for security.

  28. Jon Sumby

    October 4, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    #26, Kim,
    I will no longer engage with you on this topic on this thread.

    I know you have been banned from commenting on several websites as you have a habit of high-jacking or derailing discussions by repeatedly posting off-topic comments about ‘stellar societies’ or ‘space solar’.

    This thread is the space for Ted Mead and others to discuss and debate renewable energy policy in Australia, not saving the Earth by moving to live in space.

    I suggest you write your own article detailing your ideas, with costings, political paths, solutions to technical difficulties, and timelines.

    Then we’ll see who comments.

  29. Got Me An Aye

    October 4, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    “Empowered Tasmanians could make quite a difference to the fate of Australia, if they lobbied for a space future”


  30. Electric Dreams

    October 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    There were three power cuts in the Huon around the time the storms were hitting South Australia. Power has otherwise been reliable in the Huon.

    The SA interconnector to Victoria was switched on when SA had its power failure, and this interconnector was soon shut down under threat of damage.

    I am curious … did the sudden SA draw on Victorian power cause a draw on Basslink, and did this cause our power outages?

    If so, has Basslink imported the power problems of other states to Tasmania?

  31. Kim Peart

    October 4, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Re: 17 ~ Jon Suimby writes ~ “The cost of protection is also infeasible as if a country relies on a solar station for it’s power, then it is at risk from one missile hitting the space solar station.”

    The suggestion is for Australia to work with all leading nations to provide power for all nations, as well as use the power of the Sun to deal with the carbon problem.

    This will be a geopolitical game changer, and can lead to a more peaceful World.

    The need for security in space is also best delivered by building peace on Earth.

    Delivering peace on Earth through united global action in space is not a bad way to go.

    On Earth right now, the stage is set for another global conflict, which could all too easily slide into nuclear madness.

    If nuclear madness is avoided, I can see Australia being occupied in that conflict.

    A peace deal may then be struck to avoid nuclear war.

    Such a deal was struck with Indonesia in 1962, to avoid war over West Papua.

    In the face of this level of Realpolitik, taking the lead on global space options may be the only defence that we have.

    Success will allow us to keep this land, and be pioneers in the great space adventure.

    Our inaction on space may simply give the game to the East, who are more willing to act.

    A new space race between East and West may simply see Australian and Antarctic resources used by the East.

    I wonder if any nation would accept Australian refugees.

    Empowered Tasmanians could make quite a difference to the fate of Australia, if they lobbied for a space future as the way to a safe Earth.

  32. Keith Antonysen

    October 4, 2016 at 11:32 am

    We have known for decades that climate change is dangerous; but, there has been a successful campaign run by denier groups such as Heartlands, IPA, ALEC et al to thwart action.

    Deniers have been requested to provide experiments to show a fundamental finding of climate scientists is wrong; that is, CO2 has no influence in warming the planet in conjunction with radiated light. The challenge has been spread to other sites with no response.

    Deniers comments contradict one another; an example being Earth is cooling, nothing is happening, or it’s natural variability.
    The number of references provided by deniers are few in comparison to those following science. Deniers often provide poorly presented references, at times the IPCC is presented as a citation; invariably the IPCC Report is misinterpreted or information from a superseded IPCC Report is given.

    Now, major damage is being observed, and deniers bleat that it will be too costly to take action to guard against even more damage in the future.

    A solution not usually presented to produce renewable energy, is that where properties have dams a small scale hydro scheme can potentially operate.
    A further solution is no new coal mines.
    Subsidies need to be quickly phased out for fossil fuels.

    Fossil fuels are not cheap; millions of people die from the emissions, others have severe health issues, disease vectors are changing; these being hidden health costs.

  33. Kim Peart

    October 4, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Re: 17 ~ You ask no questions Jon.

    You issue a directive ~ “put your energies toward emission reductions campaigns.”

    I agree with carbon emission reduction, but it is not the main game?

    CO2 is rising at an accellerating pace of 3 ppm per year at present, which will increase the heat, drive more climate change and fuel fiercer storms.

    CO2 in the air is changing plant biology, affecting some food crops, making them more toxic and less nutritious.

    CO2 in the sea is driving up the acidity of the oceans, threatening the global food chain, and along with heat, killing the coral reefs.

