Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge

With all the media attention given to the benefits of wind and solar and the negative aspects of fossil fuels, it’s worth examining what’s happening in countries that have invested heavily in wind and solar.

There are, for example, (1) the extra costs in Germany, see FERC Ruling and German Grid Stability, and (2) how Australia handled shortages of electricity during the past summer.
Last year, while I was in Australia, South Australia suffered its second blackout. See, Australia at

Now, a year later, Australia is again suffering from shortages of electricity. And this is after South Australia (SA) spent approximately $150 million on its 129 MWh battery installation. (The SA government hasn’t disclosed the actual cost.)

For example, a Melbourne hospital had to shut off its lights and non-essential equipment as the result of insufficient power due to a heat wave.

Power flow chart for a specific hour during January 1, 2018, between NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Note the small amounts of wind power and the flow from NSW to Victoria and Victoria to South Austria.

Data from the graphic, in MW.

Items of interest:

  • Wind supplied a small amount of power, so these provinces must rely on coal-fired and natural gas power plants
  • Supplying 100% of power requirements from wind and solar would seem highly suspect
  • Failure to build new coal-fired and natural gas power plants will subject these provinces to blackouts and shortfalls of electricity
  • Closing more coal-fired power plants, such as the closing of SA’s last coal-fired power plant in May 2016, and the closing of Victoria’s Hazelwood coal-fired power plant will likely lead to more blackouts

Australia and Germany are the canaries in the coal mine warning of the dangers, shortfalls and high cost of wind and solar.

Here at home, the New England Independent System Operator (ISO-NE) has predicted there will be blackouts in the next few years.

Isn’t it time to heed these warnings?

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8 Replies to “Living on the Edge”

  1. Donn
    Thanks for another revealing article.
    We have a new Governor here in NJ who is bound to take us down the road to blackouts with his ignorance of the real world of energy.
    Hopefully someone in the legislature can stop the madness.

      • Thanks. I agree.
        Unfortunately Democrats have bought into the CO2 hypothesis. They will reu the day they did. It’s going to come back to haunt them.
        The article in the link did not mention costs. It’s impossible to know whether GE’s system will be effective without knowing how much it costs.
        I have written on the Duck curve several times, and have mentioned it in my book Nothing to Fear.
        It might be worthwhile for me to repeat or take another look at the Duck curve because it shows that renewables can’t provide us with the electricity we need when we need it.

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