    With growing dead zones in acidic oceans getting warmer, the worst is if sulphur bugs rise from the deep ocean and bloom, releasing toxic hydrogen sulphide gas that kills life on land and destroys the ozone layer, letting in toxic solar and cosmic radiation, killing more life on land.

    Carbon emission reduction that does not draw down the rise in atmospheric CO2, is no better than fiddling while the Earth burns.

    What hope is offered with a planet full of scorched coffins?

    All I suggest is physically possible, if there is a will to act.

    When the US wanted a nuclear weapon, there was a will to act, and we got the bomb pretty fast.

    That was a monster effort.

    When the US wanted to step onto the Moon, there was a will to act, and they achieved that within a decade.

    That was also a monster effort, and Australia played a role.

    Because all I suggest is physically possible, when there is a will to act, it can happen.

    What has weakened the will to act?

    Is it carbon energy propaganda, that has wanted the whole World to remain focused on the belly of the Earth for power, and made sure space budgets were slashed from the 1960s, because they knew what was physically possible, and that space based solar power could replace their industry, if allowed to proceed.

    Have conservationists been duped by carbon energy propaganda, or the Christian directive of waiting on Earth for a saviour?

    It is as if there are some who would rather commit suicide, than consider what is physically possible.

    If the level of funding needed were directed at the physically possible, like Apollo, it would be made to happen and all problems solved, and like the Manhattan Project, swiftly, because there is a will to act.

    In terms of cost, once there is a sustainable industrial presence in space, there will be no further cost to Earth, with an unlimited return on the investment.

    Extracting carbon from air is basic chemistry, as is cracking carbon out of CO2 and processing it into a useful resource.

    It simply simply requires a heap of energy to do the work.

    There is no energy supply on Earth that is large enough to do that level of work.

    If the will to act is awake to the physically possible, we will swiftly connect to the power of the Sun in space.

    CO2 overshoot began in the 1980s, when it passed 350 ppm, according to Hansen.

    The heat potential in 400 ppm CO2 in the air is how much? 2C? As CO2 rises higher, the future heat rise goes higher.

    Methane is a more efficient greenhouse gas, so with a huge release of that, from Arctic permafrost, or ocean floor methane hydrates, temperatures will go higher and faster.

    That is why it would be rather good to be able to use space industry to build a sunshade.

    Deal with the main game, which is physically possible, and people will be convinced about reducing carbon emissions.

    They will see hope and a reasdon to bother.

    If there is a will to act on the part of a dozen people in Tasmania, we have the Internet and virtual world tools to reach the whole World with a message about the physically possible, as the way to win back a safe Earth.

    Only with a sustainable industrial presence beyond Earth, will we be able to deliver a sustainable human presence on a healthy Earth.

    When I add up the physical reality, without the space option, we get a dead Earth, which Hansen calls the Venus syndrome.

    Do you know a better way to draw atmospheric CO2 down below 350 ppm, ASAP?

  34. Ted Mead

    October 4, 2016 at 12:04 am

    #19 Thanks Shaun – Your info is by far more comprehensive and accurate that what was immediately released by the media.

    # 20 Electrons isn’t the is issue regarding renewables or base load coal power – it has more to do with the incompatibility of current frequency (Hertz) between the two energy sources.

    This will be one of issues that will come out of some sort of government inquiry, though it’s not a new problem and would occur anywhere in world.

    Base load power does have a stable frequency which gives it one advantage, but these problems will be overcome in time through technology.

    #21 – We all know your cynical response to anything progressive.

    From what has been reported it seems SA was slacking in its maintenance of the transmission towers, which were many decades old, and possibly the fatigued steel or bolts didn’t cope with the unusually high wind stress factor.

  35. Ted Mead

    October 3, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    #18 – Russell

    The reason that the SA system shut down is because it was connected to the national grid market system.

    If there is a breakdown anywhere within the interconnected grid as in what happened in SA, then then the protection system automatically shuts off imports or exports of power from interstate.

    Tasmania’s grid would certainly have protection systems, though it should be simple to isolate the crippled transmission line and feed energy from elsewhere, unless most of the major lines were disabled at the same time.

    As for the SA disaster – I don’t know how many transmission lines were subjected to the 22 tower failures.

    Tasmania’s potential independence see us in a fortuitous energy position providing they don’t allow the dams to fall below the 25% fill level again.

  36. TGC

    October 3, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Could it be that global warming had contributed to a ‘softening’ of the steel used in the transmission towers in SA and this caused them to fall over in the wind?

  37. Luigi

    October 3, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    I’m with Malcolm on this. We need to acknowledge that renewable electrons are fragile and weaken the infrastructure that carries them. Coal-fired electrons are inherently more robust and confer strength on the pylons and wires through which they travel.

    Science: Simples.

  38. Shaun

    October 3, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    “The first reconnection of South Australia’s power supply after the storm came from within its own networks through linking its renewable energy wind generation system back into the remaining undamaged transmission network.”

    Actually, the restart of the system was done by using Quarantine power station (gas tubines, gas-fired) and re-establishing one of the AC transmission circuits with Victoria.

    Other power stations in SA used in the re-start includes Snuggery (gas tubrines, oil-fired), Port Lincoln (gas turbines, oil-fired), Ladbroke Grove (gas turbines, gas-fired) and of course the big one, Torrens Island (steam turbines, gas-fired boilers). Pelican Point (combined cycle gas turbine, gas-fired) has also made a significant contribution to generation since the blackout although it took some time to get going.

    As of right now, AEMO is continuing to hold more thermal generation in SA online due to ongoing concerns about the risk of another incident. Once thermal generation ramps down to minimum loading required to remain online, wind generation is being throttled back as necessary rather than shutting thermal plant down as is normal practice.

    Presently running in SA is one (of two) gas turbine and the steam turbine at Pelican Point plus 5 (of 8) units at Torrens Island.

    I’m in favour of renewable energy in principle but wind wasn’t the mains means of re-starting (or a black start to use the proper term) the grid in SA. It was gas, supply from Victoria and to a lesser extent oil-fire generation which did the job with wind heavily constrained, often to zero, during the re-start. This data is all publicly available via AEMO’s website for those who wish to verify what was actually done.

    Wind farms may well have been reconnected to the grid as such but their output was intentionally held very low, zero for considerable periods, in order to re-start the whole system.

  39. Russell

    October 3, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Re #13
    If 20+ High Voltage transmission towers came down in Tasmania as a result of severe weather (as was the case in SA), could that trigger our system to shut down?

  40. Jon Sumby

    October 3, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    #15, Kim,
    The thing most people realise, but you don’t, is that your idea is unworkable.

    The carbon is in the air now and emission rates are rising, not reducing, and accelerating global warming.

    It is expected that the planet will cross the 2 degC level between 2050 and 2070, after which feedbacks will start to rapidly raise global temperature to the +4 degC level.

    Space based solar power is only theoretically possible at the moment, with the Japanese space program saying that trial programs may be up and running in 25 years.

    That is too far away for any practical use, as any program to reduce elevated temperature means there will be an overshoot of a century before any effect is noticed.

    By which time the effects of global warming will have done the damage.

    Carbon capture from power stations was a technology a decade away from implementation a decade ago. It is still a decade away today. It isn’t going solve anything.

    Carbon capture from the air is technically feasible but the scale and cost have proven a barrier.

    The biggest barrier for that is that we would have to capture 10 billion tonnes of carbon from the air every year, but no one knows where it could be stored.

    Space based solar is technically feasible but we don’t have the technology to do it and that technology is decades away from being developed.

    By then it will be too late.

    There is the NASA research and the Japanese space (JAXA) research programs into space based solar.

    Both think the technology is decades away.

    The other problems are cost and security.

    The cost is beyond the capacity to do it, now and in the future.

    The cost of protection is also infeasible as if a country relies on a solar station for it’s power, then it is at risk from one missile hitting the space solar station.

    The comments you spam TT with are always along the lines of , ‘In 1976, we had the chance to go space solar, we missed that chance, so lets do it now to save the Earth’.

    Ain’t gunna happen.

    There is no now, it will be decades of warming away before it is even possible.

    Space solar is a research program of the USA, China, Japan.

    Last year, Mitsubishi managed to transmit 10 kW of power 500 metres.

    That’s proof of concept but no where near the gigaWatts transmitted 200 or more kilometres you see in your dream that is rooted in the past but not in present reality.

    So, long story short.

    Your dream cannot solve climate change and it cannot save humanity.

    Space based solar power is being actively researched, but it is will take decades before a pilot program can even begin.

    In those decades climate change will worsen, global society will be degraded and by the time a pilot program is possible, it will be unlikely to occur.

    Even if it did, the costs, risks, and problems of space conditions will make it unlikely to occur.

    Have a read of this article about temperature overshoot and the possible effects:


    Have a read of this Wikipedia entry to learn of what is happening about space based solar power in the present and in the real world:


    If you are really concerned about climate change, drop the speculative ideas about a power system that is unlikely ever to emerge.

    Instead, put your energies toward emission reductions campaigns.

  41. Keith Antonysen

    October 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    No 13, Rod

    Science keeps moving forward; old notions are discarded, you have not quoted from the latest IPCC Report. Whoever you are quoting from is very mischievous, misrepresenting science. So your old IPCC quotes are lame; science has progressed since, as has the IPCC in their last Report (2014).

    Science works on the basis of wanting to answer a question; the process is question – literature review – formulation of hypothesis – experimentation/collection of observable data – change/reject hypothesis or write up experiment if hypothesis is supported – peer reviewed prior to being published – if published critiqued by peers – a continuous process.

    For example, Eunice Foote was the first person recorded as having completed experiments in the 1850s involving CO2; now, more sophisticated experiments using computers and other extremely sensitive electronics happen.

    A quote, and the reference from IPCC (2014):

    “Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. Some of these changes have been linked to human influences, including a decrease in cold temperature extremes, an increase in warm temperature extremes, an increase in extreme high sea levels and an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions. {1.4}”
    Page 7

    Please provide an experiment that shows that CO2 has no impact on climate, I have come across 6 examples increasing in sophistication which underscore climate science.

    Deniers do not have objective experiments to uphold their case. In fact much of what deniers write is contradictory

  42. Kim Peart

    October 3, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Re: 10 ~ If I may speak in my defence Ted, I am not suggesting that we abandon home planet.

    I am claiming that we have a problem now with carbon driven climate change, because there was a failure to understand what we needed to do in the 1970s to avoid the carbon problem, now becoming a carbon crisis, and set to become a carbon apocalypse, with the prospect of a dead Earth to boot.

    People like Clive Hamilton, who know the inside story, look at what needs to happen now, and fail to se hope, or a way out of the crisis.

    From an article by Hamilton up in The Conversation ~
    “No one can give firm answers, but some surprising observations emerged at the conference. One thing is clear: given the vast quantity of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, with more still to come, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees will require ‘negative emissions’.” ~

    The 1.5C comes from James Hansen, who tells us that this requires atmospheric CO2 to be below 350 ppm.

    The volume of carbon that needs to be extracted is beyond belief, and perhaps even comprehension. The carbon problem is a whole lot larger as well, when appreciated that most of the CO2 that has gone into the air, has been absorbed by the sea. As CO2 is taken out of the air, it will come back out of the sea, increasing the volume of carbon that must be dealth with by many times.

    As the planet gets warmer, more greenhouse gases are released from Natural stores, such as Arctic permafrost and ocean floor methane hydrates.

    The rise of CO2 in the air is gathering pace and may only take a couple of decades to leaq past 500 ppm.

    The only credible climate action is the reduction of CO2 in the air to below 350 ppm. As CO2 rises and with no plan on the table to bring it down that actual works, no person on Earth will be inspired to bother with efforts that chase a carbon truck that has escaped without brakes.

    This is why I suggest a global drive to build solar power stations in space, to use the power of the Sun to extract carbon from the air, and be able to process extracted carbon into a useful resource.

    In the 1970s there was the good oil that fuelled cars and made money from wars, like that in Vietnam.

    Then there was a counter culture, including conservationists like Charles Birch and Bill Mollison, where there was a focus on the Earth.

    Then there was a space movement that offered an energy alternative, with solar power stations in space, and I was part of that in the 1970s. We knew that we could make a transition from fossil fuel, by building solar power stations in space. The whole plan was worked out in fine detail by scientists like Professor Gerard K. O’Neill, who wrote of space based power ~ “If this development comes to pass, we will find ourselves here on Earth with a clean energy source, and we will further improve our environment by saving, each year, over a billion tons of fossil fuels,” (page 162, ‘The High Frontier’, 1977).

    Unfortunately, instead of supporting energy transition, conservationists focused on the Earth and presented no real threat to carbon energy, who was more fiersely focused on the belly of the Earth for energy.

    The carbon crisis could have been avoided entirely, if conservation had joined forces with space settlement advocates, to displace carbon energy with the power of ther Sun.

    Now we must turn to the Sun, with solar power stations in space, to fix that failure and turn the tide on a carbon apocalypse.

    Success will reap only good news on Earth and among the stars.

    Continuing failure will leave a planet of scorched coffins.

  43. Kim Peart

    October 3, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Re: 13 ~ CO2 it is a greenhouse gas that warms up the air. It is the warming of the air that drives climate change. More heat in the air becomes an energy to fuel stronger storm events.

  44. Rod

    October 3, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Perhaps Malcolm Turnbull had taken advice from the Australian Energy Regulator which predicted in 2014 that such an event might happen:
    Imagine a violent storm taking out infrastructure in north west Tasmania. Would the whole state go out? No, because there is plenty of base-line power to keep the grid up and running. That’s what South Australia lacks.
    And to blame extreme weather events on CO2 is just stupid. If it happens every year it’s climate. If it happens every 50 years or so it’s weather. A recent study shows rainfall has not changed since 1850:
    When the IPCC started, its terms of reference are to report on the impact and magnitude of man made climate change: The first working group came up with this:
    1. “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”
    2. “While some of the pattern-base discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to man-made causes.”
    This was unacceptable to the CO2 fanatics so the spin doctors changed it to this:
    1. “There is evidence of an emerging pattern of climate response to forcing by greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols … from the geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of temperature change … These results point toward a human influence on global climate.”
    2. “The body of statistical evidence in Chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.”
    It has never been revisited so the juggernaut based on a fraudulent report has rolled on. And,yes, CO2 does affect climate but it isn’t the main driver of climate change.

  45. Russell

    October 3, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Re #7
    Love your optimism. Why not just roll over and let the Chinese move in today?

    Re #8
    Show us all the “coal-fired power stations “at the Poles”” please.

    You will see layers of carbon on the ice being deposited there as a direct result of coal-fired power stations around the world though. That means less heat reflection and increased heat absorption and global warming.

  46. phill Parsons

    October 3, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Has TGC been munching on mushies?. No one in the right mind suggests an immediate shut down but a phased and planned transition remains essential [#3].

    The in #8 he talks about power stations that don’t exist and ignores the 5/6June flooding in Tasmania. Was it not ‘wild’ enough Trevor.

    There is no need to slip to the nadir to show you are defeated, just admit you are wrong and change.

  47. Ted Mead

    October 2, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    #4 – John your evaluation or judgement of me is only partly correct.

    I do consider preservation of our ecosystems paramount to my ethical values.

    As for the preservation of the human society bit, my jury is out on that one, because I see humans being the root cause of the global predicament we now face in all aspects of our and nature’s future survival.

    In the developed world there are probably only about 10% of us who live with some conscience regarding the long-term survival of all living things and the perpetuation of a well-balanced and sustainable ecosystem. So the question begs what should become of the remaining 90% of Homo sapiens.

    There is no efficient natural selection process for the human race! – Maybe Kim Peart’s ideology of starting again, with better knowledge in some detached realm like planet Venus is the only hope?

    Humans probably crossed the line of maintaining some form of harmony with the earth around half a century ago. Maybe that was what the hippy-dippy era of the early 70’s was really all about?

    So if we all had simply moved out into our forest refined humpies, practiced free love, ate bean-sprouts and toadstool sandwiches when we had our chance, then possibly the world and society today may not be in such dire straits as we now know it?

  48. Neil Smith

    October 2, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Seems as though Turnbull was quite truthful after all when he insisted “I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am.”

    He’s just as uncommitted to effective action as the rest of the party he’s leading.

  49. TGC

    October 2, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Go along with that #5- make Tasmania even more able to stick the finger up to the rest of Australia.
    and…#6 if South Australia had shut down it’s coal-fired power stations a few months (years?) earlier there wouldn’t have been such a “massive storm”.
    Tasmania doesn’t produce coal-fired power and so we never experience wild weather.
    And #3 most will be surprised to learn there are coal-fired power stations “at the Poles”
    Maybe when they are shut down those areas will re-freeze.

  50. Stu

    October 2, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    RE #6 Love your economic reality. How many millions of tax payers dollars do you recommend that the government subsidies some private business to compete against China businesses that make solar panels.

  51. Russell

    October 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Turnbull and followers are showing what real intellectual and moral minnows they really are.

    South Australia’s blackout was caused by over 20 of their high voltage transmission towers being felled by a massive storm which lead to a shutdown of the entire system for safety reasons. The towers are no longer up to spec for today’s weather events.

    The freak storm (the latest in a string of many extreme climate anomalies) is a direct result of fossil-fuelled climate change.

    Instead of seeing off large progressive growing employment-creating companies like Vesta from Wynyard, why isn’t the Tasmanian Government looking into the renewable energy industry for our future? For example, why couldn’t we be manufacturing and exporting solar-cell roofing sheets to the world. All buildings need a roof, so why not have them producing power as well?

  52. mike seabrook

    October 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    #2 and recommence construction of the gordon-below-frsnklin hydro scheme whilst interest rates are low – lots of blue collar jobs

  53. john hayward

    October 2, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Ted just doesn’t understand conservative values. While he may consider the preservation of an extraordinary ecosystem and human society to be his paramount values, Malcolm probably sees practical things like private wealth and political advantage as his priorities.

    Donald Trump is better at articulating Malcolm’s values than is Malcolm himself, being somewhat less inhibited by the curse of political correctness.

    John Hayward

  54. Keith Antonysen

    October 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    The LNP do well out of donations from fossil fuel companies.

    Climate scientists have been saying for many years that climate change is happening at a greater speed at the Poles than anywhere else on Earth.
    The referenced article shows how islands off the Siberian coast are rapidly eroding through permafrost thawing and wave action.


    In Alaska, the Richardson and Alaskan Highways are far more expensive to maintain when compared to highways in non-permafrost areas due to major slumping through permafrost thawing. Inuit communities are needing to be moved from their townships at huge cost through erosion; sea ice no longer providing a barrier.

    The other matter is that wildfires had been burning in boil forests for 6 months in Siberia. To be burning in late September is extremely unusual for Siberia.

    The relevance of the above comments being that snow and ice moderate temperature and has an impact on climate globally.

    It is imperative that no new coal mines are created; yet, Adani are suggesting they are wanting to reduce the size of their Galilee Basin Mine, and Gina Rhinehart also has a new coal mine approved.

    About a year ago a climate scientist gave a homily via video clip about how a pilot had asked him whether he thought it was safe to land an aircraft on a Greenland ice shelf. When he stated that it was most likely safe, the pilot asked whether the scientist would bet his testis on being right, the answer was “No”!

    My question to deniers less drastic is … would they swear an oath on the Bible or make a non-religious oath, to say climate science is absolutely wrong in regard to CO2 having an impact on climate?

    There have been no responses in providing experiments to uphold the denier view requested elsewhere.

  55. TGC

    October 2, 2016 at 10:46 am

    If Australia is going to have -renewable’ energy- wind/solar/wave/- then let’s get on with it- and the only way it will come in any forseeable future if ALL coal mines and ALL gas energy is immediately shut down- nothing like pressure to force action.
    Australians will be prepared to tolerate industrial shutdowns and energy shortages if- in the long term- the planet is ‘saved’
    In some respects Tasmania will be ok- there’s not that much in the way of big energy consuming industry- and there are plenty of alternative job options that require little in the way of energy- weekend markets for example which are the big growth industry-particularly for tourists- if the bigger consumers do close.
    If we shut down the ‘cable’ and get our dams full again- and with all this climate-change induced rain that’ll be pretty soon- the lights will stay on and – although it might seem a bit selfish- “we’ll be right, Jack”!
    The Tasmanian Government should be working for Tasmanians- after all no other State’s government gives a stuff about us.

  56. Pete Godfrey

    October 2, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Hi Ted, yes I hope that not too many people were gullible enough to swallow the dribble that came out of politicians following the storms.
    With absolutely no idea of how a power grid or a generator works they came rushing to the aid of the coal industry.
    Maybe next time some politician has a barbeque we should run in and steal their extension lead. That would give them a demonstration of how a power grid works, and that it would not matter how many power stations we had, if the grid went to ground so does the power.
    Really all it showed was that it is not too good to have the country run by lawyers and bankers. Give them a hammer and they would hit themselves in the head.

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